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060220 ADM Hunt Branch Library Proposal

The proposal being recommended to the City Council.

Matthew Leslie

The Fullerton City Council is scheduled to consider proposals for programming in the closed Hunt Branch Library during it’s regular meeting on June 2. Eight different organizations responded to a Request for Proposals issued last November by the city to solicit programming proposals for the site. A five member panel that included members of the Library Ad Hoc Committee reviewed the proposals following direction by the council in March. The highest ranked proposal came from Heritage Future in partnership with Arts Orange County. The council is being asked to approve staff engaging with the Heritage Future/Arts OC.

Eight responses were received to the city’s Request for Proposals, issued in November, 2019.

Arts OC is a non-profit arts advocacy group founded twenty years ago at a time when such an organization was lacking in the county. Every major, and most minor, arts organization in OC is a member of the group, which advocates for arts funding and support and provides organizational and other services to both local governments and constituent members. For many years they have managed the Imagination Celebration in Orange County. Heritage Future was founded by Kevin Staniec, a writer, publisher, and arts impresario who founded and directs the 1888 literary space in Orange and has organized exhibitions for the City of Irvine’s Great Park gallery for many years and previously worked for the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.

The joint proposal envisions utilizing the historic Hunt Branch Library as an arts and literary presentation and educational space. Staniec would serve as the program team leader, while Arts OC would help to conceive, plan, and implement programs for the space and grounds. The proposal also includes architect Robert Young, who would presumably direct use of $2.5 million in state funding for renovations and restoration of the building.

What oversight the Library Board of Trustees will have of the project is unclear, but the state grant requires that the site retain some aspect of library use.

The library’s tenant, Grace Mission University, also submitted a proposal to utilized the site, scoring at number 5 of the 8 submitted proposals. The next to highest score was received for a proposal called Hunt Library Gardens, but no other information about it is provided in the agenda report, nor were proposals submitted by Access California, Arborland (who operate a private school in Amerige Heights), Faruk Zia & Associates, OCHCC, or Bonnie Hall.

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Matthew Leslie

At 5:30 p.m., May 7, the Fullerton City Council will hold a Study Session about the Hunt Library in the council chambers located at 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. The purpose of the session is to discuss “identifying and prioritizing future potential uses of the Hunt Branch Library as recommended by the Library Ad Hoc Committee.”

The full agenda report can be found at this link: https://fullerton.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3936489&GUID=0CB906F8-716A-4A3B-B07B-EDE3C7FB972E

The page includes a copy of the Library Ad Hoc Committee’s report to the Fullerton City Council, as well as a letter from the Library Board of Trustees, who wrote that “We endorse the goals presented by the Library Ad Hoc Committee, and we agree with their first priorities emphasizing a broad spectrum of literacy programs. This priority would include Art, Culture, Museum Uses, Events, Activities and Classes which would benefit the larger Fullerton community.”

On February 1 of this year the council directed city staff to schedule the study session in order to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued by the city. Non-profits or other outside agencies could respond to the RFP with proposals to operate on the site, providing programming in accordance with list of prioritized uses identified by the Library Ad Hoc Committee (literary, arts and culture, events, classes, etc.).

The staff report for May 7 recommends developing an RFP to solicit partner organizations to not only provide compatible programming in accordance with those suggested by the Ad Hoc Committee, but also one that would obtain “grants and other funding for capital and other improvements to the building and grounds to modernize its technology ability, make it accessibility compliant, and to repair and / or replace necessary plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems,” suggesting that the city is not prepared to make these investments.

The agenda report anticipates considering responses to an issued RFP sometime before the end of this year.

The study session represents a valuable opportunity for supporters to attend and voice their support for keeping the Hunt Library in the public realm.

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