By Carolyn Barbre
Back in April 2002 the Gazette ran a story on page 1 titled "New library location concerns surface." It was noted that the 1,934 square foot Lindsay Library should be more than double in size to serve the community. This was followed by a lengthy dispute over where a new library should be located. Lines were drawn. Emotions ran high.
July 9, 2002, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a request from the County Librarian Brian Lewis to become partners with the Lindsay Unified School District to build a new joint use library at Lindsay High School to be paid for by school bond money and money from the California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Act of 2002.
At that time Lindsay City Councilwoman Pam Kimball was quoted as saying, "Closing the downtown library frustrates our vision for Lindsay. It's a step backward. That's what you do for a community that's poor and rural and has no choices. I think Lindsay is better than that!"
But LUSD was not awarded a grant from the state in the very competitive application process.
At the Lindsay City Council meeting of Nov. 10, Mayor Pro Tem Kimball offered to make the motion to pass resolution No. 03-79. "I've been ready to make a resolution like this for a long time," she said. "We have too much going on downtown to miss out on this one." She then moved to pass Resolution 03-70, a resolution of the city council of the City of Lindsay supporting the location of a new library in the downtown district. The vote was unanimous in favor of the downtown location. Councilmember Steve Velasquez was absent from the meeting.
Prior to this City Manager Scot Townsend told the council that he recollected that only 16 out of 100 applications were funded. He said Lindsay had agreed to have the county librarian apply for the grant because the city was unable to come up with the matching funds. Another problem was, to have a competitive application, on-site parking was required despite the fact that Lindsay has ample parking downtown. He said the city wanted to do a joint use with the school, but the school said it would have to be built on the high school campus for them to use bond money in construction.
"In my mind we just stayed out of the discussion as the school district went forward," Townsend said.
But it's a new day. Townsend said at the council meeting, "I believe it will be good for the downtown and the sense of community [to have the library located downtown]. I believe we can do it on our own." He said they were looking at a USDA loan program, saying if the city borrowed $700,000, it would repay the loan at $40,000 a year, possibly from administrative fees for impounded vehicles. He said they were starting a dialogue with the county.
Mayor Ed Murray agreed. "I think overall it would be better downtown."
Councilmember John Stava concurred. "I believe it needs to be downtown, in the center of town," he said.
Townsend said the school was anticipating building a 12,000 square foot library. But he said the city is thinking more in the 6,000 to 7,000 square foot vicinity. "It could be quite sizeable for our needs right now," he said. Townsend said such a structure could be built on an estimated $1.2 million budget.
In other council business: