On Tuesday, the Oakley City Council will look to enter a cooperative agreement with Contra Costa County for the demolition of the former Contra Costa County Sheriff Office Delta Substation.
The substation, located at 210 O’Hara Avenue, has been vacant since September of 2019 and has been the victim of both vandalism and trespassing while requiring regular cleanups of the site.
The County will reimburse the City 50% of the demolition costs estimated at $400,000, minus the costs associated with keeping the existing wireless communication tower operational which is estimated to be upwards of $50,000.
However, in the event that the library funding cannot be secured before June 30, 2024, the City would be responsible for the full amount of the demolition. The City could be responsible for costs up to $400,000; however, that number will likely be between $200,000 to $250,000.
To date, $200,000 has been budgeted per the Staff Report.
The agreement includes the following key terms:
Demolition of the Building on the Property
The 4,220 square foot building is nearly 100 years old and in a dilapidated condition. The size and state of the structure are not conducive for a library or other public use, leaving demolition as the most judicious option.
Cost-sharing of Demolition Costs up to $200,000
The current estimate of demolition costs is $400,000. Upon completion of the demolition, the County would reimburse the City 50%, minus the costs associated with keeping the existing wireless communication tower operational which is estimated to be upwards of $50,000.
Transfer of the Property from Contra Costa County to the City
The County will transfer ownership of the property to the City upon the City or community partner securing capital and operational funds for the library prior to July 30, Approved and Forwarded to the City Council 2024. The Contra Costa County Library provides each city with 40 base hours of staffing leaving the City with minimal operating costs. These additional operating costs would be limited to building upkeep and library hours above 40 hours a week.
The proposed agreement was executed by the County Board of Supervisors on September 7, 2021, and gives the City until July 30, 2024, to identify funding. If funding is not secured by the term date, the property will revert to the County. City Staff intends to explore every possibility to meet the timeline given that the library is part of the City’s Strategic Plan and there is a great need in the community for a robust library.
The California Reading Coalition produced a report indicating that only 27% of socio-economically disadvantaged Hispanic/Latino (Latinx) third-grade students in Oakley Union Elementary are at a proficient reading level . The California Department of Education also reports that 43% of the Oakley Union Elementary student population, or over 2,100 students, are eligible for free or reduced-price meals; or have parents/guardians who did not receive a high school diploma 1. These numbers suggest that many students and their families are experiencing challenges and may benefit from additional programs and services.
The City’s current library is situated inside Freedom High School. This 3000-square-foot space adjacent to the high school’s library was meant to be a temporary location pending a standalone site. This arrangement presents many challenges given its space limitations. Contra Costa County library staff do a tremendous job offering various programs and services such as virtual Dungeons and Dragons, Virtual Teen Advisory Group, and passive programs like take ‘n’ make crafts. However, programming and community accessibility are limited due to the following:
Limited open hours: 40 hours/week due to lack of space for staff
- No study rooms
- No space for large events
- Limited number of computers (8 desktops and 12 laptops)
- No quiet study spaces
- Extremely limited seating
- Very limited space for early literacy educational toys
- Inadequate parking
- No handicap parking space & limited handicap accessibility
- School vehicle traffic
The space poses other barriers including lack of public transportation, sharing restrooms with students, and individuals being uncertain about being allowed onto a high school campus. Additionally, the Library staff has recognized the following challenges – (1) the facility doesn’t have a water fountain or water bottle fill station for patrons or staff (2) there is no true break room on the library side; staff has to use the teachers’ lounge on the other side of A building to get water and rinse out cups and dishes (3) volunteers do not have access to a sink to use for Library programs and has to use the restroom sinks to clean up which is troublesome and can be messy,
Collectively, these reasons may be responsible for the low library cardholder rates in Oakley compared to similar-sized cities in Contra Costa County. Currently, 8,538 Oakley residents have a library card compared to Martinez residents (16,912), San Pablo (16,940), and Pleasant Hill (11,571). Furthermore, the senior citizen usage is 75% lower at the Oakley branch when compared to libraries of similar size. Library data also shows that 6% of Brentwood Library’s checkouts come from Oakley residents. Additional usage statistics and comparisons can be found in the agenda packet attachment “Contra Costa County Library Partnerships”.
If inadequacies in the space are addressed, many of the aforementioned barriers and accessibility concerns would be eliminated. Additionally, the following programming could be offered to community members:
- Kindergarten Countdown
- Sensory Storytime
- Bilingual Storytime
- Maker Space
- STEAM Programs
- Craft/Art Activities
- Project Second Chance tutoring
- Computer instruction
- Any type of group instruction or assistance
- Community posting board
- ESL Conversation Group
- Friends of the Oakley Library book sale
- Book clubs
City Staff will work closely with the community to design a Library project that meets the needs of current and future residents. With that said, the City is committed to incorporating best practices from modern libraries. Features include co-location of community services (employment services, caseworkers, etc.), study rooms, meeting and event spaces, a bookstore, and a café. These features would serve youth, teens, adults, and special populations including veterans, seniors, and those who may be struggling financially.
The execution of the agreement would be the first step in pursuing the creation of a standalone City-owned community library. Site control and a shovel-ready project are critical to pursuing capital funding for a community library through earmarks, public- private partnerships, grants, and other means.
If the cooperative agreement is approved by the City Council, staff will pursue various funding strategies to bring back to the City Council for deliberation. City Staff will also work with the Friends of the Oakley Library and the County Library Foundation to consider fundraising strategies.
Consistency with the Oakley Strategic Plan 27+
The execution of this agreement is consistent with the Community and Economic goal of Strategic and Thoughtful Growth, specifically the third objective. Objective 3.5 tasks the City with revitalizing and drawing people downtown to live, work, and play through considering relocating the co-hosted City/High School Library to a downtown location that can be a unifying location for Seniors, Youth, Veterans, and a possible satellite location for County services.
The County will reimburse the City 50% of the demolition costs estimated at $400,000, minus the costs associated with keeping the existing wireless communication tower operational which is estimated to be upwards of $50,000. In the event that the library funding cannot be secured before June 30, 2024, the City would be responsible for the full amount of the demolition. The City could be responsible for costs up to $400,000; however, that number will likely be between $200,000 to $250,000. To date, $200,000 has been budgeted.
Staff recommends that the City Council approve and authorize the City Manager to execute a cooperative agreement with Contra Costa County for the demolition of the former County Sheriff’s Office delta substation located at 210 O’Hara Avenue.
Staff Report: Click here