Letter to the Editor: Lake Hiawatha Library New Building Project

Lake Hiawatha Library, currently located at 68 Nokomis Avenue

Dear Editor:

I would like to alert all Parsippany residents that our Town Council is facing a decision right now that will affect the quality of our lives for years to come.

In 2020, the Parsippany Library System was awarded a three million dollar New Jersey State Library Construction Bond Grant to build a new library in Lake Hiawatha. Matching funds were approved by Town Council and architectural plans were completed.

But COVID arrived at just the wrong time, causing the cost of construction to increase.

So, after exploring every other option available, Library Director Melissa Kuzma asked the Town to increase its share of the funding. She is currently waiting for an answer. As anyone who has been in the Lake Hiawatha Library knows, the building is very heavily used. The building is also falling apart and does not meet current construction code in multiple areas. It needs a new roof, fire alarms, and heating and air conditioning systems. But perhaps more important, the building’s design limits the ability of the staff to provide the services that are basic to a 21st Century Library. Adults and children in Lake Hiawatha will be left behind without these services.

I know that our Mayor and Town Council try their best to keep the tax burden on our community as low as possible. But I also believe that if our residents knew what was happening, they would tell them to do the practical thing, accept the grant funds, and build a Library that will have a positive effect on Parsippany for years to come. The opportunity to obtain one of these library grants is only offered every twenty years, and there is a waiting list of towns who want the money if we turn it down. In addition, costly repairs will still have to be made, but without the grant.

If you care about this issue, please let our Mayor and Town Council members know by speaking at a meeting or by contacting them. Their emails and phone numbers can be found by Clicking here.

If you would like more extensive information, a copy of Melissa Kuzma’s presentation to Town Council is available on the Lake Hiawatha Library Page of the Friends Website by clicking here.

I would guess that no elected official wants to be remembered for an expensive and short sighted decision, but they cannot know what you are thinking unless you speak up.

Peggy Smith
President, Friends of Parsippany-Troy Hills Public Library