City Council Approves Library Funding


Brentwood Library Gets the Green Light

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BRENTWOOD -- After years of waiting, residents here now have assurances that they'll be getting a new -- and much larger -- library.

Brentwood City Council members spent a couple of days earlier this month deciding which long-term projects they most want to tackle, a list that included replacing the library.

"It's gonna happen unless there's some unforeseen issue," said City Manager Gus Vina, who thinks it's very unlikely any deal-breakers will arise, such as construction bids coming in too high.

Although most of the proposed projects won't receive the city's formal stamp of approval until January, the library is one of those that already has generated so much discussion among council members that he's not waiting to get started on the venture, Vina said.

The City Council is scheduled to make the project official at its Oct. 27 meeting, where Vina also is expected to introduce the team of employees he's assembling to draw up requests for proposals from architects and builders as well as oversee the library's construction.

He'll also recommend that the council approve $12 million from the current budget for the project, an amount that's expected to cover the entire cost, furnishings included, Vina said.

He cautioned, however, that he won't know the exact price tag until the bids come in, so the city might have to make minor changes to the designs.

A possible source of help might be the Brentwood Library Foundation, a nonprofit that library enthusiasts formed last year to raise money for the cause. Exactly how much the group has collected to date is not available.

It's a rough guess, Vina said, but construction conceivably could start next spring with library patrons enjoying their new hangout 18 to 24 months after that.

The City Council had acknowledged the need to replace the library at the point that it decided to build City Hall, but the recession subsequently put those plans on hold, Vina said.

Since then the city has been waiting until it had enough money; by the time he came on board in February, Vina said Brentwood had regained its financial footing.

Operating out of former city offices at Third and Oak streets, the library moved there in June 2009 to make way for the new City Hall with the understanding that the accommodations would be temporary.

The building has just 5,052 square feet of space open to the public; the new one that will replace it along with other adjoining city structures will be quadruple the size.

And that will make a world of difference to the library's 21,091 card holders, said Liz Fuller, senior community library manager.

As it is, the place turns into a can of sardines once schools let out: Every computer is in use and kids are sitting on the floor because there aren't enough seats, she said.

"It's pretty much every day," Fuller said, noting that the crowding can start as early as 1 p.m. on minimum days and last until around 5:30 p.m. "It's always kind of chaotic and loud -- you're right next to everything."

What's more, the library currently must rent space in the city's community center to hold special events, Fuller said.

A more spacious facility would accommodate the 25 computers that a needs assessment has recommended -- there currently are 16.

There would be room for 150 seats in addition to those at the computers instead of the 36 available to patrons now.

Bigger means floor space for four self-check machines instead of two, and 10 bathroom stalls where there are now just two.

And the library's current inventory of approximately 53,000 books, magazines, DVDs and CDs could expand to as many as 90,000 items.

Source: September 18, 2015, Contra Costa Times, Author: Rowena Coetsee
 
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Contact Diane Alexander by email at dapa@comcast.net if you have any questions.

The Brentwood Library Foundation is a non-profit IRS 501c3 public benefit corporation formed in 2014. Its mission is to support the Brentwood Library’s programs and services through advocacy, fundraising, and by building relationships with others who share a passion for the Library’s work, as well as to conduct a capital campaign to support the construction of a new library building.

If you would like to contribute financially to the Brentwood Library Foundation (BLF), send your check made out to the Brentwood Library Foundation to Diane Alexander, President, BLF, care of the Brentwood Library, 104 Oak Street, Brentwood, CA 94513, or visit the Brentwood Library Foundation website at
http://www.brentwoodlibraryfoundation.org

Read about the Brentwood Library Foundation on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brentwood-Library-Foundation/1392588017681973 

Updated April 7, 2017

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