CdM ‘Fibrary’ Construction Wrapping Up

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The Corona del Mar library branch and fire station project is nearing completion and is anticipated to open in about two months.
— Photo by Annika Helmuth

Construction on the Corona del Mar “fibrary,” the library and fire station combination project, is wrapping up and officials hope to open its doors in about two months.

Newport Beach city staff presented an update on the project to the Board of Library Trustees during their meeting Monday.

The fibrary is a completely rebuilt and modernized library alongside what will become the new fire station #5 on Marigold Avenue.

Library Services Director Tim Hetherton said the project is coming along nicely.

“Crews are moving along and work is progressing,” Hetherton wrote in the report.

Light fixtures were installed on May 16 and the first coat of paint is already on all the library walls.

Flooring is expected to be installed next week. Cabinet installation is also anticipated by the end of the month.

The official move-in date is still pending as construction wraps up over the next several weeks. It will hopefully be the first week of July, “fingers crossed,” Hetherton noted in an email on Wednesday. A public grand opening event is planned for July 20.

“Furniture delivery and move-in date are pending but library staff remains busy working on finalizing supply needs as well as planning move-in logistics,” he wrote in the report.

The actual process of moving in (furniture, supplies, technology) will probably take about a week, Hetherton explained in an email.

All the books and materials are brand new and will be shipped directly to the branch. The opening day collection is a generous donation from the Friends of the Library and a Newport Beach Public Library Foundation gift funded by CdM resident Karen Carlson, Hetherton explained.

The collection will include about 7,000 books, DVDs, and audiobooks.

The inside of the new CdM Library branch.
— Photo by Annika Helmuth

There are also plans to install the “Seagulls in Flight” sculpture in front of the building very soon, Hetherton wrote.

The “Seagulls in Flight” sculpture was commissioned by the Friends of the Library in memory of Molly McClintock, a local teen and Newport Harbor High School graduate who was killed in a car accident in 1960. After years of wear and tear by the weather and other factors, the City Arts Commission voted in 2015 to restore the sculpture at a cost of $4,450. It is temporarily in storage during construction.

The fire station side of the project is also coming along great, Hetherton added.

Monday’s presentation was only an update, so the board offered no direction and there was no vote or action.

Trustees commented that they were pleased with the facility and the project’s progress, Hetherton said.

Construction, contingencies, and related costs (including the initial conceptual planning, studies and bid work before the project was put on hold several years ago) are estimated to be $8.82 million for the library and fire station combo.

In 2014, both buildings were identified for replacement. Conceptual plans for a combined project were presented to the public, Library Board of Trustees, and City Council in 2015. But when bids were submitted in late 2016, they were higher than anticipated and staff recommended rejection.

In early 2017, the project was on hold (possibly for a suggested five to seven years), primarily due to budget concerns.

At the time, then-City Manager Dave Kiff was concerned about the cost, especially considering the city’s other debts, particularly the unfunded liability. By early 2018, seeing the Council take a strong approach to the pension issue which put the city on better footing to pay it down faster, Kiff felt comfortable recommending the project.

Council members unanimously agreed to move forward with the on-again, off-again project in March 2018.

The project broke ground last April.

Since the CdM branch, a popular destination for locals since the 1940s, has closed, most of its services have been made available elsewhere, including at the central library branch and OASIS Senior Center.

A grand opening ceremony is planned for July 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the new Corona del Mar Library and Fire Station.

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