The Corona del Mar branch of the Newport Beach Public Library is a neighborhood landmark, but it shows its age.
Moist ocean air and termites have taken chunks out of the decking around the cheerful landscaping and slim, mid-century signage. The paint is dull and the carpet could use a deep cleaning.
Newport Beach had planned to build a new $8-million library/fire station complex — nicknamed the “fibrary” — this year at the site at East Coast Highway and Marigold Avenue. But city leaders said in January that with unfunded pension liabilities straining the city budget, the project could be postponed for five years.
Now, library supporters have regrouped to identify and price maintenance priorities for the existing building, which was built in 1959.
Library trustee Paul Watkins headed a committee that estimated the cost of the most vital fixes at $35,000 to $42,000. He said the city manager’s office gave the committee a range of about $50,000 to $90,000 to take care of deferred maintenance issues, but the group chose to be prudent and pinpoint the must-haves.
“We understood what the charge was,” Watkins said.
Termite eradication, estimated at $3,000, is the top-ranked concern. Most other issues — such as air conditioner and window replacement — could be addressed once the termites have been eliminated.
An exterminator is waiting for the go-ahead, according to a staff report prepared for the library board. The committee submitted the plan to City Manager Dave Kiff, who agreed with the proposed fixes, the report states.
The library board approved the maintenance plan Monday. The City Council will need to give the final stamp of approval, said Tim Hetherton, Newport Beach library services director.
Hetherton said the city, expecting a new facility in the near future, tried to stretch what it had in the current building. But now that the new building has been put on hold, officials are trying to spend wisely, he said.
Hetherton said he hopes the library will be fumigated within the next couple of weeks. He’s planning to start the extermination on a Saturday so the library, closed Sundays and Mondays, will lose only one day of business.
Hetherton said he hopes to have the facelift done by June 1.
The library is a relatively small 4,000 square feet, but its records show it served more than 40,000 visitors last year. It draws plenty of toddlers to its sunny, open children’s area for story times.
“There are lots of houses from ’59 that are soldiering on, so I think we can too,” Hetherton said.
Joy Brenner, chairwoman of the Friends of the CdM Library board, said advocates want to keep the money that had been designated for the new library in place, as the new branch was further along in development than other city construction projects.
She said supporters and officials showed classic grassroots cooperation and she wants to keep the momentum. But she said she also understands the city’s budget concerns and supports the short-term fixes.
Brenner remembers doing her homework in the library as a teenager, then taking her children there, and more recently, her grandchildren. She said many neighborhood residents have a deep fondness for the library.
“Our loyalty to this library and our appreciation of it is longstanding,” she said.
CORONA DEL MAR LIBRARY PRIORITIES
• Termite eradication: $3,000
• Deck repair: $7,205
• Roof repair: $1,500
• Exterior paint: $4,200
• Air conditioners (window-mounted): $4,000 (add $7,500 if a new electrical panel is needed)
• Window replacement: $7,000
• Carpet and upholstery cleaning: $1,500
• Interior paint: $4,900
• Restroom diaper-changing table: $600
• Shelving removal and carpet patching: $900
Total: $34,805 to $42,305
Source: Newport Beach Library Services