Reedley Library to start new chapter

Fresno County public works department presents Board of Supervisors with plans for new facility for Reedley Library

(Darren Fraser)
(Darren Fraser)
Darren Fraser
Published May 8, 2024  • 
10:00 am

FRESNO COUNTY – In their latest convening, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors received an engaging update from the Department of Public Works and Planning on seven key projects shaping up across the county, and among the standouts were the plans for a new library in Reedley.

The current Reedley Library operates out of a leased building, but the new facility will be county-owned, situated on what is now an empty lot behind Marten Chevrolet at 1813 11th Street. It is expected to cost about $13 million and is currently in the request for qualification (RFQ) stage, meaning the county is seeking and reviewing the qualifications of potential contractors or firms for the project.

William M. Kettler is the division manager for developmental services and capital projects for public works. Kettler presented the board with the item at the supervisors’ May 7 meeting, saying construction on the project is expected to begin in spring 2025 and be completed by summer 2026.

According to his report, the library will be one story and cover nearly 14,000 square feet. The parking lot will accommodate 33 vehicles. According to schematics provided by the county, the library will be divided into four sections – a children’s area with learning stations, the main collections area, a teen area and a meeting room. There will be a group study area, a computer area and a work area.

Kettler said the primary materials that will be used in construction are durable – concrete, wood, fatigue metal. “They’ll withstand the weather,” he said.

The discussion then turned to the new Regional Library coming to Clovis, which Board Chairman Nathan Magsig felt was long overdue. Magsig, who served as mayor of Clovis, said the city has been waiting 20 years for a new library. Talk of the new facility preceded his tenure as mayor and continued during his time on the council. Now, he said, he wanted action.

“I want groundbreaking this year,” he said. “Twenty years is too long.”

Like Reedley, Clovis is in the RFQ stage. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2025 and be finished by fall 2026. The estimated cost is $24 million.

“I want to see you do it,” Magsig told Steven White, who is the director of the Department of Public Works and Planning.

DESIGN-BID-BUILD VS. DESIGN-BUILD

Kettler walked the Board through a presentation that provided them a quick primer on the differences, disadvantages and benefits of the two processes the county uses when bidding on projects. He also provided updates on seven of 30 county capital projects currently in the planning stage or under development.

Historically, said Kettler, the county has used the traditional “design-bid-build” process. Under this system, the owner – the county – works with a designer and contractor. These, in turn, work with subcontractors. The design-bid-build works best with projects that are publicly funded and that require a bidding process with the result the lowest bidder is often awarded the contract. Design-bid-build accords well with simpler projects; that is, projects that do not rely on the expertise of subcontractors. Lastly, this process makes it easier to maintain a longer project timeline.

Kettler said the county used the relatively new design-build system for the Clovis and Reedley library projects.

As for “design-build,” he said this is advantageous when a project is complex and requires collaboration among the architects, the construction crew and the subcontractors. Design-build is suited to projects that are – and must stay – on a tight deadline and strict schedule. Lastly, this process caters to strictly budgeted projects. The design-build entity – the company awarded the bid – has greater autonomy on the project. It is also responsible for oversights and cost run-ons.

Another capital project, the West Annex Jail project, was discussed. 

Kettler said the project is ahead of schedule. The project was slated to be completed in the summer but may be completed by the end of May. The estimated cost of the project is $100 million.

“It’s 99% complete. It’s late,” he said. He added, “There were challenges on multiple fronts.”

Despite this, Supervisor Brian Pacheco expressed his discontent with the project and he pointed to the state fire marshal over the delays.

“For those that may not know, the state fire marshal held up the project,” Pacheo said. “They have no one they answer to. They can do what they want, when they want, and have seriously delayed our project.”

When asked by Supervisor Buddy Mendes how much the state fire marshal cost the county in delays, White answered, “We’re playing nice right now, but probably in the hundreds of thousands.”

Pacheco then asked White if his department had enough staff to keep all the capital projects moving forward, to which White responded “yes.”

CONSTANT DANCE OF INFORMATION

The Board approved an amendment that will add another staff analyst to the department of the County Clerk/Registrar of Voters. The amendment increases the fiscal year 2023-24 appropriations and estimated revenues for the department by nearly $26,000.

According to James A. Kus, department head for the County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, this individual will be responsible for cleaning up the county’s voter registration rolls, and went on to describe the county’s registration database as a moving target.

“In the last 120 days, there have been over 58,000 changes in information,” Kus said. He added, “It’s a constant dance of information coming in and out.”

Kus said the addition of this analyst was necessary to ensure that the department retains its focus on its role, which is to help county voters and to keep the voter rolls orderly.

Supervisor Steve Brandau asked Kus if the department would be able to maintain any metrics on how it can track progress on not only cleaning up voter registration rolls, but also maintaining security and integrity.

“Absolutely,” replied Kus. “That is one of the things that will be specific to this role (analyst). We will be able to put out metrics in an orderly fashion every year. We can be more proactive now with this new position.”

Mendes said, “There have been places in the United States that ended up with more voters than they had people. It’s never happened here, but it’s happened in other places.”

During public comments, resident Tammy Richardson noted she was happy the department was adding another analyst but the problem is much bigger than one person.

“Our voter role system is broken,” she said. “Will this new person be checking the citizenship of voters?”

She added, “The only solution is to take back local control and get out of the Voters Choice Act.”

Another speaker echoed Richardson’s concerns.

“I appreciate all the work of Kus and the department,” he said. “But this treats only the symptoms.” 

The resident then said the problem is the vote-by-mail system because there is no signature verification, which he said could create backdoors and vulnerabilities.

Darren Fraser
Reporter