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Mitchell Park Library set to open in the fall

Original post made on May 2, 2014

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.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 2, 2014, 1:21 PM

Comments (62)

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on May 2, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Quote: "the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center will undoubtedly be a community jewel"

... humm, maybe more like a ugly rock.

Posted by Jim, a resident of Midtown
on May 2, 2014 at 7:53 pm

"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."

Look up her profile on LinkedIn. She claims to have project construction expertise. Gimme a break! She is just a cheerleader. We had a serious library director in the past, and she got fired, because she wanted to consolidate our system. Now we get this mush.

When will it end?

Posted by JS, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Kudos to Terry from Midtown.....MP Library is a hodge-podge clash of materials masquerading as "design".

Blame for the train wreck needs to be shared with the City for orchestrating the design- construction process utilized and the City's expert Construction Manager (Turner Construction) who has been paid $2,500,000 to assist the City! Just exactly what was the $2.5 Mil for if not to prevent the mess that occurred???

Posted by Ben, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 2, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I will be very happy to see the Mitchell Park Library reopen, finally, after needlessly wallowing for years in construction purgatory caused by the city of Palo Alto and Flintco.

Posted by Uh Huh, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 2, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Last we heard from the Weekly was that if the contractor was fired and a new one hired the Library would open in the summer. Now it's the fall. This is project is an incredible debacle and City employees should be losing their jobs over this disaster of a project. There is no excuse for how far behind this project was allowed to fall. Funny how the Downtown Library completed on time... And, is the Main (now Rinconada) Library on track?

This poor performance would never be tolerated in north Palo Alto - only in South Palo Alto would a major project be allowed to languish years behind schedule.

Shame on you, City of Palo Alto.

Posted by Wonderin?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

> Shame on you, City of Palo Alto.

You do mean City Manager James Keene and his hand-picked minions, don't you?

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm

My 12th grade student is graduating this year and never had a chance to hang out there. He could have been using Mitchell Park Library since freshman year if the city had not screwed it all up.

Posted by charlie, a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I would hope the city manager could show up and make a speech at the opening ceremony..

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

Who cares? I am sure our city leaders, the people who,led us to drink the bond Kool aid and FOPAL will all be there to congratulate themselves.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on May 3, 2014 at 5:00 am

That far south, may as well go to the Mt View library

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2014 at 7:48 am

This really has been a big eye sore for the City and community. What a disappointment and mismanagement by the City Manager's office.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

So how many times has it been announced that the Mitchell Park Library would open in 6 months? When it opens, I'll believe it.

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2014 at 11:31 am

A mausoleum to dead trees.

Posted by My Take, a resident of Southgate
on May 3, 2014 at 11:46 am

This is unacceptable. South Palo Alto once again got the shaft. Not only have we been deprived of a decent library for years, but we have been fleeced. The new library, if it ever opens, is hideous, just like many of the recent builds in south Palo Alto. I agree that those responsible should be fired, and I certainly will be voting against anyone who signed off on the continued deliberate uglification of this part of town.

Posted by Self imposed shaft, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

My Take: In part I think the ridiculous size of the branch is a response to the perceived deprivation of south Palo Alto. The poor-me talk is unwarranted. You have the biggest park but you are not satisfied.
The Mitchell Park branch could have been enlarged and updated at a fraction of the cost. It needed some work, but I used it all the time. Locals used it for childcare, that was part of the problem. Instead of building a childcare/afterschool center they said we need a big library.
One of the top fund raisers for the new library was quoted in the paper saying she was embarrassed to show her visiting friends the branch.
With that kind of nouveau riche sensibility, no wonder we are getting an ostentatious oversized mess.

Posted by My Take, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 3, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Self imposed, I have no problem with the size of the project. I take issue with the fact that we still have no library, and that the thing they have built is hideous. Nor was my comment about park space. Incidentally, if you want to compare parks, Foothill park is North of Page mill, so you're wrong on that also. When a community puts up the funds for a library, those whom we have entrusted with supervising its completion are obligated to ensure that it is finished within a reasonable budget and schedule. As anyone who cares about their town will admit, it should also be functional, and not be aggressively hideous. Because this project has not delivered on any of these fronts, it is a failure on the part of those we elected and hired.

