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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

On Monday, February 9, 2015 the city hosted Round 1 of the “library war.” City staff presented its proposal to sell the Foothills Branch Library and relocate it to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC) to the citizen Parks and Recreation Commission.

The meeting took place at FRAC and there were estimates of 150 to 200 people in attendance. There were ordinary citizens standing out in front of the building handing out flyers about the proposed sale.

Mary and Patty, two readers of my blog, kindly shared some observations of the meeting:

  • “Many people who use the FRAC were in attendance and they were not happy campers.”
  • “At a time when the FRAC is trying to beef up their membership, this endeavor would mean cutting many programs and farming out some programs to other locations. People pay a membership to FRAC but will have to go to another location for weightlifting, dancing, table tennis, etc.”
  • “There is a lot of running around and noise generated from the children using the pool during summer hours; a library is supposed to be a quiet place.”
  • “Children should have the experience of reading and handling books.”
  • “From a realtor: ‘this is not a good time to be selling. It’s a buyer’s market’.”
  • One person challenged the picture showing many rows of books in the meeting room we were in. She asked if this had been drawn to scale. Eric Strunk answered, ‘No, it’s just our perception of what the room will look like’.”
  • “The head of the Parks and Recreation Commission asked excellent questions and all members were actively listening and questioning.”
  • “Concerns were also raised about harming the integrity of the programs offered and expected by the Rec center patrons and that the pool table area is actually the only area youth that could not afford to join could freely use.”
  • A man shared how he bought his home because of the proximity of the library.”
  • “Several promises have been made by Midwestern but once a sale is made there is nothing to keep them from selling the dog parks, etc.”
  • Once sold, the Foothills library is not intended to be used as a library but rather as a study area.”
  • It was said by staff that less books were being checked out but a woman who is a library volunteer shared that would be expected since library hours and days have significantly decreased.”

From the comments offered you get the idea. There were a lot of difficult questions for staff with less than satisfactory answers. Staff promised to look into the many questions and to offer complete answers online at the city’s website.

Round 2 of the “library war” is:

  • TONIGHT, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM
  • at the Foothills Branch Library, Coyote Room

The same presentation will be made before the Library Advisory Board with the same opportunity for citizen comments. Seating will probably be at a premium. A word to the wise, come early to guarantee yourself a seat. Let’s outdo the attendance figure of the Monday night meeting. It’s no longer a matter of just saving Foothills library but it also includes preserving the programs and the space needed to conduct them at FRAC as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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I obtained a copy of the original 1997 contract between the City of Glendale and Midwestern University. Nowhere in the document does it say the city must sell the land to Midwestern as a result of Midwestern’s offer to buy.

In 1997 the city used its Capital Improvement Fund to purchase 3.5 acres for $434,508.15 plus closing costs. I suspect the value of the land has probably doubled over the past 18 years with all of the development of the adjacent area. It is offering $5 million for the land and building.The agreement includes the following stipulations:

  • Should the city stop using the building as a library or wishes to sell the land and building Midwestern can exercise its first option within 120 days to buy the property and building at fair market value.
  • The city must build and operate a library on the site and for no other purpose.
  • The exterior landscaping must match that of Midwestern University and Midwestern was granted the right to review and approve/disapprove the design plan.
  • Midwestern has the right to use the library’s meeting rooms and auditorium without charge and will be provided a separate and private entrance.

What is clear is that Midwestern approached the city with an offer to buy the building and the land. This proposal was not a city initiative. The city does not have to sell to Midwestern. It can continue to operate the library on the property as long as it wishes.

Senior staff, for some unfathomable reason, is trying to put lipstick on this pig in order to sell the idea to the city council and the general public.

Since senior staff seems incapable of saying, “Hell no, we won’t go,” it will be up the citizens of Glendale to make clear that this is an idea that’s dead on arrival.

