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EDITORIAL: Library site decision a challenging one

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opinion New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

The city's consultant working to identify a preferred site for the new or expanded public library got it right when they determined that the present location is the best one.

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With its high visibility, pretty location and close proximity to the heart of New Richmond, few could argue that Friday Memorial Library is in a great spot. In fact, it would be the perfect spot for just about anything, including a library.

But pressure from those hoping a new library at the Community Commons building would solidify a partnership among various non-profit groups and community organizations has officials wondering if the selection process isn't simply about "location, location, location."

Several City Council members voiced their concerns that the Community Commons site was not fully evaluated. Scenarios studied by the architectural firm, Cuningham Group, included renovation and demolition costs of the old middle school and they deemed it too expensive. Some had hoped to see cost estimates related to a library building constructed next to the Community Commons complex but not incorporated into the facility.

If some construction savings could be realized in that spot, additional parking and greater community partnerships could result. That might be enough to make it worthwhile to move the library south, some suggest.

Another fly in the ointment, however, will be the Library Board's ability to raise donations to finance a large portion of the new building or expanded facility. Because the city's coffers are low, elected officials were hoping that a fair amount of money would need to be raised to make the project a reality.

Library Director Scott Vrieze reports that he thinks fundraising will be easier if the library stays put. Others aren't so sure.

Whatever way the city heads, it's clear that more conversations are needed. Even though the debate over a new library has been going on for years, the most recent push to choose a site seems a bit rushed. A few more weeks of discussion won't hinder things that much.

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