A total replacement of the Central Library, complete with a new parking garage, is no longer feasible, city officials say, although they did ask the City Council for $3.5 million “to keep the dream alive.”
Because the city has been unable to secure a state grant of up to $26 million, it has been unable to tap a bond approved by voters in 2003 worth about $14 million. This inability to access necessary funding is delaying the project.
Meanwhile, the projected cost for the original plan — including knocking down the existing library for a new facility and garage — has grown to more than $100 million, placing it far outside the reach of city officials.
The City Council last week approved Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford’s request for $3.5 million to get the project that much closer to fruition, or as Teaford put it, “keep the dream alive,” bringing the total amount allotted to the Central Library project to roughly $5.1 million.
She noted that the Buena Vista Library took 17 years from “the dream to opening day.”
What city officials must now decide is what form the Central Library project — currently budgeted at about $16 million — will take.
The project is part of the city’s infrastructure plans, and will be vetted further when library services are discussed.
Making more efficient use of the space at the Central Library, along with other changes, would cost just under $14 million, while using the vacant Wells Fargo building across the street as an annex for non-public uses would bring the total to about $16 million, according to city reports.
Officials have recommended the second option.
“If other opportunities arise, we are poised to move forward — that was the intention in coming here tonight,” Teaford told council members.
Councilman Jess Talamantes said in an interview this week that the council is looking at various funding “pieces” as budget presentations by each department continue into next week.
“It’s a tough decision we have to make as council members,” he said. “I need some direction as a councilman as to where we should be cutting. It would be great to fund all these programs, but unfortunately we can’t do that.”
A budget study session for library services is scheduled for Tuesday.