These are the developing stories from 2016 we’ll continue to follow this year
From the upcoming reopening of the renovated Glendale Central Library to facility improvements at Glendale Community College, here are the stories we’re keeping an eye on in 2017.
Glendale Central Library to reopen
This spring, the Glendale Central Library will reopen its closed-off portions to unveil more than a year’s worth of renovations.
The $15-million overhaul began in July 2015, and the final construction phase should be complete this month. A formal grand reopening is slated for March.
The first changes started at the back of the library, remodeling the large book stacks with earthquake retrofitting, and there is now additional space for patrons. The next series of modifications were directed at advancing the library’s amenities to accommodate changes in technology in the building, which opened in 1973.
Other changes include an elevator, a “remembrance room” and the relocation of the library’s entrances to two different locations.
“We are on target and on time,” said Cindy Cleary, the city’s director of library, arts and culture, late last year. “We are excited to be reopening. It’s going to be a fabulous facility when it’s finished.”
Glendale may finalize plans for Space 134
While state officials consider naming a section of the Ventura (134) Freeway after departing President Barack Obama, Glendale is continuing with its plans to construct a park over part of the same freeway, modeled after a 5.2-acre park in Texas with a walking trail, trees and seating.
Known as Space 134, the cap park would cover about 25 acres between Central and Glendale avenues with an estimated price tag of $150 million, according to the city’s principal urban designer, Alan Loomis. Some residents have already expressed a desire for event spaces, restaurants and a walking trail spanning the length of the park.
Originally envisioned as part of the Downtown Specific Plan in 2006, city officials will likely spend the rest of this year rallying support for the project, along with continued engineering and technical studies. Residents shouldn’t expect construction until at least 2020.
Language charter school plans opening
Parent organizers plan to open a charter school in Glendale next fall modeled after Glendale Unified’s Benjamin Franklin Magnet School.
The International Studies Language Academy, or ISLA, will offer students opportunities to learn in German, Spanish, Italian or French.
In late 2015, parents Gillian Bonacci and Hilary Stern submitted a petition to open the school to the Glendale Unified School Board, which unanimously denied the request, and so did the Los Angeles County Office of Education when it went to that agency on appeal.
In April, however, the state’s Advisory Commission on Charter Schools voted 6-0 to recommend that the State Board of Education approve the charter petition, and the board did so with a 7-2 vote in May.
The school’s initial five-year term was approved on the condition that it open within Glendale Unified’s boundaries. School officials plan to serve about 430 students in the first year in grades from transitional kindergarten through seventh grade. Eighth grade will be offered the following year.
Voters approve $325M facilities bond
Glendale Community College officials plan to make extensive upgrades to decades-old facilities that were built in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s using funds from a $325-million bond voters approved in November.
College officials recently celebrated the overwhelming victory of Measure GC — 73% of voters supported it. The bond needed 55% of voters’ approval to pass.
After approving a comprehensive facilities master plan in late 2015 — which included a proposal for a new facility for the college’s highly regarded engineering, robotics and computer-aided manufacturing program — officials began eying the bond as the best way to fund major improvements.
Measure GC will also pay for other key infrastructure upgrades, such as replacing deteriorating electrical, sewer and gas lines, in addition to improving classrooms and job-training facilities used by students transferring to four-year schools or those training to become nurses or firefighters.
College officials will soon reach out to residents to ask them to serve on the bond’s oversight committee.