Dear Oakley City Council Members: Respectfully, I believe that you got it wrong by literally abandoning the Friends of the Oakley Library members at the last City Council meeting.
The City Council should be embracing and endorsing the Friends of Oakley Library’s vision of a downtown library in the old Centro-Mart building on Main Street (BTW, it is not the Centro-Mart building anymore – it is vacant, remember, without a glimpse of a new tenant in sight).
Please stop putting up roadblocks that are unnecessary and unrealistic. You should be partnering and assisting them like you would any new business or venture that you would want in Oakley.
The library, if placed there, will bring an estimated 80,000 patrons per year to the downtown area and help the area become an anchor for Oakley’s downtown revitalization and future. The last time I checked, the downtown area is not all that appealing yet. While I appreciate the fact that we do have some businesses located there, I don’t think a bait shop and a skateboard store really have the same pull as a new library. It will also make use of a building that otherwise will become an unwelcome model of urban blight situated across the street from City Hall, as it further deteriorates if a new tenant is not found.
Please stop making excuses. Please stop asking for additional undefined minutiae and vague details from the Friends as you did at that last meeting. The Friends is an advocacy group – not a group of investors, architects, interior designers, marketers or political election managers – they look to you for your help, contacts and encouragement.
Unfortunately, the council provided no vision, leadership or help. You have now asked for a new plan to be provided by your next meeting in February, which is unfair. Stop the bait and switch.
It was embarrassing watching as each of you blurted out any random thought that came to your minds as the now new requirements to move forward. Your city manager already had many of the fiscal and procedural answers there that night as well as correct advice on the best ways to proceed.
You gave no direction at all. You all hid behind what you thought was “fiscal conservatism” and “careful planning” but it really showed through as a lack of nerve and a fear of making a mistake instead of courage to take a chance on success. Proper governing takes courage. My suggestion is take that chance. It will reap great benefits.
Regarding the statement made by one of the council members that all library bond measures have been defeated over the last several years. While this is true, I think you should be reminded that we were in very adverse economic times and it also appears that even though the last county measure was defeated, it actually passed in Oakley.
The downtown library will bring additional value, not only as a place of collected knowledge and community services, but also increased home valuation and tax proceeds from additional business revenues from both current and future retail sites built around the new downtown.
Allow Oakley to grow. I urge you to show vision and leadership and take serious action now to endorse the Friends of the Oakley Library and the downtown library project before costs further rise and deadlines are missed. Wise investing in our community is the correct thing to do.