By Carolyn Barbre
Last week the Office of Library Construction announced the cycle 2 grant awards. More than $108 million was awarded to 16 different communities from Shasta County to San Diego for library construction. Included were Frazier Park Branch Library , a Kern County Library, and Mendota Branch Library in Fresno County. Lindsay, the only application from Tulare County, was not selected.
Last March County Librarian Brian Lewis received approval from the county to submit a California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000 grant application for the amount of $4.9 million of which $4.7 million was eligible for a 65 percent match from the state. The grant would have gone toward building a joint use library in cooperation with the Lindsay Unified School District on the Lindsay High School campus.
The City of Lindsay had agreed to the project because LUSD had $1,164,182 to go toward the 35 percent local match portion of the project from the School Bond Act that was passed in the fall of 2002. The county agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the project from the Millennium Fund. There were a couple of other sources of funding, but none from the city, which had determined at that time that no funds were available for a new Lindsay Library, although the county listed Lindsay Library, built in the 1930s, as one of the top five in the county in need of replacement.
At the Oct. 28 Lindsay City Council meeting, City Manager Scot Townsend announced that the city had been notified that the school district was unsuccessful in their application for state library bond money.
"And we, as a city, want to kind of look at the downtown location again, to see what possibilities there are in locating the library downtown. So we are going to proceed with that, in looking at the options for locating the library downtown," he said.
In a later phone interview Townsend added, "We know the application process for the library bond money is extremely competitive and expect that less than 25 percent of applicants were funded." He said there is still strong support on the council to have the library downtown.
"Our problem in the past has been identifying monies we could leverage in having the library downtown. We would like to revisit that issue, and see if there are different funding sources out there to come up with a plan to have the library downtown." Townsend said the city would not apply for the third cycle of funding through the Office of Library Construction. The deadline to apply for the third cycle is Jan. 16. Townsend said it was necessary to take into consideration funding sources and what obligation they place on the project. He said the "prevailing wage issue" made costs much higher even with the state paying 65 percent of the tab.
"We are looking at a different route to create library here with our own resources. Hopefully we can be successful. We would at least like to revisit the issue," Townsend said.
The half million dollars that was offered by the county has been taken out of the budget according to District 1 Supervisor Bill Sanders. "It has always been my thought and hope that the city would come back in with a solid plan," he said, regarding a new Lindsay Library downtown. He said, if that happens, the proposal to support the building of the library with money from the Millennium Fund could be reintroduced. "It could become available. I don't think it would be any problem," he said. Naturally it would require approval from the board of supervisors.
Sanders said there are some complications because the school district is still wanting the county to be a partner, and, while they're not getting the grant, they have other monies they think may be available to them for a joint project.
"From my point of view, my support for the combined use library was because there were no other options at that time. And I stated publically that I preferred the downtown library. If the city council is publically coming forward, that changes my perspective," he said. He noted that he was meeting with LUSD Superintendent Janet Kleigl later in the day on Monday, Nov. 3. and would be saying as much to her.
He said the Lindsay City Council has always privately said they would have preferred the downtown site. "Now they are saying not only do they want the site, but will actively pursue it."