Posted by JS, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Is anyone watching the El Camino Park underground water tank boondoggle project? The project is way late also. They closed down the soccer field years ago - so they could use the area to stockpile dirt from the water tank portion of the project ( which they didn't need to do). The dirt was removed from the soccer field a year ago, but absolutely NO work has been initiated to restore the soccer field or the softball field!

More great work from the Construction Management division of the City of Palo Alto.

Note also that no one from the City ever talks about the project. They say nothing in order to keep it out of the spotlight.

Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 6:45 am

I'm hoping they can hurry up and finish the construction, so that we can get started on the next, remodeling phase-- putting some kind of facade over that ugly blue warehouse material facing Middlefield.

Honestly, I've been very supportive of bond measures over the years, but I'm embarrassed to say that I voted for this one. I'm just wishing now that they complete it before books become completely obsolete.

Posted by BL, a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

BL is a registered user.

Flintco should of quit early and save their reputation. That would of put more blame and pressure on the City clowns. Since Flintco got fired, that makes it look like they were too incompetent and the City can take credit for fixing the problem (Flintco).

Posted by aj, a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2014 at 7:52 am

I think the library looks beautiful. I love the vertical wall of plants growing in the front. The bottom line for me is that we are blessed to live in a city with such a wonderful library system. I do agree it has been a long wait but don't you find that good things in life are often worth the wait?

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 9:17 am

> The bottom line for me is that we are blessed to
> live in a city with such a wonderful library system

It is no blessing to be a resident of the Silicon Valley—creating a new future every day where people are not dependent on government largess and wealth redistribution powers in order to avoid buying their own books, and increasingly—videos.

There are now more books on-line, than in any one single library that generally accessible to the public. Yet—we still have people in this town, who seem to gravitate to a government-owned facility rather than demonstrate the independence that being an American offers.

It's difficult to have any respect for people who refuse to buy books—claiming that that is someone else's responsibility!

The availability of e-books, and other Cloud-based information should be liberating. Yet, we have a goodly number of people in this town that would rather live on the government library plantation that investigate the wide-wide-world via the Net.

Got to wonder if these people will ever wake up?

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yippee! Time for a raise for all involved for such a fine job. Let's throw in some health and retirement benefits for good measure.

Posted by Self imposed shft, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

Way to go Wondering!
Get rid of libraries and also those red lights cluttering the intersections. Stop that foolish garbage collection, I can compost my own. And I have solar powered lights, get rid of those useless electricity people in the city.
Cops cost too much money, I can buy a gun and defend myself! And those firefighters in their fancy uniforms --I've got a hose, who needs them?
Best of all, we can have Tea Party every weekend in the town center.

Posted by BP, no not that BP, a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Don't count on that opening date. A certain city official commented in the Daily Post regarding the tentative opening date "We have to tell them something". The "Them" in this case, the taxpayers (us0.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I've used public libraries in Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto over the years. Never saw one that wasn't busy. They provide a multitude of programs/ways to use and appreciate books....and are a vital place for neighbors (students, book clubs, singles, seniors, etc.) to get together and meet.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Much of the infrastructure and park system north of "Oregon AVENUE was built before WWII and just after and during the early Korean War era.. Remember too that, acc. to Palo Alto written history detailed in a Palo Alto Weekly publication, most of the area south of OREGON Avenue had to be annexed to Palo Alto about 1950!! It was orchards and farms. The area north of Oregon and east of Newell was a truck garden!! until 1949. So all of this 'poor me' - "Poor picked on us" commentary is in bad taste and exhibits a total lack of knowledge of Palo Alto's history. Big parks e.g. Greer and Foothill are south of Oregon Expressway. Countless new parks were built south of Oregon Expressway after 1950's as were virtually all of the new schools....and a library. So before anyone comments on how deprived is "South Palo Alto", the commenters should read and stop fomenting resentment. There have been a lot of city council members from south of the "Expressway" . The Oregon Expressway has proven to be the economic lifeline to the Stanford Industrial Park (and don't think the Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard weren't into this process up to their eyeballs. ) So let's unite as a city- and stop the naysayers from stirring up uneducated trouble. "Quit yer bitchin". We are ONE city.

