People signed their names on an orange “Save Our Library” t-shirt, now a memento. Mayor Jamie Matthews cheerfully helped hang a giant sign announcing the Northside Library’s future opening. Martha Hull, library foundation board member, promoted a time capsule project. Northside Library advocates Roger and Estela Ramirez and others gave walking tours of the 17,355 square foot library. Magician Phil Ackerly entertained the children. It was a party, and there was plenty of cake.
At the end of March, the City Council voted to allocate $5 million from its Land Sale Reserve to allow the Northside Library to finish construction. City Manager Julio Fuentes announced that the California State Controller and Attorney General acknowledged that the $11.7 million bond proceeds the city used to build the library had been appropriately used. This means construction on the 99 percent complete library can continue. The Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends hosted a celebration at the library on April 6 to recognize this victory. Over 600 people came.
“The Northside community has been fighting for their library since 2008,” says Maria Daane, executive director of SCCLFF. “This is an opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate their latest victory on their long road towards getting a new library.”
“The current City Council and prior City Councils have consistently been supportive of building this library for the Northside community,” Daane continues. “Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski was incredibly helpful. He worked behind the scenes with elected officials and staff from the state, county, and city to get this resolved.”
“I represent Santa Clara, and I’m glad to see people happy,” says Wieckowski, who made an appearance at the celebration. “There are a lot of agencies involved in the unwinding of the redevelopment process. I talked to the agencies involved, such as the Department of Finance. Another agency involved is the Controller’s Office, run by John Chiang. My task was to convey information and arguments to the Controller’s Office and reach an agreement. It’s a coincidence that I’m a bankruptcy attorney so I’m good at unwinding things.”
Braxton Chang, 4, nibbled on a hot dog and fries from one of the nearby food trucks.
“Today I saw the children’s room [during the library tour],” Chang says. “[When the library opens], I’m going to look at some books.”
Anika Bose, 9, reveals she felt mad when she found out last summer that the library might not open. When asked how she felt today, Bose smiled and gave a thumbs up.
“Since I love reading and I want to do my homework in a calm area, I’d be doing my homework here, reading here, and checking out books here,” Bose says.
“The library is a cornerstone of education, and I want to say thanks to all the volunteers who have worked very hard for this, especially [library foundation board member] Kathy Watanabe,” Peter Kuo says. “We live within walking distance from the library. I have three kids who will be coming here to study.”
“[Rita Bose] and I used to belong to a book club, but it’s been on hiatus, and we started a kids book club that’s also on hiatus,” Judy Chen says. “Maybe when the library opens, we can restart the kids book club and have the meetings in one of those rooms in the new library, like the community room.”
“We’re pushing for a summer opening date,” says Alan Kurotori, assistant city manager. “We’re hiring right now and are recruiting for a new branch librarian and staff.”