A Needed Library, YES, but another Great Park Boondoggle?

Irvine is moving forward with a badly needed new library branch at the Great Park. But is a single $220 million project the best way forward?

 

Irvine loves libraries. Who's the crabby person?

Irvine loves libraries and needs more. But $220 million for a single building?

 

The big item on Tuesday night’s city council is a new, much needed  library branch at the Great Park.  This is Mayor Choi‘s baby and is consistent Lennar’s marketing plans, so I assume it will sail through.

Still, it’s worth discussing. As a result of deals struck when Irvine was forming, Irvine pays more than  for many shared county services including libraries and protection the older OC cities.   Renegotiating these long term contracts has been bipartisan rallying point for years, which has slowly produced results. For example, in 2012:

The City entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the County of Orange that creates a set-aside account for new branches/services in Irvine and requires Irvine to remain in OCPL for 10 years, FY 2021-22. The MOU recognizes the City’s contributions to its public library system and projected population growth that will result in a need for expanded library services in Irvine. Conservative estimates forecast that approximately $18 million will be available at the end of the contract.

So that’s $18 million for a new library branch. Yay!  Irvine desperately needs more library space, as anyone who has been University Park or Heritage Park branches on a weekday afternoon knows.

But apparently grandiose Great Park delusions haven’t passed with the passing of the Great Park Team.  The tonight’s proposal is for a $212 million, 220,00 square foot facility. That’s massive! Irvine’s three current branches are only 43,661 square feet (SF) combined.

This is a very odd way to move forward. What makes Irvine’s library vital and vibrant is they are integrated into their respective “villages.” The University Park branch is essentially the “study hall” for South Irvine. The Heritage Park library is a central Irvine’s community space, and Katie Wheeler is as much a museum as a library (in a good way).  A massive, remote facility will make for great campaign mailers, but what Irvine needs is more libraries in our neighborhoods, not a book-laden “Taj Choi” sepulcher  on the edge of town.

 


About Tyler in Irvine

Twenty Year Irvine Resident. Native Texan and proud Longhorn. Pro-Choice Ron Paul supporter. "Do I contradict myself? ... then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman