My hope is that all of the hundreds of Glendale library patrons who fought so hard to save Foothills Library will fight just as hard to demand that the West Branch Library become a reality.

With all of the recent discussion of the possible sale of the Foothills library building it’s a good time to review promises made by the city with regard to the construction of the West Branch Library.

In 1997 the city was considering reneging on its first promise to West Glendale residents by allowing land earmarked for a major regional park in the city’s General Plan document to be rezoned for homes. West Glendale residents were successful in defeating that proposal and insisted the city immediately purchase the land at the northeast corner of Bethany Home Road and 83rd for its promised regional park. The city did so and the land was acquired.

Major city facilities such as the construction of libraries and parks are placed within the city’s Capital Improvement Program or CIP. The first time we see the West Branch library appear in the city’s CIP is Fiscal Year 1998-99 when funds were allocated for Fiscal Year 2001-02 to design the library with construction slated to begin in Fiscal Year 2004. That was 17 years ago. Obviously, none of these scheduled events happened. Instead there was a steady erosion and slippage of dates.

  • From Fiscal Years 1998 to 2000 the scheduled completion of the library was 2004
  • From Fiscal Year 2002 to 2003 the scheduled completion of the library was 2005
  • From Fiscal Years 2003 to 2005 the scheduled completion of the library was 2006
  • From Fiscal Years 2005 to 2008 the scheduled completion of the library was 2009
  • From Fiscal Years 2008 to 2009 the scheduled completion of the library was 2010
  • From Fiscal Years 2009 to 2012 the scheduled completion of the library was 2020
  • From Fiscal Years 2012 to present the library has no funding allocated until after 2024

If the West Branch library had been built as promised, “by 2010 the West Branch Library will serve a population of approximately 50,000 in the western area of Glendale, and it is anticipated that more than 1,000 people per day will utilize the services of this branch” (quote from staff presentation at the September 16, 2008 city council workshop meeting). Nothing demonstrates the need for a West Branch Library today better than this quote.

The rationale for not building the west branch library can be attributed to the adoption by a majority of council mandating that there be enough new revenue in the General Fund to support the annual costs of opening and operating a new CIP facility. This criterion was not used to approve the Foothills library. It was crafted later by the former mayor and her coalition when there arose yet another discussion about approval for construction of the West branch library. In a span of 7 years, from the opening of the Foothills library in 1999 to the opening of the Foothills Recreation & Aquatic Center, north Glendale received over $20 million dollars worth of CIP projects. West Glendale received squat.

The majority of councilmembers that consistently voted in line with the former mayor for any CIP project but the west branch library were Eggleston, Frate, Martinez, Goulet and Knaack (all former councilmembers serving differing terms). In 2006 a majority of council diverted $6 million dollars of west branch library construction funding to assist in the construction funding of the Public Safety Training Facility.

Every time the west branch library was on an agenda the “gang” created a new rationale. Before the effects of the Great Recession stopped all CIP projects, they had pitted building a new courthouse against the west branch library and would have funded that first as a means of further delaying the library.

There was a time, in the early 2000s, when council realized the necessity and value in developing amenities such as a library, recreation center, baseball fields, a fishing lake and dog park in west Glendale that would attract high quality residential and commercial development but that evaporated with the advent of the former mayor whose agenda was to block construction of city amenities in west Glendale.

It’s time…17 years is a long time to wait to have the city make good on its promise…for Glendale residents to bring this issue to the forefront once again. It should be requested that as CIP funding becomes available, the West Branch Library must be considered a priority. West Glendale is “amenity poor” and it’s time that this city council redresses a wrong committed by others many years ago.

Oh, and while you are at it, demand that the city replace the O’Neil Swimming pool at Missouri Avenue and 65th Avenue. The city shut it down several years ago because the cost of repair was prohibitive. It was the only city pool west of 59th Avenue and it served some of the city’s poorest demograhic area.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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