We are a group of Fullerton citizens concerned that the historic Hunt Branch Library building is in imminent danger of being sold by the City of Fullerton. We are exploring viable options for its use to benefit the community rather than allowing this public asset to be sold to a private concern. We invite your ideas and participation. For general information about the Hunt, visit the page "About the Hunt Branch Library" on this site.
The City of Fullerton is inviting individuals to participate in a 15 minute online survey about what programs the public would like to see at the Hunt Library when it opens. You can fill out the survey at this link:
According to the City of Fullerton, “This survey is intended to help guide our program planning by collecting input from members of the community such as you. Your responses will help shape the plan..”
On June 15 the Fullerton City Council will consider a policy statement concerning the Hunt Library. The statement, reproduced below, begins with the very important statement that the Hunt should remain a property of the city and be utilized for the benefit of the public. Save the Hunt was founded to see a policy like this supported by the city and put into effect.
The Goals and Visions include recognition of the structure’s style and historical importance. This is a critical position for the council to adopt to avoid inappropriate restoration and/or additional structures on the site that might compromise this unique structure and campus. It could only be strengthened by adding that no additional structures should be built near the Hunt.
One might also wish for the council to support a policy of the Library Board of Trustees having some role in overseeing the site and activities there.
The City Council meeting will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., CA 92832, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, Ca, 93832. Options for public participation can be found below:
“PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Pursuant to Executive Order N-29-20 and given the current health concerns, members of the public can access meetings streamed live online at https://fullerton.legistar.com, on Spectrum Cable Channel 3 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. The City Council Chamber will have limited seating available on a first- come, first-served basis for members of the public to attend the meeting in person. All persons visiting City facilities shall wear face masks and observe social distancing protocols.
In lieu of public attendance, members of the public can submit comments electronically for City Council consideration by clicking on the eComment link accompanying the agenda posted online at https://fullerton.legistar.com until the close of the public comment period for the item.
Alternatively, the public can send correspondence to the City Council regarding agenda items by emailing email@example.com with the subject line “CITY COUNCIL MEETING CORRESPONDENCE – ITEM #” (insert the item number relevant to your comment) or “CITY COUNCIL MEETING CORRESPONDENCE NON-AGENDA ITEM”. Staff will forward correspondence received to City Council. All correspondence received becomes part of the official record of the meeting and posted online with the supplemental materials for that meeting. Contact the City Clerk’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (714)-738-6350 with any questions.
The Fullerton City Council unanimously approved the applicant recommended by a review panel to begin engagement with the city about providing programming and renovations to the Hunt Branch Library. A joint proposal by Heritage Future and ArtsOC received the support of all five members of the council, but not before at least two other applicants complained about what they perceived as an opaque selection process. Several speakers representing Access California, who scored third of eight applicants, asked the council to continue the decision to a future meeting. Council member Jesus Silva countered with a concern that the $ 2.5 million state grant secured by Assemlbywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (his wife) for restoration and upgrades to the facility might not be available for an indefinite period, and urged a timely decision by the council.
Council member Ahmad Zahra suggested that the motion to approve Heritage Future/ArtsOC should include a backup selection of runners up, but that effort was ultimately sidelined. Zahra eventually joined the other four members in voting in favor of the winning application without such a provision.
The city will now, according to the agenda report for the June 2 meeting, “begin work with the selected provider to finalize both physical improvements needed at the site in order to utilize a $2.5 million State appropriation secured by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and create a partnership agreement outlining the terms of operations and services for the future of providing the priorities as outlined by the Hunt Branch Library Ad Hoc Committee. The agreement will be brought back to the City Council for approval.”
Plans for renovations of the building and grounds merit close scrutiny. We will be following the process to see what the applicant and city have in mind, and work, where necessary, to ensure that any physical work on the building is appropriately conceived and executed.
The council’s approval of a partner to present new programming the facility marks a milestone in the efforts to Save the Hunt, once viewed as a relic whose best use to the city would be to sell it off for a short term financial gain. Instead, the building and site have been removed from the city’s list of surplus properties and have received some measure of historical recognition and protection, a public committee has recommended that the facility remain in public hands for the purpose of arts and literary programming, a partner selected to do just that, and $ 2.5 million secured to address the Hunt’s infrastructural needs. The story continues to unfold, but without the support of community members like yourself, none of these goals could have been achieved.