Posted by My Take, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 4, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Kate, once again, Foothill is on the North side of Page Mill. History has nothing to do with the ugliness, nor the incompleteness of the alleged Mitchell Park Library, nor the debacle that was built on Alma, nor the useful but ugly JCC, nor the fight that had to be waged over Maybell in order to stop yet another blow to South Palo Alto. These things have taken place. Your waving them off with platitudes does nothing to improve the situation. If you truly thought that we were all one, you would be outraged as well. Yes it is also your town if you live in Palo Alto. So why are you willing to let these eyesores continue to be built in it? When I hear North Palo Alto voices join in this effort, I'll agree.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Let me express my confidence in the promise that the MP library reopens in the fall:If that happens, I will streak throughout the entire Palo Alto library system in broad daylight.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2014 at 7:12 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Great Art and Architecture are in the eye of the beholder.

OK, the building was not my idea of style, but I did participate in the meeting at MPCC where we were asked to vote on the choice of color combinations. Where were you?

The current project: Get it OPEN
(I just hope the Green Roof does not leak )

Posted by Wait and see, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

I am personally going to wait and see.

Yes, it has been frustrating that this project has taken so long.

Yes, it does look a little odd from the outside.

I cannot wait, however, for it to open. The true test is how the building itself will function and whether is a place that makes you want to stay for awhile - it is way too early to judge this.

I will say that the same architects did an incredible job transforming the cubberley mp room into a really pleasant little library space that is getting an incredible amount of use, despite the small size, minimal signage and few actual books - validating the concept of having more, smaller libraries that are close to people rather than one big library.

Yes, Flintco was terrible and the city in hindsight should have demanded a simpler building design but it is not the cities fault that prop 13 meant that we stopped public building decades ago so they were a little out of practice.

Let's be a little patient and wait until it opens to make final call. At this point, while I think there are some things to be done differently, there was a need for a new library there and even with all the nonsense, it was a good move to get to get to work during a time nothing else in the economy was happening.

I don't regret one vote for a second - my only regret is that we should all have stayed just as involved after the vote as before.

Posted by Member, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 5, 2014 at 10:36 am

Too long to get done and ugly but what do you expect with our city management . Over paid and under worked, they would like to send it all out to consulting

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Downtown North
on May 5, 2014 at 10:54 am

Forget about the library opening. . .must be a joke! I'll continue buying books on Amazon!!!

Posted by Paul Simon, a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

It is amazed how easy it is to be a City Manager of Palo Alto. For such a gigantic waste of city resources and false promises over and again, all he needs to do is to blame the contractor, without the need to take any responsibility, not even any reflection on how this blunder can happen, and how to avoid the mistake in the future.

We need 2 actions. Since this mistake is too moronically unbelieveable.

[1] Investigate city staff who neglect their duties and the flow of money, to find if there's any corruption.

[2] Change the law the city does its job. Decision power comes with responsibilities.

Posted by Barron Park dad, a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

Let's face it, the Mitchell Park library _and_ the Alma Plaza development which Miki's used to be are truly ugly buildings. 9 out of 10 people would agree. But it's too late now for those two.

Instead, let's focus on what is on the drawing board TODAY that may become uggo's in 2-3-4 years. And let's prevent that from happening. Who has final say on architecture anyway? Does the Architecture Review Board have any voice? Are there people on it that have some aesthetic training?

Posted by Audit needed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2014 at 11:16 am

Where's the audit of Public Works and its oversight of construction management? We've had multiple (deserved) audits of utilities, but an audit of Public Works is long overdue. It makes sense to put more money into infrastructure spending once we make sure that the current spending is managed effectively.

Posted by muttiallen, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

It already leaks. Did anyone else notice the sheets of plastic taped to the walls and windows on the Middlefield side? Or did I just see it because I sit at Mayview waiting for the light to change? After all the rains 2 weeks ago the black plastic and red tape suddenly appeared along the windows where the 1st and 2nd stories meet. Only water getting to the inside would force such a 'repair.'

