New library at the top of San Bruno’s wish list

The city plans to invest thousands of dollars next year to plan for facility

SAN BRUNO — Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be invested this year in planning for a new city library, and the city hopes to make more progress next year with cost estimates and funding sources for the major, much-anticipated project.

The city’s capital improvement budget includes a host of major projects on the city’s $140 million wish list, ranging from sewer and storm water drainage improvements to new parks equipment, that are proposed to be completed over the next five years, according to a city staff report presented this week to the City Council.

Councilman Rico Medina said that all the items on the list are major, important projects, and that he hasn’t identified a small handful of priorities to be left off the hefty listing. Medina, who said he was concerned about the rising cost of library construction, said part of the planning process includes visiting neighboring cities’ libraries to determine what features are a good fit for San Bruno.

Roughly $10.3 million is allocated to capital improvements this fiscal year, $401,128 of which is dedicated to planning the library.

Ideally, the city would have a two-story library, construction of which would start in March 2009 and be completed by 2011.

The project, in 2009 dollars, is expected to cost anywhere between $34 million and $51 million, Library Services Director Terry Jackson said.

The library, at 701 Angus Ave., was built in 1956. It houses less than a dozen computers and has several structural problems, including non-ADA compliance and cracking walls, Jackson said.

The new library would be more than 42,000 square feet, 3,080 square feet of which are planned to house space that would serve as City Council chambers and general meeting space.

Talks of a new library date back to 1984, when a study of deficiencies in the existing structure was completed. Discussions continued into the 1990s, but the issue didn’t rev up until 1997, when Councilwoman Irene O’Connell spearheaded formation of the San Bruno Library Foundation.

Voters in 2001 turned down Measure D, a $14 million bond measure meant to fund a new library and community center at the current civic center plaza. The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass, but only came away with 57-percent approval.

Among the problems was a lack of specifics about the project, including a lack of specifics on a proposed spot for the building on San Mateo Avenue.

Next fiscal year, the city hopes to get a handle on parking options, one of the biggest and most expensive parts of the project, and start public meetings on funding. This time around, Jackson said the city wants to show the public they have learned from past mistakes, should a bond measure become a likely way to help fund the library.

“The community deserves a new library,” Jackson said. “A space for community and gathering, something we don’t have right now.”