Who would throw away a million dollars? No one around here is willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, so the idea of a new library near downtown Larkspur is getting a lot of support.
More than 30 residents spoke up in front of the Larkspur City Council on Monday to voice their hopes for the future of a 2.53-acre parcel on the Rose Garden property.
Most of the residents spoke in favor of a library / community meeting room facility for the site. Other ideas include a recreation facility, a performing arts center, a digital/mixed media arts facility, or even a farm.
A Larkspur-Corte Madera Patch poll in February showed that a library received twice as much voter support as a community center.
"Open space for the public (or) habitat restoration is my pick," Liza Ryan Wozniak wrote on Facebook. "(A) community center/garden (is) ok too. We ought to get something for all the traffic."
"An anonymous donor has proposed to give funds to the City if the site is used for a new library. That is a factor," Larkspur Mayor Len Rifkind said, although that money won't pay for the whole facility. "These are issues for the City Council to consider."
The New Home Company bought the former Niven Nursery on Doherty Drive to develop for housing and agreed, according to city officials, to donate a parcel of land to the City in a development-ready state. Most of the parcel of land is available for construction, although a portion must be designated as park space.
The City Council hopes that when the parcel is officially handed over, plans for the parcel will already be set. The City Council will again seek public opinion on the topic at its May 16 meeting, which has been moved to the Hall Middle School gym, at 6:30 p.m.
A patron has offered a donation reportedly worth up to $5 million, which could cover nearly half the cost of the construction of a new library. Still, not everyone is convinced a library is the best use of the property.
"I'm told the Larkspur Library funding program has some sort of leg up because there is some promised funding for that, which would not be available for something else like a community center, which would probably be my preference," Larkspur resident Vicky Young said. "I would love to see a community center that would serve the whole population. If we're going to do a library, let's also do something for the older population. It's easy to get funding for kids programs, but not so easy for senior programs."
The current Larkspur Library is housed in the nearly 100-year old City Hall, which needs retrofitting to bring it into compliance with state and federal safety codes and to make it handicap accessible.
Lindsay Dubin, a fourth-grader at Neil Cummins Elementary School, gave a video presentation of what the library of the future could include: Kindles, Nooks, computers, study and tutoring areas. She further proposed that it should be green and energy efficient, with solar panels and no air conditioning.
Many residents have described the current library as "tiny," "out of date" and "unsuitable" for the needs of the community. Young , however, said she felt the library is "cozy."
"It just seems like so much a part of the community in its current location," she said of the current library location. Young, who describes herself as "an avid library patron," says people have a lot of choices with newer, more updated libraries in nearby towns.