Assemblyman Chris Holden presented the city with a check for $4 million to the city to help repair the Pasadena Public Library at the start of Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Having served on this council I understand first hand how important this library is to the community,” Holden said.
In August, City Manager Steve Mermell told Pasadena Now that after the closure of the library in May, the city moved quickly to request the assistance from Assemblyman Holden.
“Just a month later, on June 29, 2021, the state approved in its budget $4 million to be used to pay for the design and drawings for the seismic upgrades of the Pasadena Central Library,” Mermell said.
City officials were forced to close the library pending a seismic retrofit and restoration in May after a structural assessment revealed that most of the building consists of unreinforced masonry.
The $4 million will be used for the design and drawings to be used on seismic upgrades.
The assessment was conducted in April as part of a $30 million capital improvement project for the Central Library. The project includes building system upgrades and replacements, including the replacement of the roof, piping systems, and mechanical heating and cooling systems. Also included are electrical, seismic and structural upgrades, as well as improvements to the building’s exterior courtyard.
The money was part of a local package that also included $1.6 million for the Pasadena Playhouse, $1 million for a study of the Gold Line extension to the Hollywood-Burbank Airport, and $250,000 for the Altadena Central Library District.
Under a retrofit, the building would be updated to meet seismic building code amendments per a 1993 ordinance that requires masonry buildings to meet specific standards.
In 2003, the City Council approved a plan for the seismic retrofit, historic restoration and infrastructure improvements of City Hall. The retrofit cost $117 million.
The seismic retrofit of that building included the installation of structural base isolators that now allow the building to roll, as opposed to shake, in the wake of earthquake activity.
Mermell said the council has moved quickly since the discovery of the seismic retrofit needs.
“With these initial funds now secured, we will assemble and manage an architectural engineering design team of experts to preserve the historical features of the Central Library building.”
Although the Pasadena Central Library is closed at this time, it is supported by nine neighborhood branch libraries that are open and continue to offer in-person or online access to books and periodicals, collections, language arts, career and personal development programs, computers, and the internet.
The Central Library is one of the three major buildings in the city’s Civic Center District as part of the Bennett Plan. It was dedicated on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, 1927.
The plan, developed by architect Edward Bennett, placed the city’s most important civic institutions — including the library and City Hall — within an area where streets conclude at the buildings: City Hall to the east, the library to the north, and the Civic Center to the south.
The library was closed for a year during the pandemic.
“After a long closure of the Pasadena Public Library facilities due to the pandemic, many looked forward to the reopening of the Central Library,” said Mermell in August. “It was short-lived as we discovered that the building was not safe should there be an earthquake. For the safety of patrons and staff, it was closed, and we immediately started work towards a reopening.”