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Council President Ben Hueso supports moving forward with an agreement with the school district that could place a 300-student charter high school in the long-stalled downtown library.
Hueso said the proposed library is an “exciting project” that will complement the revitalization of East Village.
“I think we’re very close to bringing this project together,” Hueso said. “We do have a lot of money that we’ve raised. I think we could raise the remainder from charitable contributions.”
The city recently reported that $27.5 million in private donations have been committed to constructing the library. At least $35.8 million more would have to be raised to complete construction. Another $10 million in private donations have been pledged for operating the library, a city report states.
But Councilwoman Donna Frye wants lots more information before she’d pledge her support, including updated financial figures and an analysis of what it would cost to include the library in a proposed civic center complex. The idea should be studied , Frye said, despite a July 1 deadline to hang on to a $20 million state grant.
“This is sort of a recurring theme that if we don’t do it today, we’ll lose the money,” Frye said. “Last minute isn’t always the best way. Sometimes if it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work.”
Frye also wonders whether kids living downtown would actually attend the charter school in the library, “or if there actually are that many students downtown.” It’s an interesting question, as my colleage Emily Alpert explored in this July story.
I’ve been polling council members because this is a big week for the project. Later today, it will be considered by a committee of citizens overseeing a $2.1 billion school bond, which would be used for the $20 million the school district would kick in to lease the two floors for 40 years.
The school board will take up the issue Tuesday, to be followed by the City Council’s Rules, Open Government and Intergovernmental Relations Committee on Wednesday. The full City Council would probably vote on an agreement in early July.
Of the City Council members I’ve reached so far, Kevin Faulconer supports moving forward and Tony Young isn’t sure, and Carl DeMaio has been opposed to the project.