Half Moon Bay community active in plans for new library

Half Moon Bay is continuing the planning process for its new public library by incorporating feedback gathered from residents at recent meetings.

The city has included input from more than 2,000 community members through a community engagement process, said Anne-Marie Despain, director of library services for San Mateo County.

Efforts were reinitiated to construct a new library after the City Council voted in February to update the conceptual plans for the library first developed in 2004. Built more than 40 years ago, the existing Half Moon Bay Library is considered by many to be outdated and too small for serving the entire community.

The original proposal called for a 33,600-square-foot building, but it was later reduced to 30,000 square feet. The library size was further reduced by 5,000 square feet after planners took into account recommendations from community members who expressed interest in additional parking space, Despain said.

“All programmatic goals and needs will be met the same between the 30,000-square-foot library and the 25,000-square-foot library,” said Alex Khojikian, Half Moon Bay deputy city manager. “We were assured that by the library district.”

The workshops were held to provide an opportunity for community members to offer suggestions and feedback about plans for the future library, Despain said.

“We have been pleased with outreach and engagement of community members,” she said.

Funding for the approximately $22.8 million library project will be split between San Mateo County and Half Moon Bay.

The San Mateo County Library system will supply the equipment and furnishings for the new structure, Khojikian said.

“I think the community desperately needs a new library,” Despain said.

In addition, a half-cent sales-tax measure will be on the ballot in November that would help fund the project, similar to a tax passed in Half Moon Bay in 2012.

“The half-cent sales tax will help, as will some reserves that the city has,” Khojikian said.

“It will be a blend of the half-cent sales tax … in November, some reserves that the city will have by the time that construction will be started, and we'll have to do a general-fund lease,” Khojikian said of the various funding options.

While the project is currently running on schedule, with the construction design phase planned for spring, officials likely will not break ground until 2016, Khojikian said.

“It's amazing for a city coming from the verge of bankruptcy four years ago to looking at getting a new library built,” Khojikian said. “We've come a long way.”

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