Mayor takes library move leadHalfway through a report on the Hudson Area Library Foundation’s plan to relocate the library to the Nuclear Management Co. building, Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson announced that the heads of the municialities involved would be taking the lead on the issue.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Halfway through a report on the Hudson Area Library Foundation’s plan to relocate the library to the Nuclear Management Co. building, Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson announced that the heads of the municialities involved would be taking the lead on the issue.
“I’ll start the ball rolling tomorrow at 7 o’clock,” he informed members of the Hudson Area Joint Library at their meeting Monday night.
The board was an hour or more into a report by library foundation member Jeff Zais — frequently interrupted by questions and discussion — on the latest developments.
The biggest news was Zais’ revelation that the library foundation had made a purchase offer on the building owned by Xcel Energy.
The offer drafted by library foundation member and attorney Sam Cari contained numerous contingencies and was for substantially less money than the reported $3.4 million asking price, Zais said.
It bothered the town of St. Joseph’s new representative on the library board, Dan Gavin, that an attorney for the library board or one of the joint library’s four member municipalities hadn’t reviewed the offer.
When Knudson rose to speak, he told Gavin that he had asked some pretty good questions.
“The question of who should be negotiating on that building, I think, is an open question,” Knudson said. “I think there are some basic questions about ownership (that need to be resolved).”
He pointed out that the question put to voters in the April 1 referendum was whether the municipalities should commit money to purchase the NMC building and operate it as a library.
Knudson said that forming an independent taxing district to operate the library or turning it over to a non-profit organization to run were “non-starters.”
The only two options are for the municipal partners in the library to own the building as tenants in common ownership, or for one of them to buy it.
“Either invite us aboard or we are going to have to kick the wheel ourselves,” Knudson said.
He added, “We probably should have been involved in negotiating the whole thing to begin with.”
Library board and City Council member Scot O’Malley welcomed the mayor’s involvement. So did library foundation president Hollis Grubb.
Grubb said he has been working for a better library for Hudson for 15 years. He said the recent developments were “thrilling.”
“The foundation welcomes new leadership,” he said.
O’Malley moved that the library board ask the Hudson City Council to authorize Knudson to take the lead in gathering information regarding the proposed NMC building purchase.
The motion also requested that the library foundation submit the option to purchase the NMC building that it signed to City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick for her to review.
The motion passed 4-2. It was supported by O’Malley, Gavin, Mike Hipsher and Sarah Smith. Marion Shaw and Dave Ostby opposed it.
Shaw and Ostby raised several questions about the feasibility of acquiring the NMC building.
Ostby noted that under the current joint library agreement, the library board has only the authority to operate the existing library, and not the authority to acquire a new building.
Knudson and O’Malley said the deadline for deciding whether to move ahead with the proposed building purchase was much nearer than library board members realized.
Library board chairman Jim O’Connor countered that the city of Hudson and village of North Hudson voters authorized the plan by a 3 to 1 margin.