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.
On June 3 The office of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva issued the following press release about the selection of ArtsOC/Heritage Future as the applicants selected by the Fullerton City Council to provide programming and oversee needed renovations to the historic structure. Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s securing of $ 2.5 million in state funding is a crucial element in the revival of the Hunt.
City of Fullerton Unanimously Votes to Renovate Hunt Branch Library
Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva’s $2.5 million 2019 budget request that was approved and allocated to the City of Fullerton will be utilized for the renovations of the Hunt Branch Library. The Fullerton City Council unanimously approved the selection panel’s recommendation for the Arts Orange County and Heritage Future.
“I am very proud to have worked with the state to secure $2.5 million for a future renovated Hunt Branch Library. As a classroom teacher, and former City Council Member, I have always prioritized community spaces, literacy, and the arts. I cannot wait to see the Hunt Library open for the public again,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva.
The Hunt Branch Library was designated as a local landmark by the Fullerton City Council in November 2018. The designation is meant both to recognize significant structures in the city and to prevent them from being inappropriately remodeled or destroyed. The Hunt Branch Library was donated to the City of Fullerton by Norton Simon’s Hunt Foods Foundationin 1962. The building received this designation because of its significant style and outstanding design, as well as the importance and influence of its architect, William Pereira.
Arts Orange County’s experience as a non-profit arts advocacy group founded twenty years ago, at a time when such an organization was lacking in Orange County, has established themselves as a contributor to major and most minor arts organizations. Their work with many members of the group that continue to advocate for arts funding and support helps them lead the way for this project. Furthermore, they provide organizational and other services to our community which are vital for this project.
“Having this non-profit organization along with Heritage Future that is dedicated to community building, and providing a diverse neighborhood with creative and cultural opportunities for everyone in the City of Fullerton, I am confident that they will put the $2.5 million in California State Budget Funding to good use in this project,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva.
After years of discussions as to whether the facility should be renovated, the City Council has made a clear direction to the staff and community for how the site could be used and will move forward with the renovation project.
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.
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.