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Settling fears and raising money

April 20, 2002

June Casagrande

NEWPORT BEACH -- Promoters of a joint school and public Mariners

Library hope that a fund-raising rally will also provide a forum to

assuage safety concerns about the project.

With nearly $200,000 already donated for the project, today's rally at

Mariners Park is designed to accelerate fund-raising in the face of an

early June deadline to raise $1 million. Former state Sen. Marian

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Bergeson and "Chicken Soup for the Soul" author Mark Victor Hansen will

speak at the event, which takes place from noon to 2 p.m. today at

Mariners Park.

"The response so far has been tremendous," said Bergeson, honorary

chairwoman of the Committee to Build a Mariners Library. "Getting up to

$1 million requires some large donors as well, and we're working on

those."

The $3-million facility would replace the aging Mariners Branch

Library and also serve as library to the students of Mariners Elementary

School. The plan is designed to take advantage of an unusual state

funding opportunity for joint projects. To qualify for the $2 million,

the state requires that the other $1 million be paid with charitable

donations.

But while the uniqueness of a library to serve a school and the public

has created the opportunity to qualify for the state Proposition 14

money, it has also raised concerns from residents who say it could pose a

safety risk to the children. Planners hope the rally will be a chance to

explain why they feel that the project will be safe.

"We want everybody who has a question to bring it," Bergeson said.

Newport Beach Community Services Director LaDonna Kienitz, who also

serves as the city's head librarian, said there's a high level of

community support for the project.

"There's is a lot of commitment everywhere on this project," Kienitz

said. "It's very exciting."

To apply for the grant by the June 14 deadline, the City Council must

first verify that enough matching funds have been raised. The latest

meeting of the council before that deadline is June 11 -- in effect, making that the fund-raising deadline as well.

The new library would replace the existing Mariners Branch library at

2005 Dover Drive with a facility built at the southeast corner of the

school campus. The 12,500-foot library would be roughly double the

existing Mariner's branch and would include expanded collections and

state-of-the-art technology. Separate entrances and separate areas for

students and adults have been proposed as a way to keep kids safe.

* June Casagrande covers Newport Beach. She may be reached at (949)

574-4232 or by e-mail at o7 june.casagrande@latimes.comf7 .

FYI

WHAT: "Build a Mariners Library" rally will include an appearance by

"Chicken Soup for the Soul" author Mark Victor Hansen; a disc jockey and

dancing; face-painting for children; food booths; and other activities.

WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m. today

WHERE: Mariners Park

PHONE: For information or to make a donation, call (949) 644-3150.

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