Citing fiscal woes, Calabasas has turned down an invitation from neighboring Agoura Hills to join forces and build a regional library--killing, at least for now, a longtime dream of the two cities.
Calabasas Mayor Karyn Foley said her city cannot commit to the project without a guarantee that Los Angeles County will pay for the facility's operation and maintenance. Foley and Agoura Hills Mayor Louise Rishoff said that the county has refused to provide such a guarantee.
Calabasas officials announced their position at a recent joint city council meeting held to launch plans for a regional gymnasium and community center. Officials from the two cities say they like the idea of regional facilities and that they have enjoyed working together on the regional gymnasium and community center.
But the decision by Calabasas casts doubt on whether the regional library--an idea that has been around for years--will ever become a reality.
County Librarian Sandra Reuben said she had hoped that the two cities would pursue plans for the regional library. But she said her agency is unwilling to commit funds at this point because its own fiscal situation is uncertain. The library system, she said, is facing an anticipated 1995-96 fiscal deficit of about $34 million.
"It would be irresponsible for us to promise anything at this point," she said.
Agoura Hills already has land for the library, but lacks money to complete the project, which officials estimate would cost about $5.7 million. Agoura Hills officials say it makes no sense to move forward without Calabasas.
"It is foolish for us to build a library that is going to be an empty shell," Rishoff said.
Agoura Hills' 7,500-square-foot library--built in 1970 before either city incorporated--is the busiest library for its size in the county library system, officials said, and has outgrown the existing building.
Calabasas now uses a small room in City Hall for its library, but must move it because the city needs the space. Foley said earlier this week that Calabasas would move forward with its plan to find a larger space.
Agoura Hills, meanwhile, is holding a fund-raiser for its library. Library officials are asking parents of children to gather pennies from around the house and take them to school April 25, 26 and 27.
Reuben said she plans to meet soon with officials from the two cities to talk about what the cities want to do now that the regional library idea appears to be dead. "In my mind, it is a little bit of a setback from what we had been planning, but it's not devastating," Reuben said. "We'll work it out."
Officials from both cities say they hope the idea will be resurrected someday. "I would hate to see us get parochial about this," said Agoura Hills City Councilman Ed Corridori. "I would like to see some kind of commitment . . . that we won't let it die."