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Library Foundation says new building is good deal

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

About 50 people turned out for an information meeting about a new library for Hudson. The information was provided by the Hudson Library Foundation, an independent body that raises funds to support capital improvements for the library. They believe they have hit on the best and ultimate improvement in the form of the now-for-sale NMC building at the corner of First and Vine streets.

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The foundation, headed by President Susie Gilbert, has been spearheading the information campaign in support of the new "Lakefront Library" and for a yes vote on the non-binding advisory referendum April 1. The referendum asks voters if they would support the use of taxpayer money to help purchase the building and refit it.

Jeff Zais, a member of the foundation, made about a 40-minute presentation that covered the history of the Hudson library to the present. He also provided information about how the Hudson library compared to other communities like River Falls and Stillwater. The Hudson library is smaller than those in both communities, has a smaller budget and a smaller staff; all while the population of Hudson has grown by 24 percent since 2000, and library circulation has gone up by 105 percent during the same time.

Zais said that the NMC building, first built to house Erickson Diversified, is a more economical, long-term solution to library space needs. "The building is attractive, available, affordable and accessible."

There has been interest in building a new library on land owned by St. Croix County at the corner of Vine Street and Carmichael Road, but Zais said the county has been reluctant to make a decision on what to do with it. And based on their calculations, buying the NMC building and refitting it would be a better financial option.

Zais said the estimate to purchase and build a new library on the county land is about $12.5 million. The foundation's estimate to buy the existing building, refit it and purchase new furnishings and additional inventory is about $9.5 million The foundation believes that approximately $5.5 million could be raised privately and that it would take about $4 million of taxpayer money.

According to information at the meeting, that would mean an additional $24 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation. Zais said that figure includes $9 toward the property purchase and $15 for operating expenses.

For more information about the Lakefront Library proposal and the non-binding referendum, go to www.lakefrontlibrary.org.

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