Millennium Fund to pay 1/2 of Lindsay Library

By Carolyn Barbre

In the public comments portion of the Feb. 24 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting a couple of people expressed their displeasure at what the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Government in Tulare County said has been a lack of public information about how the county's Millennium Fund is being dispersed. It was the perfect (if unplanned) setup for what was to follow.

Item #40 on the agenda was the first addressed following public comment. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for the board, Kristin Bennett, told the supervisors that the county was paying $1,200 per year rent for the 2,380 square-foot Lindsay Library building, built in 1934, that was no longer big enough for community needs.

"Tulare County has been working with the city in exploring options," she said, since the joint-use grant application for a library at Lindsay High School was unsuccessful. Bennett told the board that Lindsay has identified $750,000 to be used toward a new library and the county wanted to use the Capital Projects Fund, supported by the Millennium Fund to match that money.

District 5 Supervisor Jim Maples asked if the funds would need to come out of one budget year or if it would take longer. Two years was the response.

Lindsay Mayor Pro Tem Pam Kimball took the speaker's podium.

"I will reflect back some months. You are a very strong supporter of the downtown library," said board chairman and District 1 Supervisor Bill Sanders.

"This is the third time I've come to speak on the topic of a downtown library for Lindsay," Kimball replied. She expressed her appreciation and "delight, as well as the delight of the citizens of Lindsay," that the county was supporting this project. She said the city intends to get the most mileage for the money.

"We have a specific location and specific design to make it part of downtown revitalization," Kimball said. She said downtown Lindsay is rapidly becoming a place where people want to gather, because of the new park and mercado, fountains and murals already in place. Kimball said the proposed sports court and cultural arts center will offer a variety of activities and attract still more people downtown.

Last, Kimball mentioned the planned walking trail to the Wellness Center which will tie everything together. "We have a vision and appreciate the county's support," she concluded.

Mayor Ed Murray also addressed the board. He gave an overview saying a decade ago it was predicted that Lindsay was dying. But the last seven to eight years the city had updated the infrastructure, replacing water and sewer lines and treatment facilities.

"We have developed the inner city in the last few years. We have a plaza and water fountains. Now we are looking at improving the streets." Murray said in a 10-year rotation the city plans to redo every single street.

He said, because the city is predominantly Hispanic, families do a lot of activities as a family group, including reading and learning together which is part of why a bigger library is needed.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Worthley suggested that in the future the county "might be able to avoid [paying] rent [to Lindsay for a library] because of our capital investment." He added, "There wouldn't be dime one if not for the Millennium Fund." Worthley suggested that perhaps a new Lindsay Library could look at operating in a different way to bring in revenue, including sales of books and coffee.

Murray agreed. He said he could see it as, "A place where people can gather to talk quietly and visit, like Borders."

Chairman Sanders said the board of supervisors had received a letter of support for the project from the Tulare County Librarian.

"This is definitely a win for the county. The city also donated the property which is probably worth in excess of $100,000," Sanders said. "In my mind libraries give people who didn't do that well in school a second chance to improve their quality of life."

District 3 Supervisor Connie Conway asked if the county's contribution would only be to help pay for he building.

Sanders said they were talking with the county librarian about other needs for the library. "We will have an opportunity to discuss and approve those items as they come forward," he said.

Maples moved for approval of using the Millenium Fund's Capital Projects Fund to help finance building a new Lindsay Library downtown. "An opportunity to match dollar for dollar is pretty good at this point," he said.

The board unanimously approved funding for a Lindsay Library that will be different "than the cookie cutter approach."

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