VALLEJO – A January fire at the John F. Kennedy Library in downtown Vallejo caused $294,000 in damage to the building’s second and third floors, according to a proposed repair contract released by the city on Tuesday.
The fire started on Jan. 9 when a tent located near the building caught fire which spread to trees and broke a second-floor window. Firefighters were alerted to the fire by bystanders who called to report the burning tent. The fire department was already at the library teaching a CPR class when the firefighters noticed smoke over the top of the building.
The two-alarm blaze forced the evacuation of the library and nearby City Hall. The fire was quickly extinguished but the library was closed for most of the rest of the week.
When the library reopened, certain sections of the second floor were closed to public access with a temporary barrier. The city contracted with Benicia firm Restoration Management Company to erect a barrier, dehumidify water-damaged areas, and remove damaged ceiling tiles and flooring. The immediate work to reopen the library cost $31,000, according to the city.
The city is now seeking to fully repair the library, which it estimates will cost an additional $263,000. It again is seeking to contract with Restoration Management Company to replace windows on the second and third floor, install new carpets and clean scorch marks from the side of the building.
Most of the cost will be covered by a city insurance policy, which covers damage to city-owned buildings with a deductible of $25,000, according to the city.
The Vallejo City Council is expected to approve the repair contract at its meeting next week. At the same meeting, the council will once again consider whether to renovate the library as a new police headquarters and move the library to a two-story office building along the waterfront.
The city had initially intended to use the waterfront office building at 400 Mare Island Way as a new police headquarters and some policing services have operated out of that building for years. But because of public backlash to the plan, the council changed course last year to consider using the library as a new police headquarters.
The police department also uses a portion of the library as evidence storage. To fully renovate the library as a new police headquarters and move the library to 400 Mare Island Way would cost between $75 and $109 million, according to a cost estimate released by the city on Tuesday.
The Vallejo City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., Tuesday inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers at 555 Santa Clara St.
Members of the public will be able to participate in-person or remotely via Zoom.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
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- Vallejo Fire Department
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- Vallejo City Hall
- Restoration Management Company
Scott Morris is a journalist based in Oakland who covers policing, protest, civil rights and far-right extremism. His work has been published in ProPublica, the Appeal and Oaklandside.
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