With scissors in hand, the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Monday cut the ribbon to open the new headquarters of the county's library system and its Department of Human Services building.
The two separate buildings are situated on 12 acres of land next to the county's road department headquarters and near the Wayne Dumont Jr. Administration Building and other county facilities along Route 519 South in White Township.
One building houses the library headquarters, which recently vacated its cramped space in the courthouse annex in Belvidere. The other building is occupied by the Department of Human Services.
"This has been a long time coming," said Freeholder Richard D. Gardner, board liaison to the county library commission. "The library had been 'temporarily' located in the annex for approximately 39 years. This is going to be a great improvement to the library system overall."
Gardner and his board colleagues, Freeholder Director Jason J. Sarnoski and Freeholder Edward J. Smith, said the consolidated Human Services offices will also provide greater efficiency.
The county previously planned to build a new facility nearby for the library, Human Services, and several other county agencies, but the weak economy and escalating estimates of project cost prompted a reassessment of that plan, officials said.
“Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, when one door closes another one opens to perhaps even a better solution,” Gardner said.
The freeholders learned in 2008 that the two unfinished buildings were for sale and began negotiating a purchase.
“We finally came to a good price,” said Sarnoski, adding that the project cost less than half of the original estimates for a brand new building.
“I know you will enjoy these buildings for many, many years to come,” Sarnoski said.
The access road to the buildings will be named "Shotwell Drive" in honor of the many members of the Shotwell family of the Blairstown area who have dedicated themselves to serving their community and the greater Warren County community.