Archives for category: Jan Flory
Hunt Register

The Hunt Branch Library, which has been closed to the public since April, has been encumbered with problems for years.

Matthew Leslie

The second of four planned meetings of the Library Ad Hoc Committee took place in the Community Room of Fullerton’s Main Branch on Monday, August 6. Though fully constituted, the Ad Hoc’s agenda still reflected a committee searching for basic information about the Hunt Branch Library, the disposition of which the committee is intended to consider, and the scope and efficacy of the committee itself. The ambitious agenda laid out for the evening gave rise to the hope that essential questions about the actual cost to operate the facility as a property library, requirements for bringing the building up to current accessibility standards and needed repairs, and even an accurate map of the property might finally be forthcoming.

Picking up where they last left off, weeks earlier, the Ad Hoc moved to choose a Chair and Vice Chair—the decision having been postponed until ninth member Molly McClanahan was seated to break a tie between Pete Beard and Randa Schmalfield. The revelation that Ms. Schmalfield was “delighted” not to serve as Chair led the committee to unanimously elect Mr. Beard Chair and Ms. Schmalfield Vice Chair.

With one clear decision under their belt, the nine Ad Hoc members surged on to the next item, existentially entitled Prioritizing Council Direction Regarding the Purpose of the Library Ad Hoc Committee, precipitated by a July 30 memo by member Barbara Kilponen , who suggested therein prioritizing, in order, Funding, the Library building’s use, and Landscaping. Library Director Judy Booth, an ex-officio member of the Ad Hoc also unreasonably tasked with staffing it, attempted to locate a map of the Hunt and its surrounding grounds on the city’s own website. Attendee James Cho, an affiliate of Hunt leasee Grace Ministries International (GMI) and unsuccessful applicant to the Ad Hoc, called out navigational instructions from the audience. Once found, the map led to more questions from the committee, including whether or not the adjacent dog park should be considered part of the Hunt Branch proper. Eventually, Molly McClanahan requested a more accurate map. Several members suggested that a Request for Proposals/Request for Qualifications (RFP/RFQ) be issued to solicit possible uses and occupants of the facility, referred to by Jan Flory as a “dying library.” Former council members on the committee explained that the Ad Hoc itself was not procedurally allowed to itself issue RFPs or RFQs, but there was general agreement, that the committee could recommend the City Council to do so.

For many years people have asked how much money it would cost to repair and reopen the Hunt Branch Library building. A definitive answer was not to be had that evening as the Ad Hoc moved on to its next item of business, but Director Judy Booth did provide a Preliminary Inspection Estimate totaling around $ 2.5 million. $ 1 million of the figure, characterized as a “guess” by Director Booth, was dedicated to the cost of replacing unbroken windows that had been painted black because they had been repeated etched by vandals. Replacement of interior lights was the second highest expense at $ 720,000, followed by $ 120,000 to replace the roof and another $ 160,000 for new heating and air conditioning systems. Other expenses included fending repair, exterior lights, and a fire sprinkler system. Other costs, like seismic retrofit and landscaping and internet connectivity were classified as “Unknown,” while gas, sewer, and water systems were not inspected.

A staff report estimated the cost of operating the Hunt Branch as a library once again as $ 832,956 for seven days a week or $ 679,630 for five days per week. Director Booth explained that an additional $ 200,000 would need to be spent on new collections, since the books currently housed at the Hunt were evidently assumed to be in such poor condition, presumably due to being shrink-wrapped for years while the building has been leased out to GMI. Technological upgrades were not included in the estimate either. Former Fullerton City Council member Jan Flory doubted that the current City Council would allocate $ 2.5 million to refurbish and repair the Hunt, but didn’t think the public would support selling the building and grounds either, and so supported finding an alternative use for the Hunt.

And so the committee moved on the next item, to considered Publicly Beneficial Uses of the Building and Grounds, including, but not limited to, a CSUF reading program satellite facility, a “maker-space” for robotics, a “creative space” for seniors, and different permutations of art and science spaces for kids. All the Arts for All the Kids was said to be interested in submitting a proposal. Committee member Michael Williams wondered whether or not the Hunt Branch was the best site for many of the suggested uses.

Committee member Elgeth Nuncii reported that Robert Pletka of the Fullerton School District had been about being a partner for programming at the Hunt, but no realistic suggestions for programming partners who might bring the necessary funding to repair the facility were forthcoming. Overall, fewer funding ideas were presented than uses for the site. They included Barbara Kilponen’s suggestion to invite architectural firms to lease the site for 99 years, and selling off portions of the property to fund the remainder, or to transfer the open spaces surrounding the building to the Parks and Recreation Department to take advantage of Park Dwelling Fees.

One audience member asked why the committee was presupposing that the city would ultimately be the owner of the Hunt Branch, to which Jan Flory responded that “there are two council people who are hot to sell it,” while the other three were “too chicken to say so.” In the recent past Doug Chaffee and Jennifer Fitzgerald have voiced support for selling the Hunt, while Bruce Whitaker and Jesus Silva have supported the city retaining it, while Greg Sebourn has remained noncommittal on the issue.

Ultimately, the Library Ad Hoc Committee voted to invite members of the public to submit ideas about possible funded uses for the Hunt Library at the Ad Hoc’s next meeting, to be held on Tuesday, September 4, 5:30 p.m. at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave.

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The Library Ad-Hoc Committee prepares to convene after the meeting was moved to the Hunt Library’s front porch to accommodate an overflow crowd.

