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Library Dream Moves Forward

San Diego City Council has voted to find out what it would actually cost to build a new main library by putting it out to bid.

A site for the new main library was set aside almost a decade ago, but the city hasn’t collected enough money to build it. The last estimate, done four years ago, was $185 million.

San Diego is under pressure to take the next step – the State of California threatened to withdraw its $20 million grant unless the council moved ahead to put the project out to bid.

Councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Sherri Lightner opposed the move, saying the project will only add to the city’s deficit. DeMaio suggested more than $60 million earmarked for the library by the city’s development arm would be put to better use paying off the outstanding debt on the ballpark and the convention center

But supporters, like John Macalister, president of the Friends of San Diego’s Public Library, urged the council to act.

“The empty lot is waiting for the new library,” Macalister said. “Money is available, construction is looking for work. I think it’s time to go out for a bid and let’s see what we can really do.”

A majority of the council voted to find out what construction would really cost by asking for bids. They also asked for efforts to make sure small businesses in San Diego have a chance to bid for the construction work.

Once bids are in early next year, council will still have to decide whether to go ahead.

The dream of a new main library for San Diego has been talked about for more than 30 years.

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