It is also the perfect time to tell the mayor and city council that as city finances improve, your priority to to restore days and hours to the libraries; to restore the cuts made to the city’s recreational programs; and to focus on the promised construction of the West Branch Library to serve over 30% of Glendale’s population that does not have the same convenient access to a Glendale library as do residents of Glendale’s other districts. Make your voices heard. Glendale’s elected officials occasionally need to be reminded that they represent you.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 the Glendale city council had a workshop session. On its agenda were 3 items: sale of the Foothills Library building to Midwestern University and its relocation to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center; consideration of council support of a Certificate of Necessity application with the Arizona Department of Health Services for advanced life support ambulance transport services; and council consideration of moving their staff from classified to “at-will” employment.

Let’s begin with agenda item #1, the Foothills Library. Back in 1997 (I was not on city council at that time) the city purchased land from Midwestern University to build the Foothills Library. I do not have the original purchase contract but it was revealed at the workshop that there were restrictions within the purchase contract. Those restrictions included that the city after purchase, could only use the land for governmental purposes and if the city were to sell the land Midwestern not only has the first right of purchase but it also had final say in who could purchase it, if it was not Midwestern.

Apparently Midwestern came to the city in January of 2014 seeking to buy the building and land. The first point of note is that senior staff knew about this a year ago. Why didn’t they notify council immediately? Instead they moved forward with two appraisals of the property; one in March of 2014 valued at $3.4 million dollars and one in July of 2014 valued at $4.7 million dollars. By the time senior staff informed council it was November of 2014, election season and understandably council gave direction to table the item until a new council was seated in January of 2015.

Midwestern is offering $5 million dollars in cash for the purchase of the library and land. Never mind that it cost the city $7.8 million dollars to open the library doors. What about the artwork? Midwestern’s CEO, Kathleen Goeppinger, is an art collector. Every year when the Glendale Arts Council hosts its art show at Sahuaro Ranch, Goeppinger is invited to privately preview and purchase artwork from the show. One of the pieces of artwork at Foothills is the Dale Chilhuly glass art appraised at $400,000, the “Magic Doors” piece proposed for relocation to Velma Teague Library and a mural appraised at $85,000 and logistically unable to be moved. Midwestern wants the Chilhuly art to be included in the sale. The cost to relocate the Chilhuly to another Glendale building is $85,000 to $100,000 and if the building is sold, Glendale needs to retain this one of a kind piece and it’s relocation should be done from the proceeds of the sale.

There are impacts to the Foothills Aquatic and Recreation Center. The space that would be dedicated to the library hosts special interest classes. These would have to be relocated to another Glendale facility. Senior staff estimated (and it will go higher) that it would cost $900,000 to transform the FRAC space to accommodate the library and that includes proposed technology upgrades. City Manager Brenda Fischer got nervous enough to at one point to throw out the idea of expanding FRAC.

Midwestern mandated that this sale be completed by September 15, 2015. When it realized that city council may not be totally on board and was questioned about it further, they said that the city had until the end of 2015.

This is an idea driven totally by Midwestern University; not the city. The city sells the library, moves a much smaller library into FRAC, and retrofits FRAC or even expands it to accommodate the library. Watch all of the sale proceeds being expended to accomplish this move. Whatever proceeds are left go into the city’s General Fund where it can be used for anything…even the city’s sports related debt.

What can you do? Plenty. You can continue to email the mayor and city council about this proposal at:

There is a specially called meeting of the citizens’ Library Advisory Board tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 at the city’s Main Library at 59th Avenue and Brown. Please note: Since this meeting was not properly posted it has been changes. Please make note of the new day and location. The special meeting of the Library Advisory Board is now scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM at the Foothills Library.There is a public hearing portion of this meeting. The public, you, can speak at this meeting and voice your opinion on this proposal.

There will be a series of district meetings on this proposal. No dates or locations have been announced to date. When they are I will post them on this blog.

You need to stay aware, be informed and express your opinion to the mayor and council. A wave of non-support from the public should kill this proposal. It’s up to you. If you love your library you are going to have to get involved and fight for it.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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