New Public Library Plans for Santa Monica
While different aspects of the economy taking hits and suffering, one place that can't complain about a decrease in business is the Santa Monica Public Library, which has seen increases in visitors in recent years. These increases have prompted discussions of opening a new branch of the library which would be located on Pico Boulevard, though the exact location is still being determined. The most popular suggestion as a location for the new branch is Virginia Avenue Park, just blocks from Santa Monica College's main campus. This proposal however, has not been an easy one to gather a consensus on, as many members of the Santa Monica community and City Council are reluctant to construct a new building if it will interfere with a public park that enhances the community. Those against building the library at the Virginia Avenue Park location would prefer to see the project take place at a different location, though still somewhere along Pico Boulevard, wherever space may be available.
One of the main reasons that many are reluctant to make major changes to the park's location is because it is still fairly new, opening just four years ago adding a much appreciated face lift to the Pico and Cloverfield intersection. Should the park be the location of the new library, it would most likely be built on the site currently used to hold the weekly Sunday Farmer's Market. However, proponents of the idea argue that with numerous schools of all levels in the immediate area, ranging from elementary all the way up to college level, the library would attract many students and others in the area that may not be attracted to the more outdated Fairview Branch Library on Ocean Park Boulevard which opened in 1956, or may not want to travel the distance it would take to reach the facility on Santa Monica Boulevard. Also, while it may cause the park to decrease in size, it would help continue to improve the overall appearance and amenities that the park had already began improving the area upon the completion of its construction four years ago.
It has also been said that the construction of the library at the park's location would be beneficial to the commercial strip which serves Santa Monica's most poor and ethnically diverse neighborhood. However, it should be noted that the cost of building the library at the park would cost an estimated $12.8 million compared to an estimated $30 million at another Pico location. The operating cost is estimated to be about $870,000 annually.