Library Panel OKs 1 Site, Puts Off Another : Metro Rail Talks Postpones Choice of Branch Site

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After several public hearings and months of evaluation, the city's Library Department staff has recommended the southeast corner of Franklin and Hillhurst avenues as the site for the new Los Feliz branch library.

But at the request of Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, members of the Board of Library Commissioners last Thursday postponed a final decision on the site for one month. Woo asked for the delay while he negotiates with the Rail Construction Corp. on the company's proposal to donate land and money for an art library at Barnsdall Park.

The company, which is building the Metro Rail, has asked to use part of the park for three years as an excavation site in exchange for the donation of an adjoining parcel of private land and enough money to build a library and stock it with a collection complementing the park's cultural theme.

If an agreement can be reached, the proposal would resolve a dispute over whether a new branch, to be built with funds from a 1989 library bond measure, should be placed near the current branch, in a storefront on Hillhurst Avenue, or in Barnsdall Park, at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

Some city officials and community members want the new branch in Barnsdall Park to enhance the struggling regional cultural center, but others want the branch to be kept near the center of the Los Feliz community.

At the commission meeting, many Los Feliz community members urged approval of the staff recommendation, which said the Franklin-Hillhurst site is the most appropriate in size, accessibility, and visibility.

Donna Matson, president of the Save Our Library Coalition, said she fears that if the city does not take steps to acquire the land soon, another purchaser may buy it.

"We cannot delay one more day," she said. "Please make your decision before we lose our site."

But Commissioner Douglas Ring, who said he plans to vote for the Hillhurst site, said the commission should postpone its decision to give Woo "maximum leverage" in his negotiations with the Rail Construction Corp.

Ring said the company might have a different attitude at the negotiating table if it believes there is competition for the Barnsdall land. Two other commissioners agreed, and the matter was put over until the commission meeting Oct. 10.

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