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Plaque could replace North Beach library branch

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A plaque or similar historical display could help preserve memories of the current North Beach library branch if it is razed to make way for parkland.

A new branch is planned to be built on a parking lot near the current library site, which was built on city parkland in the 1950s.

But a small band of preservationists is fighting to prevent The City from tearing down the existing building because of its historic significance.

The City’s Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote Sept. 1 to recommend designating the existing branch as a city landmark.

The Board of Supervisors will ultimately rule on whether to designate the branch as a landmark and whether it will be demolished. Landmarks can legally be demolished with appropriate approvals.

A draft environmental impact report prepared by city planning officials acknowledges that the demolition plans would have a significant and unavoidable impact on The City’s architectural heritage.

To offset the impacts, the report calls for the library department to install a permanent interpretive display at or near the site of the demolished building.

“It shall contain historic photographs and/or plans, as well as descriptive text,” the report states. “The design for the interpretive display shall be submitted to the [Historic Preservation Commission] for review prior to final installation.”

The library department would also be required to extensively photograph and document the current branch before it is demolished, the draft report states.

Preservationist Howard Wong, who is fighting to save the library building, dismissed the proposal and called for the structure to be saved from demolition.

“There is no reason why the North Beach library cannot be fully rehabilitated and expanded to obtain an even larger library than the one that’s being proposed,” Wong said.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing regarding the draft report on Oct. 7. The public can comment on the draft report until Oct. 12.