VERONA, NJ - The Verona Town Council unanimously agreed to take steps to attempt to restore the Verona Public Library mantel which is original to the library building.
Township Manager Matthew Cavallo updated the council on the the status of the mantel at its meeting Monday night. The original bid to renovate the library included replacing the mantel rather than restoring it, but then it was brought to the council's attention that the mantel was original to the library and should be saved.
Cavallo explained that in the opinion of the library architect, the mantel was not structurally sound so a restoration company was contacted which gave an estimate of $3800 -- $3500 for the actual restoration and $300 to remove and transport the mantel to and from their shop.
"In my opinion it is in horrible shape. It has two large stress cracks along the front and the wood along the top had been broken and there are several broken pieces on the bottom as well," Cavallo explained. "I’m not comfortable making a decision on the future of the mantle in the township so I’m throwing it to you."
Verona resident Bob Williams, who has expertise in restoration and is a member of the Verona Historical Society, said he felt the mantel could be saved and had historic value for the township.
"I feel that you'd be doing a great service to current and future generations of the community to keep that mantel piece," Williams said.
"The library is a multi million dollar project. Very few things left in that library are original, but when you talk about a mantel and a fire place in anyone's home it's generally a centerpiece and its focal point," Deputy Mayor Michael Nochimson said. "The mantel is original to the library and a couple of cracks and other things can be fixed and $3500 in the scheme of what we are spending for that Carnegie library would be to me, without a doubt, worth it."
Mayor Kevin Ryan and Councilman Jack McEvoy both expressed concerns about the viability of the mantel -- whether it would survive being removed from the library or would it crack further making it impossible to restore.
"I'm worried that we are doing the entire library over and spending this kind of money and will this just be an eye sore because it's the only thing that stands out and doesn't look good," McEvoy stated.
"Having removed numerous mantle pieces in my career, I would think in this particular case I wouldn't be concerned about it," Williams said. "Knowing what I know about historic preservation and the ability of Atlantic Restoration, I'm not the least bit concerned about that."
Councilman Alex Roman questioned the timeline of the project -- if restoration is attempted and not successful, is there still time to order a new mantel piece and keep with the construction schedule.
Cavallo said that the restoration estimate is six to eight weeks so given the library isn't scheduled to open until December, there should be enough time. Ultimately the council agreed that it was worth it to try and save the mantel.
Ryan suggested that out of courtesy the council should inform the Library Board of Trustees of the plans to restore the mantel. Cavallo agreed, but urged the council to move quickly if the mantel is to be restored.
"If we want to have it restored, or even have it look at being restored, we need to move forward now. We can’t be delaying the project," Cavallo said. "If three or four weeks into it, it doesn't look like it can be restored the we order the recreation. I don't want to be in June and have to order a mantel that won't be ready in time."
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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