Friday, April 17, 2015

Large Turnout For 2nd Library Meeting

A GOOD, INTERESTED CROWD
A crowd of more than 80 - double the turnout for the first meeting - attended the second of three feasibility meetings addressing the possibility of creating a new, larger library to replace the current Donald Dungan Library at Lions Park.  I wrote about the first meeting, held on March 5th,  HERE.  This report will be image-intensive.  Click on individual images if you have difficulty reading them.

MEDIA PRESENCE THIS TIME
This meeting was taped by Barry Friedland for his Costa Mesa Brief YouTube channel.  I'd show you the photo I took of him on the job, but he's a shy kind of fella.  But, I still think he deserves credit for the fine job he does, so here's a "not Barry" image to replace him.  You should be able to find an edited version of the meeting at his site, HERE, within a day or so. (Shhh, don't tell him, but you can see him in the photo above.)  Bradley Zint from the Daily Pilot also attended, so look for his story soon.
TAMMY TO JIM TO LINDA AND BACK
Costa Mesa Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau kicked things off, then handed the microphone to Jim Favaro of Johnson Favaro, who also shared the presentation with consultant Linda Demmers.  There was a staff available to provide real-time Spanish translation for members of the audience - but I saw no takers.  Recreation Manager Travis Karlen was also in attendance with some of his staff.  Former councilwoman Wendy Leece was among the members of the audience.  Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer came in after the meeting began, but managed to stay out of camera range.
TIMELINE AND CAPACITIES
Favaro provided us with the timeline of this activity and gave us an overview of the existing facilities, describing the various capacities of the meeting rooms at the Neighborhood Community Center (NCC).  This meeting is the second of three planned - the remaining meeting will be held in June, at which time more data will be analyzed and costs for various options presented for discussion before this information is eventually sent on to the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council.  The only discussion of costs last night was that of the Tustin Library, which cost around $22 million, but is a larger facility than what will likely be recommended here.
NCC NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 
We were told the existing NCC facility is significantly under-utilized, although well-managed.  We were also shown locations of other venues around the city where meeting space is available, but is also under-utilized.  A chart was provided to compare the available space in those venues to the current utilization of the NCC.
THE DUNGAN FALLS SHORT
Demmers took over and explained the current configuration and use of the Donald Dungan Library, which she emphasized was much too small for the current traffic, and the facilities are woefully inadequate and out of date.  In all the critical benchmarks the Dungan Library falls very short.  Her analysis, based on doing more than 140 previous such exercises, is that a replacement library should be around 20,000 square feet.
WHAT THE NEW LIBRARY WILL DO...
Demmers stressed that the library will:
  • Serve a younger population
  • Make greater use of computers
  • Experience higher attendance
  • Provide a better venue for after school study and tutoring
  • Will be more flexible (everything will be on wheels)
  • Will utilize new technologies for handling the books, in and out
  • Will have shorter stacks and wider aisles
  • Will have an Early Childhood area
  • Will have a Quiet Reading area 
  • And will povide a better venue for Teens.
FLIPPIN' THE BUILDINGS...
Then Favaro took us through the options as he saw them.  First, to simply "flip" the two facilities - converting the NCC into a new library and the existing Dungan building into a community center.  He went through in great detail the structural and practical difficulties involved in doing each.  The NCC, for example, has so many infrastructure complications and areas where it would have to be brought up to current codes - it was built in 1979 - that simply renovating the existing building will likely prove to be impractical.  The Dungan building is apparently historically protected, which complicates the process of the converstion.
...OR, A BRAND NEW BUILDING
The second choice, as Favaro saw it, was to build a new, 2-story library within the footprint of Lions Park, demolish the NCC and utilize the Dungan building and new community rooms in the new library to replace the necessary utilization from the NCC.  He also assumed that space in the other facilities around town mentioned above would also be utilized.  And, not mentioned last night, was the item on the City Council meeting agenda next Tuesday which proposes converting the old print shop on the first floor of City Hall into a 1,600 square foot meeting space.  That was not considered in Favaro's inventory of available spaces.
THREE OPTIONS
THE PREFERRED OPTION
MORE OPEN SPACE
His preference for the new library under his option #2 - there were three choices as shown on the image below - provided 20,000 square feet and opened up Lions Park to provide at least another acre of open space.  One speaker, viewing that image, asked about using part of it for playing fields - like a soccer field, for example.  Favaro said that was a possibility, but clearly he preferred a less active use - a more park-like setting for the park.
FIRST FLOOR
SECOND FLOOR
COMMUNITY MEETING ROOMS
COMBINING LIBRARY AND DUNGAN ROOMS
COMPARING THE TWO OPTIONS
SECOND OPTION PREFERRED
Cleary, Favaro preferred the second option, and of those three choices, he liked the one shown above the best.  Parking will be an issue - each one diminishes existing parking spaces while operating under the assumption that a new library will generate more "business".  One amusing sidebar... Favaro carefully tiptoed around the issue of homelessness, but implied that a new building strategically located, could solve the problem.  He didn't use the word, but a speaker did later.
GOOD QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE
A dozen speakers stepped up to express views on the plans so far.  Generally, most seemed to like what they heard.  Leece expressed relief now that it looked like we might actually get a new Downtown Library and asked about the Tustin Library, since it's the most recent nearby facility to be built.
Margaret Mooney asked if it was possible to build a new library AND leave the NCC intact - and was told it was possible to do so.
Mary Ellen Goddard expressed concern about staffing a two-story library facility and was told that it likely would take more staff, but that the new technologies in handling incoming and outgoing books would change the way any new library is managed, particularly in staffing.
Others expressed concern about the entry to the new building, parking (would a parking structure be necessary?) and a preference for a more "holistic" approach to the use of the park space - he meant playing fields.

STILL MUCH MORE CONSULTING WORK TO BE DONE
Between now and the third week of June the consultants will get some firm numbers for each of the options discussed last night.  The existing NCC building apparently caught them off-guard, since the renovations necessary to convert it into a library will be much more formidible than originally anticipated from a structural, electrical, mechanical standpoint.

CHECK OUT THE TAPE
Take a few minutes to find the Costa Mesa Brief coverage to help you understand how the discussions flowed and for more details on the specific issues with each building.  And, look for the PowerPoint presentation on the City website - it should be up before this weekend.  We look forward to the final meeting on this issue in a few weeks.  It's going to be very interesting when some hard numbers get applied to this process.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Went yesterday to Barry's website to look at the video. It wasn't up yet. I've had a bit of curiosity about the "Common Core" standards, though, and I took a listen to that video. Regardless of your politics, regardless of your religion, regardless of your educational level, YOU (ALL of us) need to watch this. It's two hours long, but it can be paused...

Today the video on the library is up, but I haven't seen it yet. Watching that one may be moot, in view of this other one.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning. Or, put more succinctly, "Justice, justice shall you pursue."

4/18/2015 05:05:00 PM  

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