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Glendale Adult Center meeting

On Thursday, February 12, 2015 the last of the city presentations to citizen boards and commissions was held regarding the proposal to sell and relocate Foothills Library. The presentation was before the citizen Arts Commission and was held at the Adult Center. Since it was not held in the heart of Foothills library territory one would think no one would show. That was not the case. There was a healthy citizen representation and it demonstrated that this is an issue that is city-wide and not confined to north Glendale. The presentation was like the two that had preceded it. There was ample time for citizen comment and the comments again, were similar to those offered the previous times:

  • Incompatibility of library and recreational activities
  • Concern about diminishment of the book collection and
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    We love our libraries!!

    inadequate space at FRAC

  • Questions about the adequacy of parking spaces, especially in the summer
  • Concern about the library as a babysitting location when children have finished recreating
  • Comments on the low ball appraisals of the library
  • Comments on the loss of special interest classes and activities offered by library and FRAC

Rodeane Widom is the former Director of Library Services for Glendale. She sent a letter voicing her concerns to senior management and the Library Advisory Commission:

“As a former Glendale Library Director and as a Glendale resident, I want to discuss concerns I have about the potential sale of Foothills Library.  I served the city for 27 years and oversaw the construction of both Main Library and Foothills Library. 

After listening to Mr. Strunk’s presentation at City Council Workshop regarding the library’s sale, I was startled by the appraised amount of the building, site, and art.   I decided to check the library’s expenditures on the city website’s “Follow Your Money” ( http://wwwglendaleaz.com/followyourmoney/) to find information about the appraisal.

I discovered that Mr. Strunk authorized the use of $4,999 for “Library Appraisal Report” from the Library Book Fund on 8/18/14.  The Library Book Fund includes all profits from the sale of books donated by library users.  I believe that Mr. Strunk broke an unwritten contract with the public by using this money to pay for an appraisal of the library building for possible sale.  Mr. Strunk chose to fund this appraisal with donation profits for a purpose so very opposite of what donors would have wished—the sale of the city’s newest library! I consider this shocking behavior on the part of the Library’s Executive Director.  He should be well aware of the source and intended purpose of the Library Book Fund money— enhancement of the library, not vastly diminished services.

Mr. Strunk gave a workshop presentation that I consider a blatant sales pitch stressing benefits of selling Foothills Library while omitting the many downsides to the library and FRAC.  His written City Council agenda sheet was entitled “Potential Relocation of the Foothills Branch Library and Expansion of Library Services.”   The “expansion” he discussed should more aptly be called “reduction of library services” which I believe will result from the sale.

I have lost any confidence in Mr. Strunk as the library’s highest executive.  To make my distrust even stronger, I noted that the appraisal report cost $4,999. The city web page dealing with purchasing states, “The City Council approved modifications, which make doing business with Glendale as simple and straightforward as possible. The formal limit for bids and proposals was raised to $50,000. The small purchase level was raised to $5,000.” Mr. Strunk’s appearance is of a city employee using a technicality in order to personally select the appraiser, which I feel questions the validity of the appraisal. 

This also puts in doubt other cost estimates provided by Mr. Strunk—such as the estimate for renovation of FRAC to accommodate library use. Thank you for your consideration of my concerns.  If you have any questions about this, please feel free to call me at home or on my cell phone.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sincerely,                                                                                  Rodeane Widom                                                                           CC: Library Advisory Board

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Foothills Library Meeting

If you are a glutton for punishment and really, really have nothing better to do here are the links (courtesy of the Glendale Daily Planet) to the videos of the Wednesday, February 11, 2015 meeting at Foothills library (warning: it is 3 hours long), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXsazZSakZI&feature=youtu.be  and the Thursday, February 12, 2015 meeting at the Adult Center, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mopHcIxLkic&feature=youtu.be  .

What happens now? Each of the three citizen commissions typically meet once a month. Their February meetings consisted of the presentation on Foothills library. At their March meetings they will have an opportunity to discuss the library proposal and come up with their commission’s recommendation for city council.

You have an opportunity to express your opinion on the proposal to each commission member. I would advise you to keep the pressure up by expressing your opinion to every relevant commissioner. This can be accomplished by sending an email to Erik Strunk and copying all three commissions: strunk@glendaleaz.com  and at the end of your email please Cc: members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, members of the Library Advisory Board and members of the Arts Commission. It will be his responsibility to make sure each commissioner receives a copy of your email per your Cc.

After the three commissions have made their recommendations to the city council, I would expect the proposal to become a city council agenda item for a workshop or regular meeting. I will monitor city council agendas and publicly post when it is scheduled before the city council.

I want to congratulate every one who took the time to attend one of the three presentations or all three, for that matter; those who spoke publicly at a meeting; and those who sent emails to the mayor and council. It is so gratifying to see Glendale citizens participate in their local government. It’s not over yet…not until the city council rejects this proposal. Please stay informed and participate in the process.

Sadly, I wish that this same caliber of citizen activism occurred on many more Glendale issues. Many of the policy decisions made by your city council result in a profound effect on your lives, such as the temporary sales tax increase becoming permanent. All too often, our concern about a vital issue only becomes visible after the decision has been made. At that point it is often too late and the proverbial horse is already out of the barn.

Local government is the governmental entity that dictates your individual quality of life within Glendale. All too often, citizens fail to realize that even a little noise on an issue can direct its outcome. And so the Library War continues…

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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