Saturday, December 4, 2004

No grant for Middletown's joint-use library project

The California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board has rendered its decision concerning allocation of library construction grant funds, and the Middletown joint use library did not make the final cut.

The board met on Monday, Nov. 29 to consider findings by staff in the Office of Library Construction (OLC), as well as individual summaries for each application.

"We're very disappointed that we didn't get one," said County Librarian Kathleen Jansen, referring to the allocation of $77 million in funding among a extremely competitive pool of applicants whose requests totaled $586.5 million. "We'll have to wait and see if the next bond passes."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill authorizing an additional $600 million in general obligation funds for the construction of public library facilities. Half of that amount would be allocated toward projects whose applications were unsuccessful in this final funding cycle. The Middletown joint use library 's application for $1.9 million in funding would be included in that consideration.

The bill must first be put to California voters, however. It is scheduled to appear on the ballot in March 2006.

"We can spend the next two years perfecting our grant application and getting ready to apply for that money," said District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey, pointing to one of what he sees as two directions facing the County of Lake as it pursues a new Middletown library . The county would continue partnering with the Middletown Unified School District in pursuing a joint-use library .

The other alternative is for the county to go alone, and look for alternative funding. "We already own the land," Robey said, referring to property on Big Canyon Road across from the Middletown High School. Escrow upon the property closed in June 2003.

The search for alternative funding could require a scaling-back of the project. Before the county decides upon a definite course of action, Robey said he will be talking to both the Middletown Unified School District and the Lake County Board of Supervisors.