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New Lathrop library, teen center could open in 2012
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LATHROP – A new library and teen center is in the works for Lathrop residents.

The Lathrop City Council received an update from LDA Partners consultant Eric Wohle Monday night that showcased the elevations of the East Lathrop Community Complex – a center that will include a library and teen center as well as a common computer lab for residents to use.

According to City Manager Cary Keaton the funding has been set aside from development impact fees – similar to what was used to construct the new City Hall complex – and will cover the off-site improvements, the parking lot, and the building itself. The price tag for that phase of development is $4 million.

Based on the current plans, the site will take up an entire city block – bordered by Sixth and Seventh Street on the east and west, and L Street and Thomsen Road on the north and south.

With meeting rooms, a computer lab, a gallery, a fully-operational library and a teen center, the site is gearing up to become a major destination for Lathrop’s 18,000-plus residents.

But while everyone on the council voiced their support for the project, Councilman Omar Ornelas wanted to know whether there would be funding available to outfit the building once it it’s completed.

“I want to make sure that we have something to put into the building,” Ornelas said. “Off-site improvements and landscaping are nice, but not if all that we have is a big empty building with nothing to put inside of it.”

In response, Keaton said that the city can only tap into two definitive sources – the development impact fee fund and the general fund – to outfit the building. The possibility to utilize the park fund exists, he said, but has to be researched further.

And even though it might appear that the city has more money available in the development fund than it does, Keaton said that a portion of that has to go towards the debt service payment for the new city hall complex on Town Centre Drive.

The Lathrop Branch Library – which is operated by the San Joaquin County Public Library System – is currently located in a small office plaza on Seventh Street.

Based on a preliminary construction schedule included in the presentation, the new facility could be up and running as early as spring of 2012.