Fullerton City Council Meeting: Tuesday, June 2, 6:30pm
Agenda Item # 10 (3rd major item to be heard)
We need your help Tuesday to let the council know if you agree with the recommendation to engage the winning respondent to the Hunt Request for Proposal (see below for this week’s Observer article). Please also ask that the Library Board of Trustees be allowed to oversee the new project, as the $2.5 million rehabilitation grant requires some type of library connection.
As you know, the mission of Save The Hunt is to keep the Hunt Branch Library in the public realm for community use. We wanted to see something as close to a library use as possible, and are especially concerned that the building itself be preserved without undue additional or insensitive construction.
In-person attendance is now allowed again at City Hall; social distancing and face covering required. Attendee overflow is next door in the Library Conference Room.
You can also call (1), e-mail (2), and/or e-comment (3) the councilmembers:
The Fullerton City Council is scheduled to consider proposals for programming in the closed Hunt Branch Library during it’s regular meeting on June 2. Eight different organizations responded to a Request for Proposals issued last November by the city to solicit programming proposals for the site. A five member panel that included members of the Library Ad Hoc Committee reviewed the proposals following direction by the council in March. The highest ranked proposal came from Heritage Future in partnership with Arts Orange County. The council is being asked to approve staff engaging with the Heritage Future/Arts OC.
Arts OC is a non-profit arts advocacy group founded twenty years ago at a time when such an organization was lacking in the county. Every major, and most minor, arts organization in OC is a member of the group, which advocates for arts funding and support and provides organizational and other services to both local governments and constituent members. For many years they have managed the Imagination Celebration in Orange County. Heritage Future was founded by Kevin Staniec, a writer, publisher, and arts impresario who founded and directs the 1888 literary space in Orange and has organized exhibitions for the City of Irvine’s Great Park gallery for many years and previously worked for the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.
The joint proposal envisions utilizing the historic Hunt Branch Library as an arts and literary presentation and educational space. Staniec would serve as the program team leader, while Arts OC would help to conceive, plan, and implement programs for the space and grounds. The proposal also includes architect Robert Young, who would presumably direct use of $2.5 million in state funding for renovations and restoration of the building.
What oversight the Library Board of Trustees will have of the project is unclear, but the state grant requires that the site retain some aspect of library use.
The library’s tenant, Grace Mission University, also submitted a proposal to utilized the site, scoring at number 5 of the 8 submitted proposals. The next to highest score was received for a proposal called Hunt Library Gardens, but no other information about it is provided in the agenda report, nor were proposals submitted by Access California, Arborland (who operate a private school in Amerige Heights), Faruk Zia & Associates, OCHCC, or Bonnie Hall.
In late November of last year, the city of Fullerton released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for partners interested in the revitalization and operation of the Hunt Branch Library, which has been closed to the public for over 5 years. Although the original RFP response date in late Jan. deadline was extended to Monday, Feb 24, the community group responsible for focusing attention on the fate of the closed library is asking that the deadline be extended once again to allow time for more potential partners to respond.
The group, Save The Hunt (STH), was formed to keep the Hunt Library in the public realm for community use instead of being sold, as suggested by members of the city council. STH are also concerned that the 1962 building and grounds, which has since received national registry status, be properly restored, and, additionally, not overshadowed by insensitive new development on the site.
Four events primarily contributed to community alarm over the future of the Hunt Library, given as a gift to Fullerton by Norton Simon:
-The Library had at one point been placed on a list of city properties for potential sale to try to solve the City’s financial woes. It has since been removed from that list.
-Several councilmembers stated that they were open to private purchase of the library by the neighboring church, Grace Ministries International (GMI), who purchased the neighboring site, the former Hunt Industries headquarters.
-In 2018 the City Council considered a move to wrest the governance of the municipal library system away from the sitting Library Board of Trustees, which, though ultimately unsuccessful, did result in a change in the city’s library ordinance.
-The abrupt closure of the Hunt Library in 2012 and subsequent lease to a private institution, GMI, at the a below-market rate: $1,500 for over 10,000 square feet in an iconic midcentury building.
Fortunately, a spirited effort was pulled together in 2018 to design a process that could fund a revival of the Hunt Branch. The city was pressured into forming a special Library Ad Hoc Committee, who pulled together an enormous amount of information under a very short deadline. Their final report to the City Council suggested that the City release an RFP to the community to develop interest in partnering with an organization that could provide funding for a library or provide programming in literacy, arts, culture, or education. In accordance with community wishes, they specifically recommended against private institutional or commercial use.
