When the Oakley Library moved to its current location at Freedom High School from its former home, a small lower room at the Contra Costa Sheriff Substation on O'Hara Avenue, it was only to be for five years. That was 13 years ago. Now a group of Oakley residents are hoping to finally find a new place for their library away from the school.
Contra Costa County runs the Oakley facility and is generally responsible for taking care of its upkeep along with all of the other libraries throughout the county system. But, as with many things, the economy has made it hard to plan for future growth throughout the system. Many cities have worked together as a community to find funds to house their own libraries, while leaving the cost of upkeep to the county.
However, most cities don't have the funds any more than the county does, so this group is hoping for a creative solution to come its way.
One idea is to fix up the Sheriff Substation and bring the library back to that location, except this time instead of a small downstairs basement room, the whole building could serve as the library.
"Call it coming home to our former home," volunteer Vanessa Moreno said.
The group has had informal talks with three of the county supervisors asking for a written letter of support in favor of moving the sheriff annex services from Oakley to another location. Since both the sheriff and the library are county-run services, the permission and switch in
"The building is smaller than our current location," Oakley Librarian Jenna Skinner said. "But there is plenty of room for growth on the property."
Although the group has not gotten as far yet to have an architect look at the property or even to confirm if it was ever retrofitted for earthquake safety, the volunteers see the advantages to making changes to an existing building rather than having to purchase land and build from the ground up.
"It may be small, but I like going back to our roots," Skinner said.
Head of the group and Oakley resident Warren Hays said that there are other buildings being considered; however, this property does have a parking area and easy access as it is in the center of town.
Moving to an existing building the county already owns might sound like an easy fix, but the group knows this is just the beginning stage of getting such a project off the ground.
The volunteers realize that even if the county chooses this building, they or the city will still need to come up with a considerable amount of money to make the necessary changes in the building and the process could take years.
The next step is to get the letters from the supervisors, which will allow them to go before the supervisors at a meeting and get permission from them to start the process. They will also need to go before the Oakley City Council. The group is also looking for a local architect who might be willing to donate some of his time to check over the building, draw up some blueprints and make some suggestions.
Those interested in helping out with the project are welcome to come to the group's next meeting at 6 p.m. July 17 at the city building called the White House on Second Street. They would also like to have people write their supervisor and let them know that they are in favor of this idea to help drum up support.