Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, announced Oct. 12 to Elk Grove City Council that he had secured $3 million in state funding for the new Elk Grove Library. .
The new library will be located in a 17,000 square foot building that previously housed a Rite Aid Pharmacy on the southwest corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road in Old Town.
This project will replace the existing 13,000 square foot Elk Grove Library at the southeast corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Elk Grove-Florin Road. This facility opened in 2008.
Cooper’s announcement came during his own recognition by the council, in which he received a proclamation from the city for his long-time service which also includes his time on the Elk Grove City Council. He is currently the elected Sacramento County Sheriff.
Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen recognized Cooper’s longtime dedication to Elk Grove.
“It is a great honor for us to recognize you, as we know how hard you work for our city – not only here as a member of council, but as a member of the assembly and now as a sheriff,” she said.
Cooper’s announcement of state funding for the library came as a surprise.
“Before you come down (to present the proclamation), I have something for you; I come to bring gifts,” he said.
Cooper briefly left the boardroom podium, then returned with an oversized check bearing the words: Elk Grove Library, three million dollars.
“We have $3 million for you to help grow this library,” he said. “Libraries are important, reading is important. Obviously, we are here because of teachers and educators. And the mayor (Singh-Allen), you served on the school board, so you know how important that is.
“And think about this fact: In the (main Sacramento County) jail, there are about 2,500 inmates downtown, and most of them are reading at the third-grade level. So education is important.
Cooper then spoke with the Citizen about the need for a larger library.
“A new library and a bigger library are needed,” he said. “Obviously being bigger you can serve more of the community.
“(The current library is) very well located, but every time I went there, the library was always crowded, due to high usage. People use it for a variety of resources, and it really needed a new home. And the city was a good steward and found a new home, and the $3 million ($3 million) will help pay for that, and that’s really what it was all about.
Recalling the efforts to secure the $3 million in public funds, Cooper noted that it was an “arduous process.”
“I was competing with 120 other members (who were trying) to get resources for their communities,” he said. “It’s not an easy process. It’s a difficult process, but my capital staff, my budget staff have been instrumental in making it happen. So it was really a team effort. You never do anything alone.
Cooper expressed his excitement about the $3 million he secured for the library.
“I’m thrilled for Elk Grove, for the Elk Grove City Council, the (Sacramento Public) Library Authority and, most importantly, the citizens of Elk Grove,” he said. “They get a modern, state-of-the-art library that is much bigger.”
He added that he hopes the new library will also accommodate new growth.
Approval for the purchase of the old pharmacy building for the new library was given by unanimous decision of the city council in January 2021.
Following negotiations by city staff, the city paid just over $3 million for the old pharmacy building. This cost was paid for by issuing tax-exempt bonds and capital charges, which are development fees the city charges on new construction. The property was sold by Thomas A. Gaebe, a trustee of the Joyce Traynor Revocable Trust.
A city representative talks about the library opening plan and costs
Christopher Jordan, the city’s director of strategic planning and innovation, told the Citizen last week that the new library in Elk Grove is currently on track to open in 2025.
At a public rally hosted by the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Public Library (SPL) in October 2021, SPL Deputy Director Jarrid Keller said the target date for opening the library was September 2023.
Jordan noted that there really isn’t a delay in opening the library.
“No, I think we’ve been pretty flexible on the timeline, because it’s about getting (funding),” he said.
The current construction cost to complete the library project is about $13 million, Jordan added.
“We don’t have all the funds in place for the project,” he said. “We are looking for some grants. Cooper’s work on the state budget is one of them. So Cooper did a great job of negotiating through the legislature for the state’s final year budget, and (he) was able to get $3 million.
Jordan mentioned that the city has requested a state grant for the rehabilitation and relocation of libraries throughout California.
“Our goal is to cover at least half, if not the majority of funds, between these two grant programs, and then the balance of funds would come from local sources,” he said.
Jordan described the construction project as a “complete space rehab”.
“(The project is to) completely empty it of the old Rite Aid,” he said. “It’s pretty empty at this point, but there’s still the old flooring and some internal operations. (It’s) really building this thing as a new, modern library for the Elk Grove community.
Among the novelties of the building are a new entrance, an adult space, a teen space, spaces for young people and young readers, several meeting rooms and an incubator space for working with equipment and technology.
The library will also include the “market”, which is the main collection area of the library, and a meeting room that will allow existing library programs to continue.
With parking availability being an ongoing issue at the existing Elk Grove Library, the new library will increase the number of parking spaces from approximately 40 spaces to approximately 90 spaces.
Another improvement of the new library will be the lack of a second floor, Jordan noted.
“Being on a single floor (as opposed to the current two-floor library) dramatically improves library operations,” he said. “You don’t have to regularly carry materials and equipment up the elevator or up the stairs.
“There’s more study room space than we can accommodate, a larger space for kids, a more formal teen space, and (a) larger meeting room, and with the most square footage in square feet, a larger collection can be there. All in all, this will be a great setup once it’s complete.