BRENTWOOD -- From crowded story times to packed computer stations, the Brentwood Library has clearly outgrown its existing space and city officials took preliminary steps toward a partial expansion of the popular branch this week.
"Every time I go in there, it looks like peak hours," Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor said at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
The proposed expansion would add 4,100 square feet of extra space to the interim facility at 104 Oak St. The project would entail expanding into former city offices next door that were vacated when the new City Hall opened last year.
"More space in the library is needed for the community," said Contra Costa County Librarian Barbara Flynn, who noted that the new space would expand the children's programs and provide more study and meeting areas.
Currently, the peak usage times for the library are after school and during story times that are held five times per week, according to Community Library Manager Liz Fuller.
The current construction estimate is $1.8 million, but city leaders plan to obtain more accurate cost estimates as a design team examines the project thoroughly over the next six to 10 months. The city has about $3.5 million for the second phase of the library relocation project, which started when the original Brentwood Library was relocated from the former City Park to make way for the new Civic Center.
Councilman Bob Brockman said that the partial expansion is a logical choice compared with a full expansion with an estimated $4.1 million price tag. He added that another expansion could still be completed in the future.
"It is unfortunate that it costs so much to build this space," Brockman said of the preliminary $350- per-square foot construction cost estimate. "That is a good step in the right direction."
Councilman Erick Stonebarger expressed concern about the gap between the current operating costs for the library at $234,000 and the estimated operating costs for the expanded library, which is $300,000 to $380,000. In a time where the city is striving for fiscal sustainability, Stonebarger said he is concerned about an additional $150,000 annually in library-related costs that will impact the city's general fund and police services.
"This is not an easy decision because any time you give away something, you take away from another," he said.
Brentwood Friends of the Library member JoElyn Rose said that the library is a valuable resource and haven for many residents. In addition to needing more space for programming and services, she said that the library needs an adequate place for its book sales that raise money for services and equipment.
"Please consider the present and future needs of the library by making the expansion as large as possible," she said.
Brentwood Vice Mayor Steve Barr also expressed concerns about the ongoing costs. The City Council will review the expansion proposal again next summer before moving forward with construction.
"I support the expansion of the library as promised during the building of the Civic Center and the relocation," Barr said.
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174.