The city’s central library, which has already undergone millions of dollars in repairs due to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, is expected to receive as much as $600,000 in additional improvements designed to prevent flooding and spruce up the building’s exterior.
The City Council gave preliminary approval to the plan late Tuesday, but stopped short of appropriating the money. Instead, it voted to advertise for bids from construction companies in hopes of attracting bids lower than the estimated cost.
“We can get more cost savings by going out and pricing the different portions of the rehabilitation program,” Councilwoman Linda Parks said. “And hopefully we’ll get that information when we’re deciding what money we’re allocating.”
The plans will be advertised within a week, with work beginning this summer and ending in late fall, according to Ed Johnduff, the city’s special programs and projects manager.
“I think [the work] is a 90-day job,” he said. “We’d like to get it done before the rain season.”
Tuesday night’s unanimous vote marked the second time that council members have considered the project. Last week, Parks engineered a seven-day delay so the council could analyze the cost.
Jean Amador, the project architect, presented details of the plan Tuesday, which the council unanimously approved.
“I think this is a very admirable plan,” Mayor Judy Lazar said.
The city’s analysis estimates costs of $185,276 for drainage and grading improvements, $86,952 for electrical work, $85,056 for masonry, $51,485 for concrete and $36,890 on furnishings. The project would also add new book-drop bins and tables and benches outside the building, located on Janss Road.
City Manager Grant Brimhall said funding will come from three possible sources: an existing library bond account, general fund reserves or from taxes levied on the construction of new homes.
While he is not sure which option the council will favor, Johnduff predicted the money will come from a library bonds account, which contains about $2 million.
“That’s the cleanest way to go,” he said.
Councilwoman Elois Zeanah expressed concern that the project would block the city’s plan to open the Newbury Park branch library on Fridays, beginning in 1998.
But Johnduff said on Wednesday that will not happen.
“It’s not prudent to use capital funds for operating expenses,” he said.
The council has already spent nearly $5 million on repairs following the earthquake, Johnduff said.
The ceiling, electrical and fire sprinkler systems were replaced, as well as several walls and thousands of books that were destroyed when the earthquake set off the sprinkler system.
In what has become an ongoing feud between Parks and her peers, Councilman Mike Markey criticized Parks for delaying the vote.
Although he said he went along with the delay to please Parks, Markey added that she should be better prepared for meetings. Parks later brushed aside the remarks.
“I’m getting more information,” she said. “He’s happy to spend the money. I want to review it first.”