Mitchell Park Library project nears finish line

City's largest branch receives certificate of occupancy

Palo Alto's tortuous path toward rebuilding its largest library hit a significant milestone last week when the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center received its official certificate of occupancy, the last step in the permitting process for the beleaguered project.

More than two years behind schedule, the library project has been a source of much disagreement and acrimony between city officials and the main contractor, Flintco Pacific. The city fired Flintco in January and hired Big D Pacific Builders to finish the job.

Now, it looks like the job is almost complete. Staff has already begun moving into the new facility and the city last month hosted public tours of the new two-building complex on Middlefield Road. The official grand opening celebration is scheduled for Dec. 6.

The re-opening of the Mitchell Park library is scheduled to be followed a month later by the re-opening of the city's second largest branch: the Rinconada Library. Long known as the Main Library, the renovated Newell Road building is set to open in January after being closed since summer 2013. It will include a new program room, study rooms and a teen center, along with upgraded electrical and mechanical systems, according to the city's announcement.

The new Mitchell Park library, meanwhile, includes a large children's room, teen room, computer training room, 100-person program room and quiet reading areas. The adjoining community center includes an event room with a kitchen that can accommodate 300 guests, as well as classrooms, game room, basketball half-court and public cafe

More information about the Mitchell Park Library's grand opening is available on the City of Palo Alto website.

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2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2014 at 7:01 pm

It's not over yet. It's going to take a few years to settle all the lawsuits.

2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2014 at 7:57 pm

What are the planned hours of operation? 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.? Any evenings? Seven days a week?
Library? Community Center? Gameroom? Kitchen? Basketball court? Cafe? Restrooms?
Holiday closings?
Are the personnel available?
There will probably be many bugs to work out, but I'm optimistic no show-stoppers.

2 people like this
Posted by Hope but Verify
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I'd be more optimistic if it hadn't been for the Diamond article noting the new Main parking lot is already full even though the new library hasn't even opened.

The nearby Mitchell Park Dog Park /Soccer field lots are also full to bursting after school.

The temporary old Main Library lot is also full and the new Library isn't even open, just the tiny temporary library and the art center.

And of course the Downtown Library never has parking.

So it goes.

Like this comment
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:28 am

Very good progress report!

Thanks for all the teams that are working hard to get there.

One less headache for city to be concerned about.

We do need some successes!


Like this comment
Posted by Library patron
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

I have a question

I am on a wait list for a book. If there are no fines until January, does that mean I have zero chance of getting my book this year?


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:14 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

I love the Palo Alto Libraries and am a frequent user. I find it interesting, however, that in an age where stacks of books are becoming rapidly obsolete, that Palo Alto would spend so much capital on library buildings. I presume that the smart people behind the library construction are factoring in multiple uses for these expensive buildings, but in an age of iPads and Kindles, it is a matter of time before most books are read electronically. Some may disagree, but I think in 10 years most library buildings will have minimal book collections, and be used more as community centers rather than traditional libraries.

2 people like this
Posted by rhody
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:18 am

What gets me down is that they probably built a beautiful landscaped approach to the library which means even from Handicapped Parking it is quite a walk for a handicapped walker. I wish they could understand that 'closest parking spaces' are not close at all if the building has a large set-back.

2 people like this
Posted by Be a better patron
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:21 am

Library Patron, is the late fee the only thing that motivates you to return books? If so I think that is sad, that you would keep a book just because there is no fine, and I can see why you would expect others might do the same.
The fact is that, thankfully, most library patrons are more responsible than that.
If you would return the book regardless of a late fee, why would you assume others wouldn't? I think we're going to be OK.

1 person likes this
Posted by wishful patron
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

This whole enterprise has been so abysmally managed by the city staff that I have no reason to assume the projected opening will be on time or that once open the ramp to full capacity and operational efficiency won't take months and months. The lack of ability to manage projects is astounding, especially outsourced contracts.

Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

@Library Patron: I placed a hold on a book for which I was number one on the wait list. Two days later I got the email that the book was being held for me at Main (now called Rinconada) so the computer knows that I can't pick up my book at Mitchell Park, my normal library branch

1 person likes this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

Finally!!! I'll be one less car. I still love to read books, and I can walk to the "real" Mitchell Park, but usually drive down to Cubberly.

1 person likes this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Why all the hype?

The Cert. of Occupancy is just one City Department signing off on a project managed by another City Dept.

Come on, Folks.

It ain't no big deal. Isn't there some other news in the valley that's worth reporting on?

Like this comment
Posted by Library Patron
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I never said the library fines were a dissentive to me to return books, but it might be to the people ahead of me in line.

Since we were encouraged to check out up to 100 books and there are no fines until January, added to the fact that to return books we have to head to another part of town rather than somewhere we pass on a daily basis, I can see that many books will be held at homes until such time as Mitchell Park starts accepting books or until the fines date approaches.

I am pleased that someone waiting for a book got their copy so quickly. I hope I get my turn soon too.

Like this comment
Posted by Be a better patron
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I think library users are just as responsible as you consider yourself. You're not necessarily better behaved than the rest of the users, though it seems you think you are. Sorry if I put a wet blanket on your gripe fire, but you're assuming others are going to behave in a lazy manner, but not you, you're better than that. Dismount that tall equine my fellow Palo Altan.

2 people like this
Posted by Competence Please!
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The current Public Works Director is more skilled at politicking with the City Manager and City Council members than managing infrastructure projects. Time for competence instead of politics at the Department head level in the Palo Alto Public Works Department!

Like this comment
Posted by Ada's Cafe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 3:41 pm

It will be so nice when Ada's Cafe finally opens with the new Library. On the tour, the cafe space and planned menu looked amazing! Check out her story: Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Silicon Valley
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

@Library patron: Try neighboring town libraries. The the Mountain View Library is super modern, clean, and right off Shoreline Blvd. Why wait?

I hope the new PA libraries have the checkout/return systems of Mtn. View Library. Books can be placed in a stack and it checks them out, versus scanning books separately. And to return, place each book on a belt and it takes it and checks it into the system.

Like this comment
Posted by midtown library user
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I'm a long time Midown library user. Do you remember the song that begins with the words "At last my dream has come along? I've been waiting so, so long. At last, my dream has come."

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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