: views from the Hill

Friday, September 05, 2008

North Beach library ... addendum 1

North Beach Library and why it matters. The original.

Addendum 1:

Someone involved with pushing the Triangle site asked me to explain to her what my issues were. (She's happy that the Library Commission stamped "go forward" on the paperwork to put the North Beach Library on the Triangle at yesterday's meeting.)

I wrote back: (some of this you may have seen before)

The location is the wrong one.

Playground supporters would rather not have the Library at Greenwich and Columbus where it would take away some playground space.

Playground supporters and financial issues with the RecParks budget (or lack thereof) are driving what should have been a neighborhood effort to build the best possible library for North Beach.

Instead we are getting a triangular library, a known issue that Brian Bannon told me he had problems with initially as well but he thinks the architect has come up with a solution that will work within the confines of the location.

"Will work"? Is that the best possible library for North Beach?

The Triangle is not the best location for the library. The architect should not be asked to "try" if they can make a less than optimal location work if what we want is the best library possible.

The parcel is 4120 sq ft per assessor's records. The proposed library is to have a 5700-5950 sq ft footprint. Do the math.

If it =is= possible to squeeze out over existing sidewalks and squeeze into Mason to create a footprint that's 40% or so larger than the current lot, then we will certainly be at the outer edges of what's possible within the perimeter bounded by Columbus, Lombard and Mason's utilities issues.

The library at that site will never grow any bigger. Ever.

It can't.

... unless you believe in flying pigs who will pay to relocate the works that are under Mason some time in the future when the library is (again) bursting its seams.

The library should be at a site where it can grow, if in the future it needs to. Heck, it should be at a site where it can be larger than what's proposed for the Triangle from the get-go.

The proposed library site was shifted over to the Triangle because (1) the Triangle turned out not to be as useful an acquisition for RecParks as originally billed and RecParks had no money to develop it anyway and (2) playground supporters didn't want to give up =any= of the existing playground area.

Shame that.

So we wind up with a subpar library for North Beach with scant additional space after bookcases and tables and chairs and staff workspace &c. and so on are set in a triangular footprint with ADA spacing.

I expected better. I'm really disappointed that there wasn't more support from Joe DiMaggio supporters and NorthBeach moms & al. to get the library North Beach deserves.

Instead of something genuinely bigger and better and wonderful we're getting something cramped into the Triangle, putting bulk on a major piece of the Columbus corridor and adding more walls where people were promised open space and greenery during the eminent domain kerfuffle.

Carlo Cestarollo had a fit when I told him about the library plans.

But it's supposed to be a park, he said. Some place for people to rest as they walk from North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf. Benches. Shade. A bit of green. When did they change their minds?


We'll have a new building! Wonderful! We'll be ADA compliant! Wonderful! We'll have more computers and all that whizbang! Wonderful. Why Luis Herrera even promises me that we'll have room to expand the collection by 10-15%!

Wow. Being as our current collection is squeezed and too small already and being as we should be planning a library that should at least be viable for twenty years -- scratch that ... make it fifty years being as that was the last time we got this opportunity -- we should be demanding a building that will handle far far more than a collection expansion of 10-15%. And, to be honest, I think Luis Herrera, whom I like, was giving me the most generous estimate for collection expansion possible because he knew how steamed I was about all this.

I am really disappointed in the location chosen.

Should the library be built there we won't have the best library we could have had given the possibilities and that is really too bad in the end for the library, residents, families, children, and seniors of North Beach. ... and for me.

... and so it goes.

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