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A Year Later: 1st Ward to Get Interim Library to Replace Branch Damaged in the Floods

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1st Ward library damaged in last year's floods
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PATERSON, NJ – For children in the 1st Ward, the destruction of their neighborhood library in last year’s historic flooding was devastating.

“They don’t have computers in their homes, their families don’t have the means to hook up the internet,’’ said Patricia McNeil, a parent and community leader. “It was hard for them to do their homework.’’

With the 1st Ward branch on Arch Street closed, neighborhood children walked to the library on Totowa Avenue or caught rides to the one on Broadway. “It was a real hardship,’’ said McNeil, president of the Habitat Homeowners Association.

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In October, 1st Ward children again will have a library in their neighborhood. That’s when the city plans to open an interim branch at the Christopher Hope Center on Temple Street, according to Paterson’s library director, Cynthia Czesak.

“We’re excited about being back in the 1st Ward,’’ Czesak said. “That’s our main goal, to get back in that ward.’’

The library board is using the $325,000 payment from its flood insurance on the Arch Street building to buy about 3,000 books and furniture, as well as to cover the lease payment for the interim library, according to Czesak. The branch also will have 12 laptops and four desk-top computers, she said.

McNeil is upset that the interim library won’t be open in September for the start of school, as officials originally said it would. But buying the supplies has taken longer than expected, Czesak said.

The lease at the Christopher Hope Center is for one year and officials are not sure what they will do about their 1st Ward branch after that. The Arch Street building would cost more than $1 million to repair, Czesak said. An engineering report says the floor would have to be raised three feet, the basement filled with crushed stone and the heat-ventilation-air-conditioning system relocated, she said.

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