By Abel Reader
April 1, 2017 (La Mesa) --By a unanimous vote, La Mesa’s City Council has voted to eliminate City Hall and build a state-of-the-art new library in its place, fulfilling a years-long promise to residents. The project will be paid for by selling off the old police station to a developer who has committed to build affordable housing on the site.
“This is a win-win for La Mesa,” said Mayor Mark Arapostathis, a junior theatre instructor who initially opposed the plan until a performing arts center that can double as public meeting space was added to the plan.
The four-story structure will also include a “cat café” and bookstore at the recommendation of Councilwoman Kristine Alessio, who pledged to bring her exotic felines to interact with customers seeking the “purr-fect” reading niche. The cat café bookstore, which will also have free wi-fi, will be jointly run by Alessio and Craig Maxwell as a companion outlet to his Maxwell’s House of Books.
Adding affordable housing to the village on the old police site won support of new Councilmember Colin Parent, who also insisted on bicycle racks and golf cart parking spaces to serve La Mesa’s resident’s, young and old.
The new library will have a circular design, incorporating spiral elements reflecting those in the Helix snail statue commissioned for the Centennial. A corner penthouse suite with village views will provide offices for La Mesa’s librarians and Council staff. Parking will be underground to maximize bookshelf space.
Councilman Guy McWhirter voiced optimism that the La Mesa Village Merchants could use the library’s stage as an added venue for Oktoberfest and Holiday in the Village festivities. “Book it!” he declared.
Councilman Bill Baber affirmed his enthusiasm for the virtual meeting concept, noting, “Now I can hear testimony and cast votes from the comfort of the nearest taco shop or while traveling out of town."
Friends of the La Mesa Library, which proposed a virtual City Hall to clear space for the new four-story library, argued convincingly that actually meeting with the public is passé.
“Everyone has a smart phone now,” a press release from the group concludes, “and paperwork is all online. Who needs offices? Council can chill out with mocha javas at the Cat Café, or tap dance their way across the Arapostathis Stage on the new library’s top floor, and live-stream proceedings to the world. “
The public has long complained that afternoon Council meetings are inconvenient for some. So Friends of the Library concludes, “Just as Council members already have options to attend meetings remotely while traveling, now the public, too, can log in and speak out from home, work, or anywhere else--and if they really want face time with their Council members, there’s always the Cat Café.”
Happy April Fool’s Day!