Plans are to move the Elk Grove Library to the former Rite Aid building at the corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road. 

The Elk Grove City Council on Jan. 27 unanimously approved the purchase of a building at the southwest corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road for the new home of the Elk Grove Library.

The building, which previously housed a Rite Aid drugstore, will replace the library’s current location at the southeast corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Elk Grove-Florin Road. That facility opened in 2008.

An opening date for the future Elk Grove Library has not been announced by the city, as of press time.

Through negotiations by the city’s staff, the estimated cost of the building will be $3 million. This cost will be paid for through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds and the Capital Facilities Fee, which is a development fee that the city charges on new construction. The property is being sold by Thomas A. Gaebe, a trustee of the Joyce Traynor Revocable Trust. 

The Elk Grove Library's operations at the existing location will continue until tenant improvements are completed, and the current library building could be either sold or repurposed for other city use.

The Sacramento Public Library system operates the Elk Grove Library that was built by the city.

City Council Member Kevin Spease called the current site of the Elk Grove Library “not a great” location.

“In reality, this is really a substitution for a site that really doesn’t work well for a number of reasons – one of them being parking,” he said.

While the current Elk Grove Branch has experienced ongoing issues with parking availability, with its 45 spaces, the former drugstore building parking lot has 95 spaces.

The future, single-story, 17,340-square-foot library site, at 9260 Elk Grove Blvd., would increase the size of the Elk Grove Branch by 3,555 square feet.

Although the former drugstore building leaves the city 25,000 to 30,000 square feet short of its goal for that branch, Christopher Jordan, the city’s director of strategic planning and innovation, told the council that its site provides room for future expansion, if necessary.

Jordan added that this footage goal could also be met through the addition of a library at the city’s District56 community center on Civic Center Drive.

In 2018, the city conducted the Library and Cultural Arts Center Study, which included considerations for a destination library at District56 and the repurposing of the Sacramento Public Library system’s Franklin Community Library branch.

A city staff report notes that customer feedback pertaining to the location, size and accessibility of the Elk Grove Branch, as well as maintenance costs incurred by the city, has been “less desirable.”

City Council Member Pat Hume referred to the library’s deficiencies and the efforts that occurred to build the current Elk Grove Library more than a decade ago.

“I think (that project) was rushed through for political reasons,” he said. “But anyway, it’s at least been made do to work for as long as it has. However, it has so many issues with both the usability of it, but as well as the parking surrounding it.

“While (the new library site) is not the fix-all panacea, it is definitely a potential for a better, more reusable environment for this branch of the library.”

Hume added that the city is still interested in adding a library, with a performing arts center, to District56.

“We would like to make that happen, but obviously that’s a much bigger bite to take than this, which I think is kind of a stop-gap measure to provide better services in East Elk Grove,” he said.

City Council Member Darren Suen noted that the cost of the District56 library/performing arts center project is “in the $100 million price tag range.”

“Without another source of revenue, I just don’t see when that’s going to be able to come to fruition,” he said. “It going to be a long time, in any case.”

During the Jan. 27 council meeting, SPL Authority Director Rivkah Sass described the new library site as a “better space.”

“We like it, because it’s a big, wide-open space,” she said. “There’s extra square footage to allow for extra programming.”

Rivkah added that a two-story building is a lot more challenging for this library’s operation than a one-story building, and that the new location is the right place for a city approaching 180,000 residents.

“That’s a real city,” she said. “You deserve a real library, and we think that this is it for now. Is it perfect? No, but it’s pretty darn good.”

Paul Lindsay, president of the Friends of the Elk Grove Library, expressed that organization’s support for relocating the library to Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road.

He recognized the future library building’s single-story layout, greater square footage, additional parking and its room for expansion as features that are attractive to the Friends group.

He also noted that the project allows for the city to work in collaboration with the Sacramento Public Library Authority and the community to “bring a 21st century library to Elk Grove.”

Elk Grove resident and 2020 City Council candidate Alejandro Gutierrez-Duncan called into this teleconferenced meeting to share his concern with the removal of the Elk Grove Library from its current area that is close to Markofer Elementary School, Kerr Middle School and Elk Grove High School.

“My concern is with the need of moving our public library,” he said. “It’s near a public school – elementary and middle school. Why would we want to increase an extra mile for our kids to be walking to a library?”

Gutierrez-Duncan stressed that he nonetheless supports increasing the size of the Elk Grove Library.

“I am an advocate for that, but I don’t think we should be moving to a place where kids cannot congregate,” he said.

Hume responded to Gutierrez-Duncan’s comments.

“For the caller that mentioned that this is moving the library farther away from some high schools and middle schools and elementary schools, you can say the same that it’s moving it closer to Pleasant Grove High School, Albiani Middle School and Batey Elementary School,” he said.