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By Carol Bogart Daily Republic
SUISUN CITY - When completed, Suisun City's first freestanding library will be twice as big as the one now occupying leased space on the second floor of a commercial building at 333 Sunset Avenue.
The new facility at 601 Pintail Drive will be 10,000 square feet. Exterior work is nearly finished, and work on the interior is progressing. The $5.4 million library is expected to open in the summer, said Ann Cousineau, director of Solano County Library Services.
The county will pay for the move, Cousineau said, and cover the new library's $800,000 annual operating costs.
The design of the new library incorporates direct access for students at Suisun Elementary School, said Rob Pierce, the assistant superintendent of facilities and operations for the Fairfield-Suisun School District. The school, located at 725 Golden Eye Way, will have exclusive use of the library each school day from 8 to 10 a.m.
Phil Kay, contract construction manager for the district, said the library property will be fenced and that students will be funneled directly from the school to the children's section of the library through a secure entrance.
The district, county and city have all participated in funding the construction through the combined use of redevelopment fees. Pierce explained that by state law a portion of the fees paid by developers who build in Suisun City must go directly to the district.
The district contributed $2.6 million, the city $1.7 million and the county $1.2 million. Pierce said all but $500,000 of Suisun City's contribution will be repaid to the city from future redevelopment fees.
To site the library, Pierce said the city deeded to the district a parcel of land in Carl E. Hall Park, which means the district owns both the building and the land. He said this is advantageous when the district applies for state grants.
So far, the district has not been successful in getting state money to reimburse any of the district's investment in the library, but Pierce said the district will resubmit its grant request in May. Any money it gets back, the district can use toward other things, such as modernizing Suisun Elementary or building a new cafeteria at the school.
The state caps such grants at $1 million, said Pierce, who added that any amount approved would be split evenly with Suisun City.
The new library will be able to offer expanded services, Cousineau said. For instance, the number of computers will go from six to 33. As a result, she said the county will look at increasing the time an individual can use a computer on any given day.
Right now, the maximum time allowed is just 30 minutes, which could increase to as much as three hours in the new library's computer center. 'A half hour is not conducive to working on a paper or a resume,' Cousineau said.
Pierce said the new library 'has been a need of the city's for quite some time. It's been a wonderful collaboration in terms of the joint venture.' An added plus for the city, he said, is that in a time of 'budget woes,' the city no longer has to lease library space with money from the General Fund.
Construction of the new library began April 2 and is projected to be completed by this April on time and within the budget, Kay said.
Cousineau said the new library's conference room will be heavily used for library-sponsored programs, given the facility's proximity to Suisun Elementary. Community groups can reserve the conference room for 'a modest fee,' she added. If the library co-sponsors the event, the fee will be waived.
Pierce is particularly proud of the spirit of cooperation that infused the library project.
'Everybody left their egos at the door,' he said. 'It's been a pretty phenomenal job on the part of all three agencies.'
Once the library opens, its hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 firstname.lastname@example.org