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Rehabbing Alameda’s Carnegie Library May Cost More Than Alameda Can Afford

By Erica Madison

In light of the confusion on the direction of the Civic Center, City Planning Manager Andrew Thomas presented City Council with three options for rehabbing the Carnegie building on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009.

Option A:

  • The cheapest plan of the three. Thomas proposes spending $1.8 million to rehab the main for assembly level occupancy. This floor could be used for offices, museums, and galleries. The two other floors of the Carnegie building could be used for offices only. The basement would be used for storage.

Option B:

  • The most restrictive option. Elevators and restrooms would be built in the back of the building near the children’s library. This will allow for full handicap access, and provides for offices on the second and third floor, as well as the basement. However two large areas on both sides of the building would not be available for public gatherings such as art galleries.

Option C:

  • The most expensive option. This plan calls for a budget of over four million dollars. However Andrew Thomas said this was the option that he recommends. For option C, larger additions would be built in the rear of the Carnegie library. This would allow elevators to be installed on all three floors. An added benefit is that the addition would allow the library to have a second means of exiting the building.

“It  looks like a great plan, but the Carnegie building may lay dormant for the next three years”, said Vice Mayor  Doug deHaan.

Unfortunately, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said  Alameda doesn’t have enough money to treat this as a standalone project.

“We’ll need to mix this along with other parcels.” Said City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.

This means it will be a while before the city ever generates any revenue from the rehabbing of the building.

All three sound like good plans so which one should City Council vote on?

“We don’t have an answer,” said Thomas.

Until the council can decide on the focus of the Civic Center, such as how it will connect with Park Street, Thomas can’t provide suggestions.

It’s back to the drawing board (literally).

Thomas ended his report by asking Council for three more months, to come up with a vision for the Civic Center, which will include detailed drawings of the plan.

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