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Library remodel plans move forward

Hammond Community Library Director Michelle Johnson presented estimated costs of close to $1 million for the library building remodel to the Hammond Village Board at its Monday night meeting. The price tag is extremely preliminary and doesn’t included furnishings.

“This is less than a new building,” Johnson said. “We are also keeping an existing building in town that has historical value and sentimental meaning to many in the community.”

Johnson reported Gayle Mack of General Engineering Company (GEC) and her team, including a structural engineer, recently finished an evaluation of the library building. Johnson told board members she will have the final results and structural engineering reports for them in August.

Mack has outlined the project in three potential phases, Johnson said.

  •  Phase 1 would include a complete overhaul of the second floor community space and adding an elevator, which would also go up to the balcony. The estimated cost is $630,000. This also includes addressing structural issues with the floor.

Johnson said the plans include keeping the stage area, which she called “reminiscent of 1923 when the building was built.”

  •  Phase 2, estimated at $135,000, involves a redo of the downstairs library area, including paint, carpet and a new circulation desk. The plan is to keep the library stacks on the first floor, while making the second floor accessible to the public for community events outside of regular library hours, Johnson said.
  •  Phase 3, remodeling the old balcony overlooking the second floor, rings in at $85,000.

The construction can be done all at once, or in phases, Johnson said. It will depend on what time and budget constraints allow.

Johnson informed the board that a “friends of the library” group is forming and plans to file as a 501(c)(3). The group plans to take on fundraising, grant writing and general support of the library and the reconstruction project.

Trustee Wally Graf said he agrees with continuing to move forward with the project and advised board members to keep the library project and maintenance costs in mind in the next couple of years when planning the budget.

Johnson gave a rough estimate of 12-18 months to raise the required funds for the project; three to six months for planning and development; and 12-18 months for the reconstruction. She admitted those estimates may be optimistic.

Johnson is also asking community members to step forward if they know to whom the old theater seats on the library’s second floor belong. She is unsure if they were a donation to the building over its many years of service (as the American Legion, a school, etc.) or if they belong to someone who would like to claim them. If no one claims them, she would like to sell them and put the money toward the building fund.

“They are very old and come in sections of four and eight,” Johnson said. “They might be worth something.”

When asked if they could be used in the new community space when the remodel is complete, Johnson declined, saying the seats are “death traps for children.”

If anyone has information on the theater seats, contact Johnson at 715-796-2281.

In other business

  • The board heard a complaint and received a petition concerning a dog running loose belonging to a family at 750 Main St. The police department is working with the owner of the dog to figure out a solution.
  • The board addressed mowing concerns in the Black Duck development, and decided to take no action. It was determined per state statute that residents are required to mow the right of way.
  • The board decided to drop the village storm shelter issue. Police Chief Rick Coltrain reported that many communities are getting away from providing a public storm shelter due to liability issues. He suggested possibly adding an ordinance requiring townhomes and twin homes to have a safe room.
  • The board agreed to investigate the village’s borrowing capacity to fund the North Davis Street project.
  • A beer garden permit application was approved for JJ’s Sports Bar & Grill.
Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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