City looks to state for $25M libraryBy Neil H. Dempsey
With the city library facing growing use and declining conditions, officials last night discussed strategies to fund a $20 million to $25 million reconstruction project -- including the possibility of applying for millions of dollars in state bonds that might become available later this year.
"We do a very good job of keeping up with the facility," Library Services Director Terry Jackson said at the study session held by the City Council on Tuesday. "What you don't see is the books we cannot buy or have to discard because we have no room."
Jackson said the existing 16,000-square-foot building at 701 W. Angus Ave. was built in the 1950s -- the downstairs meeting room was originally built as a bomb shelter -- and needs to be replaced because it is severely lacking in space, parking and handicapped accessibility. The library also has just one bathroom.
A new 40,000-square-foot library could cost as much as $25 million. To pay for it, the city could use redevelopment funding, general obligation bonds, donations and, like other cities in the county have done in the past, library construction bonds that might soon be available again from the state, Finance Director Jim O'Leary said. He said it was likely a variety of funding sources would need to be utilized.
"There is no single financing option for the library," O'Leary said.
The state funding would be the third in a series of library bond acts offered since 1988 and would allow libraries to request up to 65 percent -- or $20 million -- in construction and rebuilding funding while the rest is paid by local funds, Jackson said. The state sold $75 million in bonds for public libraries in 1998 and $300 million in 2000.
If the new bond measure is approved by voters this June, the state will offer $600 million in library funding -- or $300 million for libraries that unsuccessfully applied during the previous act and $300 million for new applicants, Jackson said. In order to apply, the city will need to fulfill a variety of planning requirements -- all told, about $500,000 worth of work, she said.
South San Francisco has also started work on a library project and grant application for the new bond.
During the last funding cycle, the San Mateo Main Library received $20 million in funding and the Redwood Shores Community Library received $10.1 million. Half Moon Bay was unsuccessful in its bid for state funding -- meaning they'll be at the top of the list this year, Jackson said. Other cities, including Belmont and Millbrae, chose to move ahead with projects without state funding after failing to win a grant from the last bond.
Daly City also applied but was not ranked as high as Half Moon Bay, she said.
Copyright ©2006 Peninsula Examiner. Published 01/31/2006.