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Turlock council says no to all Carnegie bids

TURLOCK -- The future of the Carnegie Arts Center remains uncertain after City Council members decided to reject all the bids to rebuild it.

The council Tuesday night met in closed session for about 90 minutes to discuss property negotiations and potential litigation.

Afterward, City Attorney Phaedra Norton said the council directed staff to reject all bids.

"We will bring this back to the City Council for action," Norton said.

Mayor John Lazar said that, because of the potential litigation, council members would not comment, but the city will issue a news release stating the council's direction today.

It's not clear what kind of lawsuit is threatened. The council had been set to vote on awarding a construction project last month.

Bids on the project, opened in June, all came in below the city's $7.8 million estimate. Later that month, the council agreed to "placemark" $3 million in funding to rebuild the center, provided that arts supporters can put together a comprehensive business plan for its operation.

In November 2005, midway through a small renovation, the building burned after two burglars set a fire to cover their tracks, according to authorities.

Originally one of 2,000 libraries built by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the center played host to art classes, exhibitions, poetry readings, storytelling, concerts and plays in recent years.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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