Supervisors adopt French Valley library project

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The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the French Valley library project Tuesday, April 7.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote also adopted the environmental mitigated negative declaration for the project which includes a mitigation monitoring and reporting program to address any discovery of Native American cultural resources, approved a cultural resources monitoring agreement between the county and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, and approved a cultural resources treatment and tribal monitoring agreement with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

The Riverside County Library System includes 36 branches and two bookmobiles. During fiscal year 2018-2019 more than 3.7 million visits were made to those facilities. RCLS staff conducted a review of library operations and determined that additional branches in French Valley, Menifee and Desert Hot Springs were desired to meet increased visitor demand and provide efficient library facilities. The Real Estate Division of the county’s Facilities Management worked with RCLS staff to establish a private-public partnership in which a real estate developer plans, designs, and constructs the three branches while the county then leases the library facility.

All three new libraries will be built on land the county already owns. The new French Valley library will be on an 11.33-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Winchester Road and Skyview Road and will have approximately 25,000 square feet. The Menifee library will be located on a 4.73-acre parcel at the intersection of La Piedra Road and Menifee Road and will measure approximately 20,000 square feet.

In July 2019, the county supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a private-public partnership agreement for the three new libraries which will be built on county-owned land. Capital Facility Partners will design and construct the facilities, maintain and operate the building facilities, complete all on-site and off-site improvements and be responsible for all environmental aspects. The county will pay rent for the facilities on a semiannual basis. For the first 10 years, the rent will be $3.90 per square foot per month. The ground lease and facilities lease will be for a 30-year period, although the county will have the option to purchase the facilities and improvements after the sixth year. The July 23 action also authorized lease revenue tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of the libraries.

Although Capital Facility Partners will be responsible for the environmental actions, the county’s facilities management department is the lead agency for the environmental review. An initial study released for public review in January was followed by the draft mitigated negative declaration. Consultation with Native American tribes took place between July 2019 and December 2019. Mitigation measures were developed to address concerns about the accidental discovery of cultural resources and ensure that any inadvertent discovery of such resources does not create any significant impacts. The monitoring agreements which are limited to $30,000 per tribe will compensate the Soboba and Pechanga tribes for their tribal monitoring during the grading, groundbreaking, excavation and ground disturbing activities.

Construction on the Menifee library is expected to begin this spring and be complete in late 2020 or early 2021.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at jnaiman@reedermedia.com.