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Construction is expected to start in mid-2021 and be completed about a year later on the $20 million El Centro Public Library to be located at the southwest corner of Frontage Road and Villa Avenue, according to information presented by Abraham Campos, city Public Works Department director, during the El City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19. | SCREEN GRAB

$20M Library Project Construction to Begin in June

EL CENTRO — Construction is projected to start in June for the city of El Centro’s $20 million public library project and be completed about a year later, according to the latest update the City Council received during its Tuesday, Jan. 19, meeting.

Though the start of construction is several months away, much of the project’s overall preliminary work has been completed, prompting excitement among city officials.

“We’re past the hump and it’s downhill at this point,” said Abraham Campos, Public Works Department director.

During the meeting, the council voiced its support for the city’s timeline of pending actions related to the project, which is being funded by the proceeds of Measure P, the half-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2016. However, the council did not take any formal vote related to the project.

The timeline directs city staff to release on Thursday, Jan. 21, the request for pre-qualification application that contractors will be required to submit in order to be eligible to bid on the construction contract.

The pre-qualification application requests information regarding a contractor’s finances, experience building similar projects, references, and staffing, to name just some inquiries.

“We do that to weed out contractors that have no business building a city library,” Campos told the council.

The planned 20,000-square-foot library will include conference rooms, designated areas for children, teens and adults, a small art gallery, as well as an outdoor patio and reading area, landscaping, and a retention basin.

The library will be built on city-owned property in the northeast corner of the parking lot of the Valley Centerpoint Plaza, where the city’s existing 13,000-square-foot library is located.

City officials had previously considered using Measure P funds to renovate the existing library but decided against it after determining it wasn’t a feasible option because of its required retrofitting.

“If we retrofitted, we would end up with an old building at the end of the day,” Campos said.

The city recently finalized its request for proposals for the project’s construction management contract and it is currently out to bid, he said.

The construction contract is expected to go out to bid in March, with the lowest responsive bidder being awarded the contract in April, according to the city’s tentative timeline for the project.

Following Campos’ presentation, several council members expressed excitement about the project’s progress.

“This is exactly why we were so fortunate to have the residents of El Centro vote on Measure P,” said council member Edgard Garcia, who added that he was expecting the new library would further help spur development in the area.

Library commission member Victor Zazueta said the inclusion of a small space to display local artwork, which he had initially recommended, is an especially welcome development.

“I think the ability to display local artists is really essential,” said Zazueta, who was appearing virtually.

An update about the status of the Measure P funding account as well as a planned bond sale were also provided by city Finance Director Richard Romero and Eric Scriven, a principal at NHA Advisors, which will administer the pending bond sale.

From April 1, 2017, to June 30, the city received a total of about $17 million in Measure P sales tax proceeds and closed the end of the last fiscal year with $11 million in its Measure P account, Scriven said. By June 30, the end of fiscal 2021, the city is expected to collect $5.7 million more in sales tax proceeds, he added.

Both Scriven and Romero offered assurances that the city should not have any problem over the next two years raising $56 million through bond sales to cover the expenses associated with the library as well as the $36 million earmarked for the El Centro Police Department’s new station.

During the Jan. 19 meeting it was also disclosed during a presentation by community member Lisa Winkler that Catholic Charities has been awarded funds to establish a day center at its Orange Avenue offices to assist individuals experiencing homelessness.

The planned day center will provide wraparound servicers for its clients and have a kitchen and laundry.

“They’re really taking a look at a comprehensive approach to truly helping homeless individuals,” City Council member Martha Cardenas-Singh said.

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