Palo Alto's botched and beleaguered reconstruction of the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center is now set conclude in November, when the city's largest branch will finally open its doors to the public.
On Friday, city officials announced that based on a schedule from newly hired contractor Pacific Builders, LP, the Mitchell Park Library is now set to open to the public in the fall, with staff scheduled to start moving into the building in November. Big D, according to the city's statement, has already hired five replacement subcontractors to complete work that includes plumbing, mechanical, electrical sheetrock, roofing, windows, doors and shades. All work is being paid for by Flintco's surety.
The construction project, which kicked off in 2010 and was initially scheduled to be completed in spring of 2012, is the biggest component of the $76 million bond city voters passed in 2008. The measure also included renovations to the Downtown Library and an expansion of the branch formerly known as the Main Library (recently renamed the Rinconada Library).
While the Downtown Library project concluded within budget and on schedule, Mitchell Library has fallen years behind and has been subject of bitter acrimony between the city and the main contractor, Flintco Pacific. After years of finger-pointing over staffing levels and what City Manager James Keene described as "historically poor performance," the city fired Flintco in January. In March, Big D took over the project. The company had recently worked on the renovation of the Palo Alto Art Center, which was completed on schedule and under budget.
"We are encouraged by the amount of work Big D has corrected already, and everybody is focused on completing the project with quality work and having it open to the public," Assistant Public Works Director Brad Eggleston said in a statement Friday. The company is also scheduled to redo and fix some of the work that had been botched by its predecessor.
Once completed, the new 56,000-square-foot complex will include amenities such as flexible reading rooms, computer rooms, game rooms, a basketball court and Ada's Cafe, which employs people with disabilities. In a statement, Keene said the city finally has "a clear path to finishing the largest capital project built in Palo Alto in decades."
"While it has been a long and challenging process, the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center will undoubtedly be a community jewel that will bring together multi-generations of Palo Altans for many years to come."
Library Director Monique LeConge Ziesenhenne said library staff is "very enthusiastic about the project, and are preparing for the move to what will be a top quality library that meets the needs of the community now and into the future."