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Planning Board Shoots Down Moving Library to Riverfront; Fire and Police Depts. Need More Room

By Anthony Wojtkowiak

Gloucester City News

  CNB tower AD The Planning Board agreed that the Gloucester City Library should not be relocated during a special meeting October 27 to discuss the Master Plan.

  Library Director Elizabeth Egan, one of five City officials to give presentations during the meeting, told board members that the space and location of the present library are inadequate.

  “When I came to the directorship of the Gloucester City Library in 1989, we were serving 42,000 people a year. In the last three years we have averaged 83,582 people,” she said.

  Alternate Board Member Elena King challenged the need for a bigger library, suggesting the library might instead invest in an Amazon Kindle and purchase e-books to save space.

  When asked about the best location for a future library, Egan said that the former Coast Guard building on the Delaware River waterfront would be an ideal place.

  The Planning Board decided that the Gloucester City Library is best suited at its present location at 50 N. Railroad Avenue, and deferred making decisions on potential locations for the highway department and public works.

  The Master Plan meeting, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., was called to order at 7:42 p.m.

  Board Members Nicholas Marchese Jr., Jess Torres, Michael Smollock and Adam Baker and Alternate Steve Martorano were not in attendance.

  Mark Williams, Elena King, and Bette Wills were in attendance as alternates, and Member Adrianne Parent came to the meeting 57 minutes late. Member Patrick Cerrone and Solicitor Anthony Costa were excused from the meeting.

  The meeting was called to discuss the adequacy of Gloucester City’s fire, police, library, highway department, municipal administration, building and zoning, and school facilities. 

  Fire Chief Brian Hagan, representing the Gloucester City Fire Department, said more space was needed at the King Street Firehouse.

  When asked by King, Hagan was unable to provide the current square footage of the firehouse, but stated that the firehouse would need at least another bay to cover a tractor trailer that stores the fire department’s special operations equipment. 

  Police Chief George Berglund, representing the Police Department, said their space for training is presently inadequate.

  He added that  the courtroom, where the police department trains, does not feature screens or projectors. Berglund said the ideal training space would be an auditorium style room, but could in fact be any large room featuring chairs and a projection system.

  When asked by King how many people might attend a police training class, Berlgund replied, “We could have as little as five. If we were to go with other departments, we could have as many as 50 or 100. I’ve been in gym classes where we’ve had 100 people probably or more.”

  Berglund stated that a dedicated training space could save the city money in overtime costs since the training space should be consistently available to the police department.

  The Chief also said the walls and doors of the police station offices allow too much noise to escape, presumably compromising confidential information.

  Municipal Court is not a safe place for hearings involving prisoners, Berglund said.

  Among the concerns were the lack of a barrier between prisoners and the public, and the lack of metal detectors at the entrances of the building.

  Berglund also said there was inadequate parking at the Municipal Building for the police force.

  “When this building was built we had four patrol cars. We have about 25, 30 police cars now. We let the guys take them home, but if we have them all here, it becomes a nightmare,” he said.

  The meeting ended at 9:48 p.m. The next regular meeting of the Planning Board will be Wednesday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m.