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Mary Jacobs Library Branch Delayed Until 2023 as Borough Council Increases Its Spend with Lawyer

By The Montgomery News staff | October 13, 2022

Rocky Hill Borough Council increased its budget appropriation to Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law in Lawrenceville to $10,000 after emerging from a closed-session at its September 19 meeting. The council engaged Stark & Stark in 2021 to help borough officials navigate the transition of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library through upcoming changes. Council members cited a need for an attorney who “specializes in trusts, wills, and contracts.”

A sign in front of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library in Rocky Hill informs the public that the branch is temporarily closed for renovations, and will reopen in 2023.

Rocky Hill Library Task Force Chairperson Susan Bristol reported at the council meeting that the Mary Jacobs Memorial Library had been closed for 121-plus days (since May 21). The Mary Jacobs Foundation is expected to reopen a third of its now vacant library building as a mini library, or reading room.

A signed agreement between Somerset County, Montgomery Township, Rocky Hill, and the Mary Jacobs Foundation called for the mini library to open over the summer, she said. The Somerset County Library System (SCILS) still expects Rocky Hill Borough to pay $10,000 a year for the MJF branch, even while the library is closed. “Six months of closure is costing us $5,000 on top of our county library tax,” according to Council Member Bristol.

The task force is working on a fact sheet for the public, and recommends hosting a second town hall this fall. The task force also welcomed a new member — Ramin Rezvani of Toth Lane. The citizens’ task force now includes: Mayor Robert Uhrik, Council President Trey Delaney, Former Committee Member Connie Hallman, Community Group Leader Brad Bradhering, and former Librarian Mei Mei Morris.

Council President Delaney reported that the MJF is “still trying to obtain permits and Rocky Hill Planning Board approval, so construction has not yet begun on the library building in Rocky Hill. Accordingly, there is no way to anticipate when that building may reopen.”

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The Rocky Hill Planning Board said no applications have been received from the MJF as of September 19.

Delaney shared an email he received from MJF President Cary Dawson regarding the library: Dawson wrote: “I want to mention here that this is not a reopening — the new Monty Branch is open. There was almost no disruption of service to patrons whatsoever in the move from the MJML branch to the new branch in Montgomery and I am grateful to SCLS, the [County Library] Commission, and Brian [Auger] and team for their careful planning and efforts to achieve this continuity. The Phase 2 (yet unnamed branch) in our building in Rocky Hill is new.”

“This will be a grand opening — a new beginning, and we are very excited to offer this branch in partnership with the SCLS.”

The Mary Jacobs Memorial Library served Montgomery and Rocky Hill since 1974. It closed in May when Montgomery opened its own library, just a mile away from Rocky Hill. A smaller Rocky Hill Library Branch with one full-time staff member, programming for children and adults, and physical access to books, newspapers, and magazines, is now expected to open in the MJF building in 2023.


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