Hundreds gathered outside the new Half Moon Bay Library on Saturday morning in anticipation of its grand opening. After roughly two years of construction — and many more years devoted to dreaming and planning for the new building — the doors finally opened.
“This is such a remarkable occasion,” said Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose to the crowd spilling out into Correas Street. “We actually have a drone filming us right now.”
The buzz of a drone could be heard over the sounds of the crowd and Penrose noted that the footage would likely be posted on the city’s website soon. Penrose, along with other speakers who shared their thoughts on the facility before the opening, praised the library’s features and ticked off the key players responsible for making them a reality. Penrose acknowledged Noll & Tam Architects for the library’s design and the community for contributing ideas.
She also praised former Half Moon Bay City Councilmembers Rick Kowalczyk, John Muller and Marina Fraser for the work each put toward the library and noted the presence of former Half Moon Bay Mayor Albert Adreveno, now 95, who was the town’s mayor when the original library was opened to the public decades earlier.
U.S. Rep Jackie Speier told the crowd that the new facility “took her breath away.”
“This is the most magnificent library in this county,” she said. “Be very proud of it.”
Speier called out Marina Fraser for the work that the former councilwoman had done for the library. While serving on the Half Moon Bay Parks and Recreation Commission, Fraser got her start on the library journey as part of a library task force in 2000.
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley told the crowd how the library was paid for from proceeds from Measure K, the library Joint Powers Authority and money raised from the Friends of the Half Moon Bay Library. The library received funding from a variety of local sources, including the Half Moon Bay Rotary Club. The area where people stood before the opening was named “The Rotary Plaza” because of the club’s donation.
He also praised the library’s “net zero” status, which, as he explained it, means that the library is capable of generating its own energy sources. In addition, Horsley noted, the design’s many windows help cut back on the need for artificial lighting.
Patrons were invited to explore the new 22,000-square-foot facility and participate in various crafts and other projects set up at some of the tables. Entertainment was lined up for the day and began with performers from Ayudando Latinos a Soñar.
Branch Manager Annie Malley was all smiles as she shook hands and welcomed people to the new space. During the library’s construction, library facilities were temporality located at Shoreline Station, which was roughly the size of the children’s room in the new facility.
When asked to describe how she was feeling, Malley selected the word “ecstatic.”
There were some in the community who saw the proposed library as too large and not in the scope of the feel of small-town Half Moon Bay. Some were also wary of the city’s original plan of funding the library with lease revenue bonds — a method that would leave the city with more debt. In the end, the size of the library decreased, and the city secured the money it needed for its portion of the library through a $6 million advance from the county. Per the JPA agreement, the county was responsible for half of the funding but provided the additional money toward the city of Half Moon Bay’s portion in the form of an interest-free loan.
Whether paid for by lease revenue bonds or from the county’s loan, Kowalczyk noted the city got the library with no additional taxes to its residents. He also sees the investment paying off in the decades to come.
“This is going to be the epicenter for Half Moon Bay for the next 40 years,” Kowalczyk said.