Build the new library downtown?

After months of waiting, Gilroy and Morgan Hill were handed
disappointing news last week.
After months of waiting, Gilroy and Morgan Hill were handed disappointing news last week. Both South Valley cities were denied in the first round of competition for Proposition 14 funds to build new libraries. It’s disheartening that all the hard work put in by city leaders, library staff and volunteers didn’t reap a reward this time.

But there’s still hope. While Gilroy’s $11.4 million grant application to construct a new city library didn’t receive any of the $138 million in funding doled out by the state’s library construction board, there is another $120 million to be granted next year in round two.

Gilroy must submit another application, and we urge community leaders from all sectors to shake off the disappointment and use the setback as an opportunity to explore synergies that might give Gilroy a leg up in the next round. It’s worth the exercise to take some time and think outside the box. What creative ideas would make Gilroy’s application – whether that means a tune-up or a major overhaul – slam dunk?

We have a couple of ideas to kick-start some brainstorming sessions:

• Given the sorry state of Gilroy’s downtown, why not consider revamping the proposal to place the library downtown? A library on Monterey Street could be a way of leveraging funds from the state and the city on a new facility into the next step of revitalizing Gilroy’s downtown.

Think of the number of people a downtown library would draw to the city center. If you agree that a community’s downtown is its heart and soul, what could be a better start at renewing Gilroy’s spirit than a library at its core? Think about it. A downtown library could be a catalyst for improving existing businesses and the additional foot traffic would likely make it more feasible for new businesses to set up shop.

Without an RDA and with budget crises surrounding every conceivable source for downtown rehab funds, it’s worth serious consideration to make library building dollars work even harder for Gilroy.

• Look for new ways to come up with joint-use proposals with local schools. Joint use with schools weighs heavily in the scoring process with the California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board, the group charged with doling out the Prop. 14 bond money.

Gavilan College and Gilroy Unified School District officials should sit down with the folks in charge of Gilroy’s Prop. 14 application. By putting heads together, perhaps we can come up with an innovative, cooperative idea that will woo those who judge the hundreds of applications because Gilroy’s approach stands out.

Above all, everyone involved needs to keep their chins up. It’s worth noting that all the communities granted Prop. 14 funds in the first round had no library at all. Yes, Gilroy’s facility is bursting at the seams, but we’ve got another shot at getting that much-needed $11.4-million grant of state money.

It’s going to take more hard work and creative thinking, but those are assets Gilroy’s got in spades. Let’s put on our thinking caps, sharpen our pencils and get to work. We can turn this disappointment into an opportunity to craft an even better proposal that might even do double duty as a boost for Gilroy’s downtown and schools.

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