By Valerie Shelton
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors gave its seal of approval to plans for a new library in Clovis at a June 2 meeting.
The new library will be part of the city’s North Civic Center, to be located at Third Street and Clovis Avenue. The property, which was acquired by the city in December, was previously used as a lumber yard.
Clovis City Manager Robert Woolley said the old lumber yard will be torn down by the end of the month. At that point, the city will move forward with plans for the first phase of the new civic center—a transit hub.
The goal, Woolley said, is for construction on the transit hub to start by the end of the year. The transit hub is the top priority because the city received a $2 million grant for the project and those funds must be used within the next two years.
The third piece that will make up the North Civic Center will be a new senior center. Funding for that center has yet to be secured.
Fresno County has agreed to contribute between $8 and $10 million to the library portion of the center. The Friends of the Fresno County Library, a non-profit organization, is also likely to chip in additional funds needed to complete construction of the new facility.
Woolley said a new library is a much-needed fixture in the growing city of Clovis. The current library, he said, is just over 8,000 square feet. For a population of 100,000 people, this is not large enough he said.
“A population our size actually needs two 30,000 square foot libraries, but we know we won’t get two so we’re going to design one and it will at least be three times bigger than the library we currently have,” Woolley said.
As for the old library, Woolley said the city hopes to purchase the building from the county so the space can be used for city staff offices. The City Hall building, Woolley said, is too small to house all the offices and many are currently in temporary portables located behind the library.
Woolley also hopes to get creative with the old senior center building. That building, he said, will be sold and funds from the sale will go toward construction of the new senior center. It’s his thought that the San Joaquin College of Law may want to purchase the old building and convert it into a law library—something the college needs in order to earn accreditation.
“The current senior center is undersized at 12,000 square feet as the population is growing and more and more seniors are using the center,” Woolley said. “It’s bursting at the seams.”
Not only will the new senior center give the older citizens of Clovis more space for their activities, but it will also have state-of-the-art community rooms that can be rented out for special events. This, Woolley said, is another great need in Clovis as the community rooms at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District have been fully booked the last year.
The senior center is estimated to cost between $6 and $7 million. Woolley said the city does not plan on going to the taxpayers for these funds, but plans to get the center build with what is made from the sale of the old center plus fundraising dollars and donations.
The transit hub, Woolley said, will connect all the pieces together. Right now, he said there is no place where all the city’s buses eminent from and this transit center will give all the routes a centralized point. It’s a great spot, he said, because seniors can hop on the system as well as students that travel from the library to Clovis Community College, the law school or the new medical school. The trail is also nearby, he said, making everything accessible to the downtown area.
“I envision an economic boom for the downtown with this easy access,” Woolley said. “It will bring residents into our downtown and routes will expand to the college and then east toward Loma Vista.”
The North Civic Center project has been in the works for two years and Woolley said he refers to it as “his pipe dream.”
“There is a pipe yard right next door to the site, so I call it my pipe dream,” Woolley said. “It’s my dream to get this built.”