Today is a big day for Atascadero’s library and the entire community.
It marks what could be the first positive steps in moving the library away from its less-than-satisfactory location on Morro Road and putting it back downtown.
At the heart of all this is a grand-looking, two-story building in the Hotel Park center on Capistrano Avenue that, since its completion about four years ago, has stood unfinished on the inside and unoccupied. Except for the lobby, the building is a shell just waiting for the right tenant.
It appears the perfect one has been found.
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As Friends of the Atascadero Library, county library personnel and Atascadero officials began dealing with how to expand the Atascadero branch of the county library several years ago, it became more obvious that this grand building would make a perfect library facility. There’s room for a new and bigger library and some extra office space on the second floor. Frankly, it just looks like a building made for a municipal library.
It is a stone’s throw from the historic City Administration Building. It is just across the new Atascadero Creek Bridge from Atascadero Junior High School and, for at least the next three years, close to the multicity transit stop. It is also right across the street from the present City Hall and Colony Square.
The present library, which is about 7,000 square feet, was considered too small almost as soon as the day it opened on Morro Road.
In addition, there has always been concern about traffic along that portion of Highway 41 for library patrons, many of whom are children. Another concern has been that motorists used the library parking lot as a shortcut between Morro Road and Atascadero Avenue, often at unsafe speeds.
As library supporters increased their fundraising efforts about two years ago, the building in Hotel Park (next to Bank of America) began to look more and more feasible. This site, by the way, is part of where E.G. Lewis’ 1915 Tent City was erected.
Hopefully, today the Board of Supervisors will take action setting up the first steps in purchasing the building. Tonight, the Atascadero City Council can complete the deal by putting up some funds previously set aside for the expansion of the library.
The action by the council will all but seal the deal to make this purchase happen.
Many supporters of the library expansion project and those on the fundraising committee have anxiously waited for today’s double action.It is a perfect use of a building that now stands unfinished, just waiting for someone to come in and do the interior. Money won’t be wasted in redoing or making over some other structure.
It is as if the builder, in this case Glen Lewis and friends, built a large professional building and then sat back and waited for just the right tenant, which has obviously been found.
Reach Lon Allan 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.