Matthew Leslie

The new Library Ad-hoc Committee held its first meeting on July 11 at the Hunt Branch Library. The committee is charged with presenting options to the City Council for the ultimate disposition of the Hunt facility, now closed to the public, and leased out to neighboring Grace Ministries International (GMI), for the sum of $ 1,500.00 per month. Library Director Judy Booth, who serves as an ex-officio member of the Ad-Hoc, led dozens of members of the public on a tour of the historic William Pereira building before announcing that the meeting would have to be moved outside to accommodate the overflow crowd. Chairs, tables, microphones, and speakers were transported to the mid-century modern building’s spacious front porch where the meeting proceeded for hours through the warm summer evening.

The Library Ad-Hoc Committees mission is to ‘determine “what funding might be available to fund the (Hunt Branch Library) property as a Library or other opportunities for use of the property,” according to the meeting’s agenda. The five members of the Ad-Hoc directly appointed by City Council were first charged with the selection of a Chair and Vice Chair before selecting four additional members from a pool of nearly twenty applicants. During a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, however, applicant and former Fullerton City Council Member Jan Flory suggested reversing these two agenda items so that the additional four members of the Ad-Hoc could be seated before the Chair and Vice Chair elections. After other public comments, all five members of the Ad-Hoc (Peter Beard, Fern Richardson, Michael Williams, Egleth Nunnci, and Barbara Kilponen) voted to adopt Ms. Flory’s suggestion to reverse the order of the committee appointments and officer elections, taking up the former first.

Applicants were invited to introduce themselves to the committee members and respond to questions about their qualifications. In addition to Jan Flory, applicants included Rafael Avila, Scott Bryan (who withdrew his application on the spot), James Cho, Arnel Dino, homeless activist Curtis Gamble, former City Council Member and current NOCCD Board Member Molly McClanahan, Judith Milan, Kristie Prince, former Ladera Vista Principal Randa Schmalfeld, and nearby resident James Wolvert. Several applicants were not present for the meeting.

Ad-Hoc member Fern Richardson questioned applicant Jan Flory about her own role in failing to fund the Hunt as a Library and approving the lease to Grace Ministries during her tenure on the City Council. Jan Flory blamed the decision to “terminate library services” for the Hunt Branch on the economic downturn and the need for funds for the then-newly renovated Main Branch. She characterized the low monthly rental rate of $ 1,500.00 charged to Grace Ministries per month lease that she herself voted to approve as “shameful,” but explained that she supported it at the time because it was only supposed to last eighteen months, and that a plan was supposed to have been formulated for the Hunt’s future.

Each Ad-Hoc member rated a full list of applicants, with Library Director Booth serving as the de facto facilitator and elections committee. One audience member suggested that any applicant not present should not be considered for the position, but another noted that the date of the committee’s first meeting had not been advertised enough in advance for prospective members to alter prior commitments. The committee members agreed to consider all applicants, present or not. Ultimately, the four additional members selected by the committee were Jan Flory, Molly McClanahan, who was not present at the meeting, Kristie Prince, and Randa Schmalfeld.

Selection of a Chair and Vice-Chair ended in a deadlocked vote with four members supporting Peter Beard and four supporting Randa Schmalfeld. The eight present members agreed to proceed with the meeting with Peter Beard acting as Chair for the night, but postpone the decision on a permanent Chair and Vice-Chair until the next meeting, when a ninth member would be expected to break the tie.

The committee then addressed the scope of work it would perform, with respect to its City Council mandate, requesting materials and information for consideration at least three days in advance of their next meeting. Specifically, the committee directed the library staff to provide a spreadsheet and analysis of the projected costs to operate the Hunt once again as a library, including the estimated costs to update the facility to meet current requirements for publicly accessible buildings. Additionally, Committee Member Schmalfeld requested a detailed map of the property to help define which parts of it actually constitute the grounds of the Hunt with respect to the adjacent dog park surrounding tracts. Jan Flory went so far as to request all materials collected by SavetheHunt.com, a community group dedicated to keeping the facility in the public realm. The Ad-Hoc also committed to exploring other “beneficial uses of the building and grounds,” as well as possible funding sources for such uses.

The Library Ad-Hoc Committee will next meet at 5:30 p.m., Monday, August 6 at the Conference Center Room of the Main Library, located at 353 W. Commonwealth Ave.

All 79 precinct votes counted, the Orange County Registrar of Voters reports the following results for the contest for three seats on the Fullerton City Council:

ocvote2016citycouncil

More of the same(ish)

Lobbyist mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald was re-elected with the most votes, followed by second place finisher Bruce Whitaker.

Third place went to Jesus Silva, but results are preliminary because not all absentee ballots have been counted. In both 2010 and 2012 post-election night absentee ballot counts moved a candidate up into a winning position, displacing a candidate who appeared to have been successful on election night.  Jesus Silva leads Larry Bennett by a relatively comfortable margin of 779 votes. It will be difficult for Larry Bennett to overcome this deficit, but late absentee ballots generally favor conservative voters.

Larry Bennett was the choice of the establishment axis that gave him the support of retiring incumbent Jan Flory, and Councilmember Doug Chaffee both of whom declined to endorse Jesus Silva.

ocvote-measure-ii

Measure ii has passed, cursing the city with a horrible districts elections map until at least the next census in 2020.

More on the implications of the election later.

 

 

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