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Clovis Looks Ahead To New Downtown Library Project

UPDATE: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to move forward with the new Clovis library project.

The city of Clovis is known for its rodeo and its western themed downtown. Soon you might be able to add to that one of the largest public libraries in the valley. 

A new library, senior center and transit hub are all part of the plan for 5.7 acres on the fringe of downtown Clovis. Last year the city purchased the site on Third Street, which is currently home to an old lumber company barn for $2.85 million.

Credit City of Clovis
The 5.7 acre site is currently home to the old Clovis Lumber Company barn, which the city expects to tear down by July.

On Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will vote on a land swap that would clear the way for the eventual library development. If approved the city would purchase the existing county library building on Fifth Street, and in exchange would give the county the land necessary to build the new building on the Third Street site.

County Librarian Laurel Prysiazny says the old library is only 8,600 square feet and lacks a meeting room and space for computers.

Prysiazny: "It was built in the 1970's. A community of 100,000 plus, they should have a library of at least 24,000 square feet. If you're familiar with our Woodward Park Regional Library, they should be having a library of that size. They should have had it 10 years ago. So they definitely need a new library."

Clovis Mayor Nathan Magsig says the city has simply outgrown the old library. 

Magsig: "That library is one of the heaviest used libraries in the entire county, and obviously the city of Clovis has grown tremendously since that entire civic center was built in the mid to late 1970's."

The new library would be approximately 30,000 square feet and is expected to feature a meeting room, dedicated spaces for both kids and teens, and even space for an outside vendor to run a small coffee shop. Pryziazny says another key feature is an "idea center" complete with a 3-D printer.

"They should have had it 10 years ago. So they definitely need a new library." - Laurel Prysiazny

Pryziazny: This is where people can come and create their own content. This is becoming a very big trend in libraries today. A lot of it, you might have heard it called maker spaces. If you want to learn how to build a robot we'll have the technology for you."

County officials say the library project will cost around $12 million. They estimate between $8 to $10 million will come from the county's library sales tax, also known Measure B. Pryziazny says contributions from a community fundraising campaign will account for $3 to $4 million of the project cost.

Pryziazny: "Particularly to help out with the interior, furniture, and equipment artwork and things like that. So we're going to be hitting the pavement before too long."

The new Clovis Regional Library is just one element of the overall project. The existing senior center would move from its current home on Fourth Street to a new building near the library site, and the city would also construct a new transit hub at the complex. The old senior center would then become the new home of the San Joaquin College of Law's law library. A grant would help the city fund the transit center.

Magsig says the site, which is also adjacent to the Clovis Memorial District building and the Old Town bike trail is ideally suited for the project.

Magsig: "Clovis always looks for opportunities where we can consolidate services together. And so by having this center, where there's gong to be a tremendous amount of activity, you can have individuals from every corner of the city of Clovis coming to that area to be able to enjoy multiple services."

Demolition of the current buildings on the site, including the former Clovis Lumber Company barn is expected to be complete by July. Construction on the new library isn't expected to begin until at least 2018. The county hopes to move into the new facility by the first few months of 2020.

As for the library building itself, Pryziazny says that while most of the design work is still ahead, the building will likely reference the city's western heritage. 

Pryziazny : "It will be modern certainly, very industrial open beam, but it will have probably have some kind of a western theme, certainly on the outside of the facade at the very minimum and I'm certain that we'll have some western accouterments on the inside too."

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
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