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

1) The fall of what year?

2) What did all the delays and lawsuits cost?

3) When is the Main Library opening?

4) On what basis does the City EVER expect us to approve another bond issue?

Posted by Voted No, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

Why did anyone vote yes on this? It was a totally unreasonable proposition even before it became a botched boondoggle. I personally voted no on the bond measure.

They could have retrofitted and renovated the original buildings, maybe with some addition. It would have been the better thing to do, probably less expensive, greener for sure. And we would not have ended up with such an eyesore. They let the paint peel for effect and it worked. People decided it was a tear-down because of peeling paint.

People here seem to think we always need to tear everything down and start from scratch. Wasteful and unnecessary.

Posted by Concerned Resident, a resident of Green Acres
on May 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Darn, Silly took the words out of my mouth. November of what year!

Posted by Jerry Mouton, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Yeah! And Paris was SOOO foolish to build that devilish Eiffel Tower. As I predicted and so many did, it ruined Paris for good!

In Atherton, the comedy comes in the Police Report; in Palo Alto, it's the random Comment page. And look how people are so brave as to use their real name!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

"Mitchell Park Library project delayed by a year" -- Web Link

According to this PA Online article, we'd see the library completed in May 2013.

Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm

"Voted No" - you can't keep putting band aids on a building like the old MP library and think that is ok. That building was a dump way beyond the peeling paint. Talk to the people who worked there 40+ hours a week - termintes, faulty electrical, leaks, etc. A community should put money into infrastructure and rebuilding as populations and circumstances change.
Only someone anti library or who visited the old building to pick up books and leave would say that facility was worth saving.
And for those saying do away with libraries, I'll buy my books or read the really old free stuff online, I've got nothing to say except your "me only" attitudes are showing.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

What a hideous structure. The Architectural Review Board needs to be replaced with competent architects that have good taste. We are stuck with a bunch of flunky architects on the Board. Sadly, most of the architects on the ARB still have a couple of years left on the Board. Plenty of time to continue the Uglification of Palo Alto.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
22 hours ago

"Let me express my confidence in the promise that the MP library reopens in the fall:If that happens, I will streak throughout the entire Palo Alto library system in broad daylight"

haha, that is a gem! You win the prize.

The city's defenders have hutzpah (spelling? -- chutzpah?) to try to defend city staff on this project...too much wrong over too long a period of time, too much publicly known EXCEPT who has been held responsible. It amounts to incompetence. And yes, city staff are very well-compensated and have excellent benefits. Try to help inform your neighbors so the next bond measures can have scrutiny before voters blindly hand over so much taxpayer dollars...

Posted by Sylvia Gartner, a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I just lost 15 minutes of my life I'll never get back reading the nasty, carping comments on this thread.

Mitchell Park Library is MY branch. I have, of course, been disappointed by the performance of Flintco, but I have no problem with the design of the building. I like it! I am fascinated by the choice of tile veneers and the vegetation growing on the sides.

I will be delighted when the new branch opens and residents of Midtown and other South Palo Alto neighborhoods will have a wonderful new library to visit.

And, Jerry Mouton, thanks for your great Eiffel Tower comment and for calling out all the cranks who don't use their real names.

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm

> Mitchell Park Library is MY branch.

Said with the same tone of voice as if this lady were talking about her church! Got to wonder if she doesn't see the public library in the same way that a well mind-wiped penitent might?

> I have, of course, been disappointed by the performance of Flintco,

Flintco was only half the problem. Even at this late date, it's clear that there are far too many people in this town that prefer Palo Alto Kool-Aid to clear thinking, and common sense.

Got to wonder what good a public library does these sorts of people?

Posted by wait for it, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2014 at 7:51 am

According to this

Web Link

The original date was Summer 2012. The bond passed in 2008

I hope the resulting building works for some purpose, but I'm sorry by any reasonable metric this project is a fiasco.
I hope we learn something from it, but I have my doubts.

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

Well, you've got to give the city some credit. This big construction project might finish up before the time it takes the city to study the traffic light pattern near Paly and Town & Country on Embarcadero.

