In all the commotion caused by the City’s decision to create its own library system, perhaps the most unfortunate byproduct has been the inactivity of the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library.
Since 2001, the County of Los Angeles Public Library has leased the facility, owned by the City of Santa Clarita.
In July 2009, the County began construction on an additional 4,500 square foot addition – with an estimated cost of $1,852,000 – using appropriated public library developer fee funds.
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With the project nearing completion, the Santa Clarita withdrew from the County Library system on August 24, opting to contract with Library System and Services, LLC, a library management company with clients throughout the country.
Construction came to a standstill, with services at the Canyon Country library consisting of nothing more than a book mobile parked outside.
A series of discussions followed, with both sides stating their case for how the project’s completion should be funded.
In late October, County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd wrote to Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp, “Since the project is funded with fees paid by developers of residential housing in the unincorporated portion of the Canyon Country library service area, the County has a fiduciary responsibility to the unincorporated area residents to ensure the funds are allocated according to state law.”
Pulskamp responded, shortly before a meeting on the issue between City and County officials: “As you are aware, the County adopted a development impact mitigation fee in 1999. Therefore, while the County has been collecting development fees for over 10 years they have not, until this current project, spent them in Canyon Country.”
While no word of a potential compromise surfaced in the following weeks, a recent staff reports suggests that construction may finally recommence.
As part of a tentative deal, using a total of $622,000 from City funds, the County will complete the project and reopen the library by March 1, 2011. To date, the County has already invested $1,188,660 in the project.
In turn, the County will support the City’s request to join the Southern California Library Cooperative, which supplies books and other media. The City will also provide library services to unincorporated County residents at its three branches for at least five years.
The City Council will vote on whether of not to approve the deal at its Tuesday meeting. The County Board of Supervisors will take up the issue next month.