Swinerton In the News

Swinerton Management & Consulting: March 04, 2016

El Cerrito endorses library site

EL CERRITO -- The City Council has moved decisively toward bringing the 10-year-old movement to build a new city library to a climax by endorsing a plan that would use a portion of the site of the temporary Korematsu Middle School campus.

The unanimous decision Tuesday brings the West Contra Costa school district into the picture because it owns the site across Moeser Lane from Cerrito Vista Park.

Korematsu students will be moving to their new campus about three blocks away on March 28, but West Contra Costa has had long-standing plans to use the site for a temporary campus for Fairmont Elementary School while a new Fairmont is being built.The library plan was chosen from five options presented by Group 4 Architecture and Swinerton Management & Consulting. It calls for construction of a 21,000-square-foot library building, with 7,500 square feet of community activity and meeting space on the second floor and a 90-space parking lot in the rear.The portable classrooms housing Korematsu would be reconfigured onto a 75,600-square-foot parcel to the north of the library parking lot to create the temporary Fairmont campus.The plans call for the project to be completed by the end of 2019. El Cerrito has been in preliminary discussions with the district regarding the site, according to the staff report, and will bring the concept to the district's facilities subcommittee meeting on Tuesday and to a full school board meeting shortly after.

The city is proposing to lease the land from the district for 50 years at no cost or "very
nominal cost."

"This assumption is based on the fact that the site has always been used for public services and that the city and the district largely have the same constituencies," according to the staff report.

The final plan could also involve trading the site of El Cerrito's current 67-year-old library and adjoining senior center to the district for the Korematsu parcel.

These buildings are on Stockton Avenue next door to the Fairmont campus, and their demolition would allow more space for a new campus on a currently constrained site.

Funding for the library plan the council chose, estimated at about $30 million, will depend on passing a construction bond measure planned for the November ballot.

The other library choices included building a library along with a new Contra Costa Civic Theatre on the theater's current city-owned site across Moeser Lane from the Korematsu campus.

Council members also rejected an option of acquiring a site along San Pablo Avenue for the library and combining it with housing or retail development.

"Since we don't have the land (along San Pablo), the uncertainty about it is too great," said Mayor Greg Lyman.

The council also agreed to spend $96,000 from the 2015-16 general fund for a public outreach campaign, including mailings, to promote the library bond and for another survey of community priorities to help fill in the details for the library plan.

Some Fairmont parents at the council meeting objected to having library construction taking place next to the temporary campus, but the district's school construction funding picture indicates that the library could very well be completed long before the temporary campus
is needed.

Fairmont placed 10th on a priority list of 21 schools in the district's draft Facilities Master Plan released last week.

The district has about $200 million in bonding capacity left for construction of new schools, most of which cannot be accessed for several years.

School district spokesman Marcus Walton said West Contra Costa is prepared to consider the city's proposals and reiterated that the Facilities Master Plan is still in the development stages.

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