RIVERSIDE: Board’s library site
pick runs into criticism
Suggested site at Mission Inn Avenue and Chestnut Street is cheapest of choices, but some say it’s too small.
From PE.com 1/22/16
After a cursory review of 11 other sites, Riverside library officials are sticking with their earlier recommendation to build a new main library on about a half-acre empty lot at Mission Inn Avenue and Chestnut Street.
Library board members voted last month to move the downtown facility rather than renovate the loved and hated 1960s building, but they didn’t agree on a site and asked for more possibilities.
On Monday, Jan. 25, the board likely will decide whether to go with the Chestnut site, which is less than half a mile away and is one of the closest to the current library at Mission Inn and Orange Street. Whichever site it recommends would go to the City Council for approval.
At $300,000, the Chestnut lot is the cheapest one staff reviewed. But some library supporters have criticized the site as too small and questioned where patrons would park.
“It’s a terrible site because it doesn’t meet any reasonable, objective list of criteria to select a public building site,” said resident Doug Shackelton, who works as a development consultant.
Besides the size and parking issues, he said, the site would have no room for amenities – the existing library is fronted by a grassy, treed plaza – and the surrounding neighborhood is blighted.
“There’s no dignity to this site; there’s no prominence to this site,” Shackelton said. He prefers the 2.8-acre Riverside Transit Agency bus terminal on University Avenue at Fairmount Boulevard.
The report said the staff also looked at five sites on UniversityAvenue, including the bus station and a 1.96-acre lot at University and Park Avenue pitched by City Councilman Andy Melendrez, as well as sites on Main, Market and North Orange streets, Northbend Street just south of the 60 and as far east as Chicago Avenue.
The sites ranged from 0.59 acres to 2.7 acres, and expected prices were between $300,000 and $3million.
Sites besides the Chestnut lot were described as not pedestrian-friendly and too far from downtown.
The report said the preferred site would have about as many parking spots as there are unmetered spaces at the existing facility.
WHERE TO BUILD?
Riverside officials are considering the best downtown site for a new main library, a project that has been in limbo for years and is not funded.
Suggested: The library staff narrowed a list of 12 spots to four, which are Market Street near Fairmount Park, Mission Inn Avenue and Chestnut Street, University and Park avenues and the bus terminal at University and Fairmount Boulevard.
Preferred: The staff’s pick is Mission Inn and Chestnut, which critics say is too small and out of the way.
Next steps: Library trustees will discuss the sites at 5 p.m. Monday at the main library, 3581 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. The City Council is expected to consider the issue Feb. 23.