While the city’s RFP allows for non-profits and literacy, arts and education uses, it also allows for-profit organizations and even entrepreneurial business and workforce development uses. Save The Hunt hopes that the partner chosen will provide for a use more in line with the Ad Hoc’s recommendations.
Capital vs. Operational Funding and the Need for Publicity
Save the Hunt are also very concerned that many potential partners remain unaware of the RFP issued by the city. Without extensive outreach to arts and literacy organizations, only businesses who stay in touch with municipal RFP offerings will see the RFP at all. The City has expressed its hope that the community will spread the word about the opportunity, but the city should still make an extensive effort of its own to further publicize the RFP.
The city’s inclusion of the $2.5 million capital improvements grant from the State of California as integral to the RFP has attracted builders interested in repairing the facility, but may have intimidated nonprofits who can provide appropriate community programming from responding form responding at all. Save The Hunt suggests an option to separate the capital construction management aspect of the RFP from the nonprofit programming and operations purposes in order to attract more not-for-profit respondents. This option could attract more appropriate offers than proposals with a small amount of cultural and literacy programming, who might be more interested in responding primarily in order to qualify a large commercial development on the site.
The RFP states that an evaluation panel will be formed at some point to make a recommendation to the City Council. Although the library is technically owned by the City, the Library Board of Trustees governs most library issues, they are, at present, not included in the partner section process, although the board has requested that it be allowed to participate. The city should also considering drawing on the experience of the Ad Hoc Committee for this purpose.
To learn more, visit SaveTheHunt.com or call the City at (714) 738-6317 or Save The Hunt at (714) 729-3019″
The City of Fullerton has released a Request for Proposals intended to solicit interest in “programming and operations” at the historic Hunt Branch Library. Submission are due no later than 5:00 p.m., Thursday, January 23rd, 2020UPDATE: The city has extended the deadline for receipt of proposals to February 24. Deliver submissions to the City Clerk, City of Fullerton, 303 W. Commonwealth Avenue, Fullerton, California, 92832.
According to the cover of the RFP, the city is looking for a partner to provide “cultural and/or entrepreneurial type services and programming”
“Qualified partnership teams must have significant experience and demonstrated ability to develop successful and high quality literacy, educational, cultural and/or entrepreneurial programs. Qualified teams will have experience collaborating with various organizations and managing educational programs and services. The selected partner(s) will be responsible for programming and operations at the Hunt Library building.
The City has secured $2.5 million in funding to assist in the renovation of the interior library building and is prepared to work with the selected partner(s) to create a welcoming and efficient space for literacy, cultural and event programming.”
The timetable described in the RFP is as follows:
“Phase I (February) – Focuses on proposer(s) qualifications, experience, and other factors; and Phase II (March – April) – Respondent(s) who meet qualifications will be invited for interviews.
Phase III (May) – Finalize recommendation to the City Council.”
At 5:30 p.m., May 7, the Fullerton City Council will hold a Study Session about the Hunt Library in the council chambers located at 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. The purpose of the session is to discuss “identifying and prioritizing future potential uses of the Hunt Branch Library as recommended by the Library Ad Hoc Committee.”
The page includes a copy of the Library Ad Hoc Committee’s report to the Fullerton City Council, as well as a letter from the Library Board of Trustees, who wrote that “We endorse the goals presented by the Library Ad Hoc Committee, and we agree with their first priorities emphasizing a broad spectrum of literacy programs. This priority would include Art, Culture, Museum Uses, Events, Activities and Classes which would benefit the larger Fullerton community.”
On February 1 of this year the council directed city staff to schedule the study session in order to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued by the city. Non-profits or other outside agencies could respond to the RFP with proposals to operate on the site, providing programming in accordance with list of prioritized uses identified by the Library Ad Hoc Committee (literary, arts and culture, events, classes, etc.).
The staff report for May 7 recommends developing an RFP to solicit partner organizations to not only provide compatible programming in accordance with those suggested by the Ad Hoc Committee, but also one that would obtain “grants and other funding for capital and other improvements to the building and grounds to modernize its technology ability, make it accessibility compliant, and to repair and / or replace necessary plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems,” suggesting that the city is not prepared to make these investments.
The agenda report anticipates considering responses to an issued RFP sometime before the end of this year.
