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Library, Garage Openings Still Indefinite

Candace Braun

After missing three previously predicted opening dates, the Princeton Public Library is now hoping to open its new facility on Witherspoon Street on Thursday. The Borough's new Park-and-Shop garage is also anticipated to open this week, on or near April 24, when Communiversity is scheduled to take place.

"Right now we're in discussions with the Borough over when the library will open," Tim Quinn, public information director for the library, said Tuesday afternoon. He would not comment on the reasons for the delay.

Tuesday morning, Library Director Leslie Burger had said the library would open Wednesday afternoon depending on inspection certification.

The garage, however, should open by this weekend, said Bob Bruschi, Borough administrator: "We are nearing completion ... We will definitely have the garage open by Communiversity."

He said that while he is not sure if the garage would be fully operational by Saturday, at least parts will be open to the public during the town event.

"All the bits and pieces at the end are coming together," said the Borough administrator.

The $13.7 million garage and $18 million library projects were originally scheduled for completion last December. However, due to cold and rainy weather, certain aspects of the projects were continually delayed, leading up to new completion dates set toward the end of April.

Mr. Bruschi said that workers from PSE&G were working on getting electricity running in the garage on Monday and Tuesday, which would allow for workers to finish the project during the remainder of the week.

At the garage site, pouring sidewalks and removing barriers will take place later this week once the inside of the building has been completed, said Mr. Bruschi. Presuming rain this week doesn't inhibit the construction process, much of the work should be finished by Saturday, he said.

Smart Cards to use in both the garage and parking meters became available on Monday, said Mr. Bruschi. Machines to purchase cards are located inside the new garage and inside Borough Hall.

Patrons may purchase a Smart Card for an initial fee of $20, and will be able to add money to the card in increments of $20, $35, and $50, which will yield an additional 10 percent of free parking. For example, a $50 purchase will yield $5 of free parking.

Smart Cards may be used in the new 500-space parking garage, or in one of the 1,200 new parking meters that have been installed in the Borough. The cards allow drivers to put the maximum amount allowed into parking meters when they park, and retrieve the unused amount upon returning to their car by reinserting the card into the meter.

The pouring of sidewalks, the clearing of construction equipment, and the installation of glass on stairways were some of the last minute projects that needed to be completed at the library, said Ms. Burger. However all books and supplies have already been transferred from the library's temporary location at the Princeton Shopping Center.

"All the books are here ... everything is here," said Ms. Burger.

If the library opens on Thursday, it will only have afternoon hours from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and Friday. Saturday the hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday it will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Next week the library will begin operating on a regular schedule, with hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Library patrons who borrowed books prior to the library's closing will not receive a late fee if the books are returned by April 30, said Ms. Burger.

The library is also still anticipating a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening celebration to take place at the library on Saturday, May 15, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Garage Tours

On Wednesday, April 21, the Borough will hold a private tour of the new garage for downtown merchants. The tour will be given in order to help ease the transition and opening of the downtown garage, said Bob Bruschi, Borough administrator.

"The downtown merchants are a vital part of our community and we look forward to forging a partnership with them to get the message out that there is an outstanding new parking garage, conveniently located in the central business district," said Mr. Bruschi.

Garage tours will start at the Spring Street entrance of the garage, directly across the street from the Tulane Street Parking Lot. Tours will take place at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.

The garage tour will be given by Mr. Bruschi and Borough Engineer Carl Peters. The program will include a tour of the garage, a presentation of how to use a pay-on-foot station, and a demonstration on how to use the Smart Card in downtown parking meters.

Pay-on-foot stations will be located at both of the garage entrances. The machines will accept cash, credit cards, debit cards, or Smart Cards, which can be used at both the garage and in parking meters in lieu of coins.

After the garage tour, each merchant in attendance will receive a complimentary Smart Card and promotional counter sign to display inside stores.

Merchants are asked to R.S.V.P. for the tour by calling (609) 924-8185.

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