At the Newport Beach City Council meeting on January 9 – the first one with newly-appointed mayor Will O’Neill – there were only two items on the current business calendar, and both concerned the proposed Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall.
The first was a vote for Approval of Third Amendment to the Memorandum of understanding with the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation; and Adoption of Resolution No. 2024-3: Dissolving the Newport Beach Library Lecture Hall Design Committee.
The second was the Lecture Hall Award of Contract, which involved increasing appropriations by $10,487,936 to fully fund the Library Lecture Hall Project and to award a contract to AMG & Associates, Inc. for the total bid price of $19,068,000 and authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the contract contingent upon the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation depositing $7,100,000 in advanced contribution funds into the specified project escrow account.
Project Background by City Staff
At the November 14, 2023 City Council study session, the Council, staff and representatives of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation discussed the recent bid opening for a new Lecture Hall (LH) building. After much discussion and review, the City Council directed staff to bring a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation (NBPLF) back to the Council for its review.
At the November 28, 2023 City Council Meeting, the City Council established the Library Lecture Hall MOU City Council Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of Councilmembers Noah Blom and Lauren Kleiman, to negotiate revised terms of a Third Amendment to the MOU (Third Amendment) with the NBPLF for the funding and use of the new LH building. The City Council Ad Hoc Committee met with NBPLF representatives and the revised MOU is ready for the full Council’s consideration.
The significant changes to the existing MOU proposed in this Third Amendment include an update to Total Project Cost: the new project cost is $23.5 million.
Dozens of emails were received by the City both in favor and against the proposed Lecture Hall. During the City Council meeting, community members spoke about the lecture hall, and council members also weighed in with their comments.
After the dust settled, a vote was taken on both agenda items. The motion passed each time 4-3, with councilmembers Blom, Avery, Grant and Weigand voting yes, and Mayor O’Neill, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Stapleton and councilmember Kleiman voting no.