On Tuesday, the Oakley City Council received a report on what it would take to bring a new library to the City of Oakley.
The council discussed two plans which included a $26 million library close to 25,000 sq ft or a $10 million closer to 9,000 sq ft. With funding an issue, Supervisor Diane Burgis urged the council to hold off a decision until February 2024 to see how she can help Oakley come closer to the $26 million project and create a destination library.
The council agreed which now allows staff to come up with renderings and a site plan to begin looking at grants and other funding opportunities, including development of the O’Hara site (former Sheriffs sub-station) which could bring $2 million to funding the library.
Oakley is attempting to figure out how to pay for the library, which includes possibly utilizing a public-private partnership to fund construction for what could be a $26 million project. The city is attempting to build the library next to city hall on the vacant parcel, but build housing on O’Hara Avenue
The consultant shared the first goal was to ensure Oakley could afford the library and they design something within the means of the budget—including the amenities desired which were a children’s section, senior and veterans space, shared emergency operations center, space for city administration and possibly space to lease to elected officials.
Its estimated to cost $1,000 per square foot according to the consultant who gave other examples of recent libraries that opened.
- Pleasant Hill – opened in 2022 at a cost of $33.6 million.
- Mountain House – opened in 2021 at a cost of $31 million.
- Berkeley – opened in 2013 at $6.5 million (just 8,500 sq ft)
- Berkeley – opened in 2013 at $7.9 million (9,500 sq feet)
- San Francisco – opened in 2013 at $13.5 million (just 9,000 sq ft)
The City of Oakley was presented with two options which included a “gold option” that was 24,000 square feet with all the amenities requested. That cost was $24.8 million.
To help fund it, the consultant discussed the O’Hara location to utilize the block in an effort to build housing to fund the library – including multiple layouts from single family homes, town homes, duets, garden apartment test of 3-story building. The following is a breakdown of how much housing the space could bring depending on the style option chosen
- Single-family homes (1750 sq ft) – 22 units (project cost = $421,900 per unit)
- Townhouses (1143 sq ft) – 48 units (project cost = $391,200 per unit)
- Garden Apartments (936 sq ft) – 64-84 units ($398,500 per unit)
- Podium Apartments (900 sq ft) – 128 units (543,000 per unit)
It was also shared that due to the State Surplus Lands Act requirements that at a minimum the project would require 25% housing for low-income households. The consultant said the most viable option is the single family housing based on cost and funding for the library—estimated land value of $2 million at its maximum.
According to the consultant, with a goal of a $25 million building, between donations and other revenue, the city stands at approximately just $9 million and needs another $14 million to move forward.
City Manager Josh McMurray stated as they seek direction from the council that its something “feasible” and “lives within our means” while noting they are spending millions to improve road safety on East Cypress along with Laurel Road improvements.
“In the grand scheme of things, we don’t have the capacity to generate the $25 million plus needed to construct,” stated McMurray. “How do we deliver something to the community that they so desperately need, how do we move the library from a high school campus to its own permanent building… with all of that in mind, what I want to present is something realistic and achievable right now.”
McMurray stated he was proposing using the $2 million in land from O’Hara, plus $2.5 million of ARPA money with $500k in public facilities account along with unassigned fund balance that they have approximately $4 million to dedicate—while keeping the 30% reserve intact—which gives them close to $9 million available.
McMurray says his proposal which drop the plan from $25 million and a 25,000 square foot building to a library at just 9,000 square feet and around $10 million. He said the proposal is 3-times the size of the current library at Freedom High School.
During public comments, Liz Fuller spoke sharing the 9,000 sq ft library will be too small and over time the city will realize that.
Meanwhile, Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis spoke as she urged the council to hold off on any decision until February because she believed the $10 million project won’t be an issue in funding, she believed working with state and federal partners, Oakley could get to the $25 million.
Councilmember Anissa Williams questioned if there was $10 million available for a Bay Point Library, why couldn’t the same $10 million be available for the City of Oakley Library. She didn’t want to miss out on grant funding and wanted to move forward with the larger library plan.
“I am biased, I work next to the Brentwood library, and I see the traffic and traction and programming they can accomplish there. Our Oakley library has done incredible things in the 3,000 space, but I don’t want to limit ourselves,” said Williams. “Even if we hold out for the bigger, can we still get a rendering so we don’t miss out on grant funding.”
McMurray said they can work to get renderings and a site plan in place.
Councilmember Shannon Shaw stated while living within her means, she always strives for more because if not she would not be where she is. She wanted to see if they could hit the $25 million in funding because if they couldn’t, they know they can do the smaller project.
“With a rendering and other potential sources of funds, I would love to see if we can reach it and field the best library in the area because I am tired of just settling for what we have to do and not what we can do if we get the right people on board,” stated Shaw.
Councilmember George Fuller called the proposal by Burgis was pragmatic and agreed with noting that Oakley is at 43,000 people and still growing—he wanted to access additional funding. He wanted to put off any decisions until February.
Councilmember Hugh Henderson said they needed a library and has needed one for more than 20-years and was curious if they could meet in the middle around the $16 million range to live within their means—he suggested they design it bigger but have a scaled down version as well.
Mayor Meadows supported going after the $25 million with renderings at the 24,000 sq ft in size and if they shoot lower, that is where they will end up. He said if they hit the number, they get it, if they get a portion, they could shrink the plan in size.
“I would prefer in the short term we shoot for the stars and go for the bigger library,” said Meadows.
Councilmembers Shaw and Williams agreed. The council also directed staff to ensure the architecture fits in with the surrounding buildings and neighborhood.