Reedley library plan gets county supervisors’ OK

Fresno County supervisors approved a new library Tuesday for Reedley, the third new library they have supported in the past two years, and more are coming.

The new Reedley Library, at 1754 Eighth St., will be more than triple the size of the existing library a block away. The city of Reedley donated 1.4 acres of land for the project.

The library will cost about $6 million, including $4 million from Measure B, the eighth-of-a-cent sales tax measure that continues until 2029 to support Fresno County libraries. The county also could eventually use $5.5 million from a trust fund that named the library system as its beneficiary. The money is not available yet, said Laurel Prysiazny, the county librarian.

About $2 million is expected to come from the Reedley community to pay for furnishings and other items, she said.

“This is very deeply needed in Reedley,” said Supervisor Buddy Mendes, who represents the area. “It’s almost a joke to have a 5,000-square-foot building for a town of 25,000 people as a library.”

Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba said the city requires a library three or four times larger than the existing site.

The building acquired for the project is owned by the city, which was the best way for Reedley and the county to “leverage their partnership” and get the project moving, she said.

“Our students are being tutored in very public open spaces because there are not any private tutoring rooms,” she said “There really isn’t enough room in this library for the book stacks or the tutoring space that needs to be available. … It’s very crammed in there.”

The existing county library is leased and the new property, owned by the city now, will be owned by the county.

Zieba said the land is going to be surrounded by City Hall, the Police Department and the new headquarters for Kings Canyon Unified School District, with access to the city’s trail system.

The Reedley facility is the third new Fresno County library project approved since last year.

A new library is under construction in an old Fresh & Easy store at Shields and Cedar avenues in Fresno and will open in January, said Prysiazny.

A similar community partnership was approved earlier this year in Clovis for a new $12 million, 30,000-square-foot library near downtown Clovis. The community is expected to raise about $4 million.

Prysiazny said her office also is working on a plan to expand the Sunnyside library branch at Kings Canyon Road and Clovis Avenue by adding more leased space.

And, the county library is in the early stages of starting a consolidation plan that would merge two libraries in the Figarden area – at Bullard and Marks avenues and Dakota and Fruit avenues – into one larger facility, she said.

▪ In other action, supervisors got no opposition from Cantua Creek water customers over a new plan for water service.

Earlier this year residents voted to have their water turned off instead of paying higher bills.

In May, the county and state intervened to get state money that would make up the difference between the old bills and new, higher bills for the town’s 79 customers and keep tap water flowing. A state grant will pay $88,212 to make up the difference.

Under the new plan, customers agreed to conserve by using 50 gallons per person per day. Those using more will pay more. In addition, the state Water Resources board and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation will deliver bottled water to residents.

Tap water in Cantua Creek and the neighboring community of El Porvenir – which also will get bottled water – have high levels of substances used to cleanse the water. County officials say the communities’ water is drinkable even though it exceeds maximum contaminant levels for detergents.

Veronica Garibay, co-director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, said both communities want the county and state to move forward with an already proposed project to consolidate the two water systems.

The county got $725,000 from the state to plan and design the new system. Because Cantua Creek and El Porvenir are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, each is eligible for a $3 million grant – a total of $6 million – to build the water project.

Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin