This week's topic: San Diego's $185 million downtown library: Money wasted or money well-spent?-- Ed.
Quient's Punch: Money incredibly well-spent. The City Council's historic approval this past week of the new central library project will improve the entire 35-branch library system, create local jobs and will better the lives of generations of San Diegans.
The central library is the heart of the branch system and is essentially getting a heart transplant with the new facility. This will allow it to provide better resources, more expertise and higher quality reference support to all 35 branches, strengthening the entire system.
The project will break ground later this summer, generating more than 1,000 local jobs and producing over $120 million in local wages.
Finally, the project shows what is possible in this city when the public and private sector come together to improve our community. When completed, it will be the latest San Diego gem for all to enjoy and is exactly the type of project we should be building.
Lund's Punch: Libraries are great. They educate our population, provide for meeting places and distribute ideas and knowledge throughout the community. However, by voting for this new library project, the San Diego City Council has actually decreased the value of our library system.
According to the City Council, $32.5 million of the funds are unaccounted for at this point. The rest of the funding is coming from the City Redevelopment Agency, San Diego Unified and previously raised money.
The city hopes to be able to count on the $32.5 million coming from private donors, but there is no guarantee of that, since charitable giving is down because of the recession. Also, it is important to remember that if the money is not raised, the city will be held responsible.
The City should strengthen our libraries by increasing the hours and funding to existing libraries rather than building a new one.
Quient's Counterpunch: Come on, Andrew. Decrease the value of the library system by turning the central library into a state of the art, 21st century landmark? I hope you didn't have a straight face when you wrote that.
As for the $32.5 million unaccounted for: Half that money has already been raised. Plus, with Mayor Jerrry Sanders (R) and others committing to helping with fundraising, the second half should be easier to secure now that the project is a done deal.
Lund's Counterpunch: Although this new library might directly benefit the San Diego Unified School District, there has been no talk of the project enriching the library system by increasing circulation. As another option, the city could increase resources by putting the project money toward keeping our libraries open longer and buying more books and other resources when we need them, rather than building a whole new facility.
Andrew Lund is the president of the San Diego Young Republicans
Jared Quient is the director of project development at AMSOLAR, a local solar energy company that develops innovative solar solutions for schools. He is also the treasurer of the San Diego County Young Democrats and is on the board of the San Diego League of Conservation Voters.