The Hunt Library has received $ 2.75 million in funding in the 2021/2022 fiscal year budget just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. This new round of funding will add to a $ 2.5 million State Library grant received last year by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. A press release from Quirk-Silva’s office called the new funding the result of “a joint request” made with State Senator Josh Newman, whose own press release said the additional funding will “complete the Hunt Library’s Revitalization Project so that the library may once again serve as a cultural landmark for the community.”
The new funds will not only help to complete reconstruction and renovations costs for the nearly 60 year old structure, but $ 250,000 will be used to “cover start-up funding for the cultural arts and library services,” according to Quirk-Silva’s office. Although the Hunt will not reopen as a city library branch, some sort of library function will be required to satisfy the perimeters of the State Library grant.
Opened in 1962, The Hunt Library served as a second branch of the Fullerton Public Library for over 50 years before being entirely defunded by the City Council and closed in 2013. The facility was leased to neighboring Grace Ministries International for several years before being removed from the city’s list of surplus properties at the urging of the community group Save The Hunt, who successfully campaigned to have the historic William Pereira designed structure and its surrounding grounds remain as a public facility. Local preservationist group Fullerton Heritage secured its status as both a local landmark and a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Council ultimately approved the formation of a Library Ad-Hoc Committee which recommended arts and literary programming for the Hunt.
The new funding comes at the request of Arts OC, who, in partnership with Heritage Future, were chosen by the City as a “programming partner” for the Hunt, although a formal contract with the groups has yet to be signed. ArtsOC CEO Richard Stein explained that his organization requested $ 2.75 million for the Hunt Library Revitalization Project, including $ 250,000 specifically for start-up programming, but Stein cautioned that the funds will be awarded to the City of Fullerton, who will ultimately decide how the money is to be spent. In March the City retained Thirtieth Street Architects for revitalization plans, which are expected to include a new roof, as well as other utility related repairs. At least some of the structure’s distinctive floor to ceiling windows are said to be in need of replacement. The mid-century modern building’s bathrooms will also need to be made ADA accessible.
The new funding is also expected to be used for work on the grounds and parking lot. The City’s Park & Recreation Dept. recently announced plans to move the popular dog park located on the Hunt grounds since 2011 to Brea Dam Park, a move Stein said would “mitigate concerns about conflicting uses as well as expand the areas available for outdoor programming and parking.” The group’s operations fundraising plan includes weddings and other special events rentals, a strategy employed by the Muckenthaler Cultural Center and Fullerton Arboretum, each of whom often hold such events outdoors.
Recommendations for programing will be included in a report ArtsOC and Heritage Future anticipate submitting to the City by the end of July, but Stein did allude to one event already planned for the Hunt. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts has been awarded to expand an existing Dia del Niño festival to the Hunt site for a day. The report is based on months of community input in the form of stakeholder interviews, an online survey, and visioning sessions at the closed library to help determine the Hunt’s programs. “We see our upcoming report as forming the basis for such an agreement, and look forward to those discussions with the City,” said Stein.