OCEAN BEACH, CA. The Union-Tribune reported today that the Ciy of San Diego is borrowing $103 million for a slew of repair projects, which include a sum of $150,000 to replace the roof of the Ocean Beach branch library. If the City is about to replace the 80 year old building’s roof, that probably means we don’t have to worry about its closure during the next round of budget crisis maneuvering. Doesn’t it?
As we know, the OB branch was slated to be one of the 7 libraries Mayor Jerry Sanders wanted last October to close in order to meet budgetary short-falls. Community reactions – especially in Ocean Beach – but all over the City gave Councilmembers enough backbone to block Sanders’ proposed gutting of the libraries.
I called the OB Library to see if Matt Beatty – the librarian – had additional news. And of course, being Friday, OB’s library doesn’t open until 12:30 in the afternoon. Geez! We can’t afford any more hour reductions, that’s for sure.
After leaving a voice messge for the U-T’s reporter, I called Councilmember Kevin Faulconer’s District 2 office for more info on the replacement job. His Communications Director Tony Manolatos sent me an email:
The City plans to get bids this summer for all the work included in the $103 million infrastructure bonds. When the work will begin is not definite, although the City plans to begin construction after the rainy season.
The roof replacement is expected to last 4-6 months. The library is expected to remain open during this time. The repairs were included in the infrastructure bond plans because there have been issues with the roof.
So, there ya go.
But, trully, if the City is going to go through the bidding and contracting process to replace the roof, it appears the City is at least moving in the direction of keeping the building intact. Maybe keeping our library branch open is another story. But a new roof does give us ammunition during the next budget crisis.
Yet, we do have to be careful. We should not and cannot accept any more reductions in our library’s hours or staffing. Watch for this end run around the issue of keeping the doors ajar. Even though many OB residents have expressed a willingness to volunteer at the library in order to keep it open, this is not a community versus city employee battle. Librarians are not like Starbucks evaporistas, temp workers coming and going. Librarians are certified professionals. Like Matt Beatty. Volunteers can help – but they cannot replace our librarians.