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Our View: Commons site holds great opportunity

After more than 15 years of discussions and study, the city appears to finally have chosen a site for a new community library.

Though it’s far from certain, the June 30 joint meeting of the New Richmond City Council, the New Richmond School District Board of Education and the New Richmond Library Board bore fruit with the city and district agreeing to work together to develop the Community Commons site with a library on it.

The Library Board still recommends the city build its new library at the site of the current library, but moving forward with any site feels like good progress.

It is still unclear exactly who will be among the up to 12 people invited to participate in the pre-project development charette, but that group will hold a huge chunk of the city’s future in its hands.

This group will be the first to put their hands in the clay to shape what could ultimately become not only the city’s new library, but also has the potential to serve as a town square, city plaza or a community campus of essential government-run and nonprofit services.

Mary Sather has written her column on Page 4B this week in favor of repurposing the 1926 portion of the building and using it as a new library, but to do so would be missing a grand opportunity to think big and build exactly what we want and need in a way that compromises nothing aside from what the community can afford.

Cramming a library into a space once specifically built for another very different purpose would be a mistake. It would be an even bigger mistake to fumble away the opportunity to let the old building continue to decay on the property that could serve as a key community centerpiece for generations.