Ping-Pong balls may be flying sooner rather than later in Library Plaza, the grassy space outside of the Central Library that’s mostly used today by sleeping homeless people. After pong proponent Hugh Margerum presented his idea to the City of Santa Barbara’s library advisory board on Tuesday, the board informed him that they’d be sending a recommendation to the City Council to allow the installment of a concrete public Ping-Pong table, which Margerum, Mark Collins, and their supporters have offered to do for free.
“Our board was favorable to the idea,” said chair Eric Friedman, who works for 1st District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal but serves on the board in his own capacity. “We spent a lot of time over the last couple years on the plaza renovation, but that was killed due to the loss of RDA funds,” said Friedman, referring to the state’s slashing of redevelopment monies last year. “We’re looking to get the community back in that spot, and this is an intriguing proposal.”
Everyone agrees that there are still issues to work out, like liability and maintenance costs. “They brought up some legitimate concerns,” said Margerum, but he doesn’t feel that the library needs to worry about policing the table. “Volleyball courts and tennis courts don’t require policing,” he explained. “People just get along.”
After the board crafts the letter, Margerum must firm up his plan with specifics and begin presenting to the other committees that have actual teeth, like the legendarily strict Historic Landmarks Commission and the Parks & Recreation Commission. Explained Friedman, “The library has so many different agencies that oversee it besides the council.”
Overall, Margerum was excited by the progress. “Initially, they were the roadblock,” he said of the board.