The study session represents a valuable opportunity for supporters to attend and voice their support for keeping the Hunt Library in the public realm.
The California Historical Resources Commission has approved the California Register landmark nomination for the 1962 Hunt Center and Library. The landmark nomination was one of four nominated properties on the consent calendar of the Commission’s February 1 meeting agenda. The report accompanying the nomination noted that the “district retains a high degree of historic integrity.”
The Hunt Center includes the Hunt office building, the designed landscape, a platform with metal canopy, six modernist benches, and six hexagonal planters. The Hunt Office Building was characterized as exhibiting “all the striking elements of the international style,” including its “rectilinear form and steel structure, glass panels, and repeated modular panels.” The Hunt Office Building and its surrounding grounds are owned by Grace Ministries International, who added a large unrelated structure to the property after purchasing it was Hunt Wesson, Inc. Grace Ministries currently leases the Hunt Library from its owner, the City of Fullerton.
The Hunt Library, conceived as a companion to the Hunt Office Building in style, was described as embodying all the features of a small branch library of the period, designed in the international style, one seldom otherwise used in Fullerton. The nomination also cited the importance of the Hunt Library having been designed by word famous architect William Pereira and commissioned by Norton Simon, a self-made industrialist and art collector.
On November 20 the Fullerton City Council officially added the Hunt Branch Library located at 201 S. Basque Ave., to the list of the city’s Local Landmarks. The designation is meant both to recognize significant structures in the city and to prevent them from being inappropriately remodeled or destroyed. The addition to the list was unanimously recommended by the six members of Fullerton’s Planning Commission present for their October 24 meeting.
According to the staff report given by the Community Development Department’s Joan Wolff, “This designation is given to a building, structure or natural or manmade feature having a historic character or historic, cultural, architectural or aesthetic value with respect to the heritage of Fullerton, which merits preservation, restoration and/or protection.”
The report cited three of the ten criteria under which buildings can be designated Local Landmarks, including its significant style and outstanding design, as well as the importance and influence of its architect William Pereira. The presentation included images of the library dating to 1963, just a year after it opened, along contemporary views, noting that the building looked very much the same as it did over half a century ago. Ms. Wolff described the Hunt’s style as International, although its roofline incorporates elements of the more Brutalist style employed by Pereira in his later works, some of which, like San Francisco’s Transamerica building and UC San Diego’s Geisel Library were also shown in the presentation.
The City of Fullerton owns the Hunt Branch Library and surrounding grounds, although the building is currently leased out to Grace Ministries International (GMI), who, in 2000 purchased the adjacent property that once served as the headquarters of Hunt Wesson/ConAgra. The library’s architecture echoes that of the GMI-owned four story office building, also designed by William Pereira. Together, the two structures and the surrounding park were conceived as a unified campus by Mr. Pereira and his client, Norton Simon, although GMI has since added other large buildings to it. Norton Simon commissioned the Hunt Branch as gift to the city in 1962, but the Fullerton City Council has not to allocated the necessary funds to operate it as a library branch since 2013.
No members of the council had any questions for Ms. Wolff. Public comments began with Bob Linnell, representing Fullerton Heritage, who had submitted the lengthy, well-researched application to the city. Mr. Linnell thanked the staff for the presentation and noted that Fullerton Heritage has also submitted an application to California’s State Historical Resources Commission “requesting that the Hunt Library and the former Hunt Administration Building and the surrounding campus be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” The application is expected to be heard by the state panel in February next year, and the state’s recommendation passed to the federal government in early summer for a final decision. Noting that a Landmark status adopted by the city was important to the National Register decision, he nonetheless observed that it would be Fullerton’s Local Landmark designation itself that would “better protect the building from any future threat of demolition or mistreatment or some compromise of the building’s architecture.”
Jane Reifer expressed the community group Save The Hunt’s support for listing the property as a Landmark, and thanked Fullerton Heritage for their years-long effort to that end. Fullerton Heritage’s application to the National Register includes all of the original Hunt Library and Office Building campus, but City Council changes to the Local Landmark process made within the last two years now make it more difficult to list privately held properties without the cooperation of owners, so only the city-owned Hunt Library was included in the local application.
Councilmember Greg Sebourn called it “an honor” to move the item. Mayor Chaffee, who has in the recent past supported selling the building, called the Hunt an “architectural gem” before voting along with the other four members of the council to unanimously designate it as Fullerton’s most recent addition to its list of Local Landmarks.