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After Almost Two Decades, Alameda’s Civic Center Still Lacks Focus

By Erica Madison

Before attempting to turn Alameda’s vacant Carnegie Library into a cash cow, City Planning Manager Andrew Thomas revealed on Tuesday October 20, 2009, that City Council members needed to determine the purpose of the Civic Center first.

According to Thomas, Alameda has been trying to create a vision for Alameda’s Civic Center since 1991.

“It’s not like we haven’t been doing anything; we’ve been busy,” said Planning Manager Andrew Thomas.

The issue stems from a referral put in by the City Council to the City Manager. City Council members requested an analysis on the cost of rehabbing Carnegie Library, and renting the building out to government or non-profit agencies.

After six months, the City Manager in concert with the Planning Board, presented a report on their findings.

Unfortunately, City Manager Ann Marie Gallant told the council their request for tenants was difficult. The difficulty stems in part from the Alameda’s lack of funding for the rehab. All funding will have to be recouped from future tenants.

“Although people find the building beautiful, it was difficult for people to accept the rent rate required to fund the rehab,” said Gallant.

Gallant told the Councilmembers, that their inability to obtain tenants is due in part from the lack of vision for the Civic Center.

“We need to look at the Civic Center in a new light” said Gallant.

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