By Ted AYALA
Glendale’s Brand Library and Art Center is on the cusp of a major renovation of its premises. Situated in the hills over Kenneth Village, the library – well recognized for the ornate, Indian-inspired architecture of the original 1904 building – will be closed beginning early in 2012 for renovations that will include seismic retrofitting, historic restoration and preservation, improvement of the building’s electrical wiring and plumbing, and improved access for the disabled. The project is estimated to last for 18 months during which the library will be closed to the public. Library staff and events to be dispersed to other Glendale Library branches.
Fran Offenhauser, architect and representative for Gruen Associates, the company overseeing the project, spoke at length about the importance of renovating the library during the Glendale city council meeting on Tuesday. Referring to the library as “an iconic treasure,” she outlined the project as being one that juggles restoring the building’s original appearance while expanding the needs of its patrons for the 21st Century.
Glendale resident Mike Mohill appeared on the council dais to support the project.
“We’re lucky to have [architects] who know what they’re doing,” he said. “They have a great sense of balance, color, landscape and furniture for the period. I see nothing but positives.”
Council agreed and voted unanimously to initiate the project.
Coming back to an issue which was touched upon in late 2010 was the provision of tow services on behalf of Glendale Police (GPD). The source of contention is the partition of the city to its three tow providers based on tow estimates provided by the city which have not been met, with Crescenta Valley Tow suffering the brunt of the problem.
“Tows have been on a downward trend,” said the GPD’s Capt. Carl Povilaitis. “It’s been down 28% since fiscal year 2004.”
With the tow contracts about to lapse, Povilaitis presented three options for moving forward with the tow service program. The first would be to renew the contracts as they stand with the existing partitions.
“This has worked well for GPD in balancing its needs, but the original paperwork did refer to estimates that the breakdown [between the three tow companies] would be 40%, 40%, and 20% in the northern area [which would be allotted to Crescenta Valley Tow]. Those estimates have not been reached,” said Povilaitis.
The second option redraw the tow boundaries in favor of Crescenta Valley Tow, which would see its borders pulled further south that they stand now.
“This would bring us closer to [the breakdown of the original percentages],” added the GPD captain.
The final option would reopen the contracts altogether for open bidding.
Erik Olson, attorney for Crescenta Valley Tow, spoke to the council on the need to redraw the boundaries.
“The economics for Crescenta Valley Tow was built upon the [estimates] given by the GPD. Our clients invested [$250,000] in improvements based on these assumptions,” he said. “Rather than 20% in tow volume, they were getting 10%.”
“The proposals put forward tonight were a bit disappointing,” said Crescenta Valley Tow’s co-owner Sam Present. “In an effort to be fair, there really didn’t seem to be any effort to equalize [the tow boundaries]. Our area is primarily residential. In order to increase the towing volume, we need to be in an area that has high traffic. While we do support proposal two, we would like to request that the GPD review the area quarterly until Crescenta Valley Tow receives its 20%.”
“I’m willing to keep the contracts the way they are,” said Councilman Rafi Manoukian. “I see no compelling reason to change it.”
Councilman Dave Weaver said it would be difficult to partition the areas by percentage. “But I lean to option two. However, it’s difficult to be fair to all three tow companies.”
Offering a more extreme alternative was Councilman Ara Najarian who proposed doing away altogether with the three-way split and, instead, dividing the city along a 50/50 split.
“But they’ve invested so much in capital improvements,” countered Weaver. “I’m not going into dividing it between two companies. We have to be fair to them and the community.”
After discussion, Najarian relented, agreeing that the contracts should be adjusted.
Ultimately, the council decided to take a hard line on the contracts, voting 4-1 (with Najarian dissenting) to keeping the boundaries as they stand rather than revising them.