by Mark Levy | January 13, 2022 | Op-ed, SC Sentinel
I have lived, taught, and worked in Santa Cruz proper since 1971. I’ve seen a lot
of change. All too often, I’ve witnessed change with non-transparent ulterior
In the case of the new library battle, I am suspicious of what the plan is for the
current, possibly soon-to-be “old” library building, if vacated. I have not heard
those plans included in the discussions at all. Is it to become more office space for
the city council and for the city administrators? Or what? I don’t think the city
wants to discuss this, which almost certainly means they already have something
in mind that they know people won’t like.
The plan for our current library, if vacated, most certainly needs to be part of the
I have been generally opposed to the plan to move the library, but I also
acknowledge that rarely does anything move forward without compromise.
Especially in Santa Cruz. In spite of that, I, for one, might be swayed to support
the library move if the current library site and its parking lot were to be razed and
transformed into a town center park. Perhaps it could even extend into the street
where the defaced Black Lives Matter sign sits.
Such a park site would be ideal for its unimpeded sunlight, proximity to the Civic
Auditorium, downtown offices such as Parks and Recreation, City Hall and the
medical clinic directly across the street.
Envision this as a wonderful place for city and office workers as well as the
general public to sit, eat lunch, socialize and catch a breath of fresh air. Additional
possibilities might include civic-minded events, including outdoor speaker forums,
awards/ recognition ceremonies and other categories of public outreach. Consider
it a fresh new venue for outdoor music, street fairs, like the monthly antique faire,
Greek Festival expansion, Cabrillo Music Festival and other events previously
causing street closures, and all without intrusion upon surrounding residences,
businesses or parking revenue.
Finally, but certainly not least of all, such a park site would allow the Farmers
Market a new and permanent home not far from its current location. This would
end one of the most unsolved and debated aspects of the current library plan. And
with this park as the regular location of the Farmers Market and other events, it
would not become a possible site for a homeless encampment, solving that
Think of this new park as our own town zocalo. A true town center. Like
Watsonville, which is currently working to renovate its own zocalo/park, this is an
idea that has been an acknowledged need, discussed and tossed about for a long
time. I suggest now is the ideal time for this to be included in the library plan.
I believe it sweetens the entire overview and perspective upon the library
A compromise worth considering. Perhaps this can refocus the contentious library
debate and bring people a bit closer together — in more ways than one.
I doubt I am alone in saying I could be swayed to support the library move with its
newly revised and improved design if it included the creation of a new park and
permanent venue for the Farmers Market downtown. This concept also goes a
long way towards defining and refining a truly beautiful Santa Cruz town center for
all of us.
Mark Levy is a resident of Santa Cruz, a retired high school teacher at Santa Cruz
High School for 36 years and active in process inclusive reform.