What's 8 years -- and counting -- for the time needed to change the traffic light timing. I asked and they're just starting to look for consultants.


Posted by Jim Holsworth, a resident of Community Center
on May 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

For the folks that say libraries are obsolete, Robert Dawson's book Public Library discusses the value of shared community resources, ie the value of libraries beyond pure books and videos.

I think the Mitchell Park library is beautiful. Not everyone likes the same architectural styles.

Finally, I'd like to hear more ideas on this thread about holding city workers accountable for what will be an almost 3 year delay on an important public resource. It really is not acceptable at all.

Posted by south PA Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I voted for the library. I like the design. The Flintco debacle is unfortunate, and I wish staff had been more on top of that, but that's water over the dam now. It sounds like it also had something to do with requirements to choose the lowest bidder. This bad policy imposed on cities needs to change.

I'm looking forward to using the new library, and I still believe the project was and is necessary.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Everything is OK! The ugly, meaningless sculpture that is now required on every new Palo Alto project has been installed already!

Posted by David v, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

When the "IMAGINE" banner was hung on the Middlefield front-facing I had to pull over I was laughing so hard at the irony. Imagine this ever opening!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I see that at last there is some progress.

But are we really going to have Ikea blue finish at the back and a gaudy yellow finish at the front? Are the banners really part of the finish?

If a child built something that looked like this with building blocks we would smile and say, very nice. I can't believe (or imagine) that this is it!

Someone tell me that this is a joke, right?

Posted by Sylvia Gartner, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 7:38 pm

@Resident (still another anonymous one) who compared the library with children's building blocks, I refer you to Jim Holsworth's comment: "Not everyone likes the same architectural styles." Maybe the architectural critics on this thread can post copies of their degrees in architecture before weighing in.

Posted by Anciana, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I agree that often people do not agree on the design/architecture of a public building, but I have to say that I am firmly lined up with those who think that the new MP Library is double ugly! Very industrial looking. However, since it was the only library in Palo Alto which had a reasonably good collection of literature in Spanish, I am really looking forward to using it again.

To the person who accused those who borrow books rather than buying them of basically being government moochers, I just have to say that yes, now that I can afford to buy books, I do buy them, because I'm told that the library employees frown on my practice of underlining and writing in the margins of paper books. Also, as I do not have endless shelf space in my house, I am grateful for ability to use books for which I have no space in my home. But there were many years when I could not afford to buy books, so I will always be grateful for public libraries and I was happy to vote for the bond. I'm just sorry that there have been so many conflicts and delays with getting the library open.

Posted by OldAlum, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Folks, you are anxious for the opening. Just wait and see what it does to the traffic on Middlefield at that crossstrreet. Sigh.

Posted by Sickened, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:11 pm

This has all been disgusting waste of time and mega-bucks. Libraries are unneeded now for anything other than free internet. The city does not need a big costly building for that.

Posted by Jon B, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

SteveU- you hit it on the nail. There were dozens of advertised public meetings for all of the library projects, not mention drawings that were published in all the local papers. How many of the people now complaining about the look of Mitchell ever bothered to show up, or send an email? Apply for the Architectural Review Board if you're such experts

Posted by homeowner, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

The city manager and leadership in the planning department should resign. This project had taken longer than the building of Freedom Towers in NY!

As a business owner I am absolutely appalled at their project management skills. What a waste of tax payers money.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2014 at 11:44 am

The Mitchell park monstrosity replaced two structures, the library and the community center. Both buildings needed a new HVAC system and roof. Why FOPAL and the City Manager decided to merge these two which were open at different hours is beyond me.

Once all these new library edifices open, how about buying content for them? These days I just search the Mt. View, Los Altos and SF catalogs because except for extremely popular items, the Palo Alto library system just doesn't have a copy.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

A shame that my son is now a freshman in college and throughout most of his years, there was no Palo Alto library for him. Nice decision to renovate the Main Library the same time as the Mitchell Park library.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2014 at 9:11 pm

There's now a sizable homeless group in Mitchell Park, maybe moved over from Cubberley. Presumably, they'll hang out at the new library.

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