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Tuesday July 17, 2007 | I sat on the Library Commission for three and a half years until former Mayor Dick Murphy did not appoint me. I was qualified for four more years so no waiving of policy that time … oh … I did not support his reelection campaign.
This being said, I worked hard with Mel Katz, Mary Walshok and many many others at the time to educate San Diegans that Libraries are a qualify of life amenity, just like the waterfront, just like police headquarters, fire stations. The long-proposed (over 20+ years of studies) new main library would not only serve the recent residents to downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods, but also serve the region.
With its auditoriums, theatres, meetings places and the technological opportunities, our proposed new main library would be a highlight for anyone living in the neighborhood, the region or visiting San Diego.
Clearly, downtown projects with public and private participants present complex problems in the design and execution. We absolutely need to understand the issues involved in why San Diego cannot seem to get the library off the ground (money clearly … but other reasons too) and then we need to agree that there is a strong need for strong central control to maintain quality, the balance required between the public interests and the private needs, and the need for flexibility so that as time passes the structure and the details of management process can be modified on the basis of experience.
We all know that public and private monies can be combined to enable otherwise seemingly impossible public participation. (Children’s Museum comes to mind) I can only hope that we are able to find the private funds needed to provide “matching funds” from the Centre City Development Corp. and the state of California. A combination of public and private funds can also overcome San Diego’s problem of sustaining an adequate cash flow to meet debt service payments and operating and maintenance expenses. If both the city and private monies contribute to the library the city can pay debt service and the developer/private entity can help with operating and maintenance expenses.
Just look at Chicago, which managed to develop, in less than 10 years, an entire library system (30 new libraries) based on the economic benefit to neighborhoods, the city and the region.
A yacht is clearly a luxury item, especially in these times. I disagree however, that a library, new meeting spaces, public art, gathering spaces, places for lectures and knowledge are “yachts.” In today’s busy times, these are necessary amenities in the contemporary life we lead today.