New Library Update

At our February 21, 2023 meeting, the El Cerrito City Council directed staff to proceed with plans to possibly build a new public library at the Transit Oriented Development planed at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. This is great progress!

And this could mean great things for our city and residents.

One of the good things about libraries, and why they are so important, is that everyone can build their own personal relationship with them. I have mine:

  • Starting with my mom taking me to the children’s library in Richmond every Wednesday — I followed that tradition on Saturdays with my two daughters…and then went to Caspers for a hot dog
  • Library routines were created and lasted through high school, college and professional life
  • And, I am excited to say that we may be closer to allowing our residents to build another relationship of their own with a new, safe, full service library and resource center within our city limits

It has taken us several years and several hurdles to get to this good place. But by no means is it a done deal…there is work to do — and that’s why it is logical to move forward with further plan, poll and review financial options ahead.

Our last major effort to get a library identified issues concerning the lack of a venue and high cost projections.

After losing a close ballot measure in 2016, the city manager at that time asked me to arrange a meeting with Grace Crunican, the BART General Manager about the possibility of BART supporting a library at its future planned Plaza TOD project. She was enthusiastic then, and the present BART GM, Bob Powers, was very supportive and optimistic when the present City Manager and I met with him in January. Working with our city, the feasibility of a library at the BART station became part of a mutual goal for the Plaza development.

But It is OUR responsibility to finance this much needed library. And it is still our responsibility to get our financial house in order, so our residents and voters will agree that it is time to take up this goal in earnest. I am optimistic. A new library can be part of a new bustling city center and open space in Downtown El Cerrito.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Things are lining up…with a supportive Council, a supportive BART Board, supportive and hardworking library and city staff and the constant push and support from our residents, Plaza neighbors and library stakeholders — like the Library Foundation and Friends of the Library we have moved forward.

So let’s keep moving forward, let’s get our community more involved about what our needs may be — and build a new library that we can be proud of — so each of us can begin to build our own unique and important relationship with a new center of life and events in our city.

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