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Turlock Library expansion proceeds forward
Turlock Library expansion

A new library for the Turlock community got the final stamp of approval Tuesday night after the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors voted to accept a final budget for the project and hire an architectural firm.

Voting 4-0 (one member was absent), the Board approved spending a total of $12.7 million and hiring Roebbelen Contracting Inc. out of El Dorado Hills to complete the design and build phases of the project.

“This community has worked tirelessly for years for a better library,” said Stanislaus County Assistant Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer Patricia Hill Thomas.

The current Turlock Library was built in 1968, for an anticipated population of 30,000. While the city’s population has reached an estimated 72,000, the library has not been able to grow with it. The current library facility has no dedicated meeting rooms or space for library programming, such as children’s story times and informational presentations for consumers.

The project will be both an expansion and renovation of the current facility on Minaret Avenue. It’s slated to begin around May 2020 and should be completed by February 2021. The library will be closed during construction, though a pop-up option will be open in the Turlock Senior Center’s music room. Stanislaus County Library Director Sarah Denton said the pop-up branch will primarily be used for people picking up requested materials. It will be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The space also will be used for children’s story time from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays. The book drop outside the library will remain and be checked routinely for returned items.

Closing the library during construction saves more than $800,000 and cuts about seven months from the timeline, according to Hill Thomas.

The savings from closing the library also allowed the design team of WRSN Studios to give something the Turlock community was clamoring for — more space. The approved design includes more space for the teen and children collections, as well as a makers space and storage.

The majority of the funding for the library will come from a loan from the Tobacco Endowment Fund for $6.3 million. Additional funding comes from the library fund balance ($3.5 million); public facility fees ($1.1 million); general fund deferred maintenance of $500,000, which was already set aside for replacing the air conditioning and heating; and $1.3 from the general fund.

The construction cost is around $10 million, which includes the building of it, all the interior, including furnishings and technology, and any project contingencies.

Supervisor Jim DiMartini initially begrudged the project, saying the cost seemed extensive. However, Hill Thomas pointed out that the Board has already approved a $12.9 million budget for the project and County staff was coming back with a final budget that was around $200,000 less, even with the rise in cost for construction supplies.

Supervisor Terry Withrow was enthusiastic about the project, stating it was a worthy expense for both the present and the future.

“This is not a boondoggle that we are spending money on,” Withrow said. “We are investing in our community.”