An expanded library would be an asset for the City of Oakley, at least in my mind. However, the financial arrangement for the facility’s construction would entail an additional property tax if approved by the voters. In many areas of the city, property taxes are an immense burden. The taxes on owners of new homes east of Main Street are oppressive in my perspective. I would not support such an increase in property taxes to pay for an expanded library.

            In pondering the predicament, one solution came to mind. Construct a new library downtown on the dirt pad that runs along the south of the railroad tracks. The library would contain the usual services, but the hope would be to have a Starbucks, Peet’s, or similar coffee house within the building. The business would lease space from the city for the library, perhaps deferring some of the costs for construction. Attached to the library would be space for an art studio that could serve as a music venue (jazz, blues, and such) evenings and weekends. Perhaps even poetry readings, which I would imagine attract people from around East County to participate.

            Considering a new Senior Center is a positive step for the community. The Senior Center that now exists is inadequate for the needs of our seniors in my mind. In addition, a railroad museum could materialize. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), the organization touting the train stop, has 1.3 billion dollars to spend and expects more money to be forthcoming. During an SJJPA finance meeting, the members asked people to submit ideas of how best to use the money. An Amtrak Museum would seem appropriate.

            Where would the parking lot be placed? First, the city needs to ascertain the need for the parking lot. Such a parking structure could be a multi-story on the county property located the former sheriff’s station existed. The rumor is that the county would donate the property to the city with the stipulation that the city constructs a library on the property.  I would hope to have the stipulation would read to facilitate the construction of a library. Such an arrangement would allow the city to move any vehicle parking plans to the county property, opening the downtown area for a library building.

            Financing could be from several resources. The city has a large amount of money allocated to it for pandemic relief. Could resources from the fund go towards a library construction project? The SJJPA has over a billion dollars to spend. Money could be used from that resource. The county will be looking for infrastructure development locations. Perhaps the county could contribute?

            Just some thoughts. A trial balloon.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
Councilmember, City of Oakley 

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