YUCCA VALLEY — Lots of things are happening in 2020: it’s an election year, the big census count will be taken and the new library will open in a refurbished former bank building.
The town’s officials hope the new location for the library on Twentynine Palms Highway and Joshua Drive will make it a gathering space.
“I think it will be a good hub for our town,” Councilman Rick Denison said.
During the Town Council meeting on June 18, the council unanimously awarded a $2.9 million construction contract to Diamond Construction Inc. for renovation of the former PFF Bank Building.
Construction began in July and is scheduled for completion by March 2020.
Once complete, it will be the new home for the Yucca Valley branch of the San Bernardino County library system.
The Town Council announced this summer the new library will also be the first spot in Yucca Valley to house an electronic charge charging station.
Construction is already well underway. The building will have a new roof and the restrooms will be “completely gutted” Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle said in his June report.
The building was once the local branch of Pomona First Federal. It closed in 2009 after Downey Savings and PFF were folded into U.S. Bank.
“It’s a prominent corner,” Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Drozd said in June.
Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lombardo was especially enthusiastic about the technology improvements and said he is excited to see top-flight technology being brought to Yucca Valley to help young people be more competitive.
“I think it will be a great way to connect to the world,” Lombardo said in June.
Once the library is open, the county will lease the building from the town.
The town also owns the land next to the building, and plans to use it for public art exhibits and other events — and maybe a small park.
The town’s redevelopment agency, a government agency run by the Town Council acting as a board of directors, bought the building and the land next door for $1.35 million in 2009.
Some Yucca Valley residents accused the local government of using public money to close off a prime piece of real estate, and redevelopment agency members voted in 2010 to put the building on the market for a few months. It never sold.
Redevelopment agencies used money diverted from property taxes. They were controversial, and California dissolved all of them in 2012. With that, the town’s options for the building were limited. If it sold the building, it would have to give most of the profits to other government agencies.
Instead, in 2015, Town Council members said they wanted to lease the building to the county for a large, updated library.