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CdM could see library/fire station construction begin in Spring

By AMY SNIDER SENK

CdM Library

Photo by Amy Snider Senk

It might be more expensive than it would have been a year ago when city staff first asked for construction bids, but it’s possible that the Corona del Mar fire station and library project might actually break ground in 2018.

The buildings on Marigold Avenue are about 60 years old, and city staff has been discussing plans to replace them for years. In 2014, staff confirmed they were considering a plan to demolish both buildings at the same time, then rebuild as one combined project, with a library downstairs and room for firefighters on the second floor.

But when the first official plans appeared a year later, locals were unhappy to learn that the library space in the new building would be reduced to 2,500 feet from its current 3,750 feet. A group called Friends of the CdM Library formed, calling for and attending town meetings. The library space grew, along with the project’s price tag, but in the end, the City Council approved the $7.35 million project. Bids went out in November 2016, but city staff found the results too expensive. But before they could re-bid the project, the City Council decided to put it on hold, possibly for five years, because of pension-related budget concerns.

In October, however, the Council had a change of heart and CdM representative Scott Peotter requested new bids be sought. So, city staff currently has opened the project for bids with a February 8 deadline. If all goes well, staff could ask the City Council to award a contract in March with construction beginning in the Spring.

But the construction business is booming, with costs increasing. From the summer of 2016 to the summer of 2017, construction costs for Newport Beach rose 5 to 6 percent, according to Mark Vukojevic, the city’s Public Works director. In the past six months, those costs ramped up even more, he said.

If the bids are out of line, he said, staff might try again. Or, he said, they might try to find money to pay for the increased costs if the bids seem in line with market costs.

“We’ll analyze it and make a recommendation in March,” Vukojevic said. “We’re excited to get this project off the ground.”

When (and if) construction begins, the project should take 18 months to complete, according to Vukojevic. Some library services will be offered at Grant Howald Park’s Community Youth Center, with the Central Library taking up the slack. The fire station will take over part of the OASIS Senior Center’s auxiliary parking lot at Fifth and Marguerite avenues, with firefighters working and sleeping in trailers.

Joy Brenner, founder of the Friends of the CdM Library group, said she worried that expensive bids might give the Council reason to delay the project.

“I think we’re in limbo,” she said. “I’m still hopeful. I have a wait-and-see attitude, but I’m hopeful.”

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Amy Snider Senk has lived in Corona del Mar for 17 years and was publisher of Corona del Mar Today, an online newspaper that ran daily for seven years. Senk, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is involved in the Corona del Mar Residents Association and the Corona del Mar High School PTA. She and her husband have two children.