A New Library: Pros and Cons

Well, with the City’s big library meeting coming up on Monday, it looks like positions are cementing. The Yes on R folks are still yes on the library, the No on R side is still opposed to what the City has in mind. … Hardy Miller, one of the effective spokespeople against R, still feels that the City’s proposal is too big and too costly. No on R is advocating against using long-term debt to finance the library and hopes instead that the City will choose to spend only about $20-23 million on the project. They came out of a recent meeting with City Manager Mike Parness and members of the City Council with their core goals unchanged. … Miller provided us with a copy of his argument that the City needs to hedge its budget for upcoming expenses like Civic Arts programs, police services, Homeland Security efforts, ADA compliance, creek restoration, storm drainage projects and a host of other projected municipal needs. … “We feel the best course of action is not to put all out eggs in one basket by committing $40 or $50 million to replace the downtown library. It is a branch library. Residents in North and East Walnut Creek already have good library services – as does Rossmoor,” Miller told the City. … No on R is also requesting that the City withdraw its request for state bond funds (on the ballot in June). … Unfortunately, while we at SaveCivicPark found Miller and his crew sound allies during the R campaign, we have to disagree at this point. Although we advocated against R based on the inclusion of a multi-level parking garage financed by expensive and unfair general obligation bonds, following a recent meeting of our own with Mike Parness we are unanimously favorable towards the direction the City is heading. We respect the No on R arguments, but feel that committing to long-term debt or use of parking funds to build a new library with modest underground parking is a reasonable request. We wouldn’t tell you to buy a house without financing, and the City has saved up quite a hefty downpayment for library construction. … The City’s position and plans today are quite different from the lipsticked pork project that went on the ballot in November. In fact, back in August we advocated for nearly exactly what the City is looking at today. … By all means, come and be heard at Monday’s meeting, 7:00 p.m. at Los Lomas, and let’s get moving with a new library for downtown Walnut Creek. …

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