Letters regarding the library referendumThis section contains several letters representing both sides of the new Hudson library referendum question.
Vote ‘yes’ for library
Laura Whitney, Hudson
A great opportunity has come knocking on the door of the Hudson community. The Library Foundation has done monumental work in researching the possibility of a new library in an extraordinary location at a bargain. The local governing bodies have worked diligently to update the library agreement getting ready for the November ballot.
The possibility of philanthropic funding looks promising. The architects are assuring that the NMC building can be readily made into an ideal facility for library use. Now it is the public’s turn to step up. You will be mailed information about the vote and exactly what it will mean on your tax bill.
I think we all realize that our current library is insufficient for the needs of this community. This is a real chance for an improvement to the Hudson area that benefits everyone. When times are tough, public facilities become even more important.
Please vote “yes” twice in order to move this project forward. There are two library referendums that must be approved.
Need library, but...
Kevin Krenz, Hudson
The debate regarding the upcoming public library referendums has been civil, constructive and informative, unlike some others I can recall from years past.
Both the proponents and skeptics have presented good arguments, but the question is not whether we need a better library (we do) but whether this is the right time and the right way to meet that need.
The present and future economic picture for many families is extremely uncertain, and is not likely to stabilize for a very long time. The prudent and natural response by most people is to examine expenditures very carefully and to reduce the amount of money exiting the household wherever possible, especially the discretionary spending, preserving funds for the necessities.
I would argue that library improvements clearly belong in the discretionary column as opposed to necessities like public safety and basic infrastructure.
A riverfront library is an attractive image, but the first responsibility of government at any level is to provide for the safety of its citizens, as well as clean water, effective waste treatment and adequate roads. It is obvious that our police department’s resources have not kept pace with the population increase, and are further challenged by a community that is way too easy for the bad guys to get into and out of via I-94.
The city did a great job improving Crest View Drive, but there are other roads that will require attention in the near future. In addition, water supply and waste treatment will be a continuing challenge for this area.
The public well is not bottomless, and this is the wrong time to be dipping into it for non-essential expenditures and considerable future costs.
That said, I’d like some day to see a new library, slightly bigger than the present one, with enhanced remote internet access for those who can’t or don’t want to drive, and in a building that won’t cost over a million dollars a year to operate.
I’d like to see it in a location that acknowledges the demographic realities of the Hudson area, with safer access for children and no possibility of flooding its basement! The mere availability of the NMC building is not a reasonable argument for saddling the community with ongoing commitments that may imperil funding for more essential services. We can do this right, when the time is right, but not there, and not now.
Library is 50 percent off!
James O’Connor, North Hudson
How often have we taxpayers been able to obtain a major new public facility for one-half price? That unique opportunity is available now, with the referendums for a new joint library in the former NMC building.
Prior letters have dwelt on the project budget of $10.5 million, which includes fixtures, automated equipment and a major expansion of the collection.
Over a million is included for contingencies, which may not even be needed.
But less than half of it would come from taxes, and that would be financed over 20 years. Taxpayer capital costs are limited to $5 million, with $5.5 million to be raised by the Library Foundation from private sources. And there is no risk to taxpayers, as the governing agreements require that the foundation obtain commitments for $4 million by September 2009 before any public money is spent. There would be no effect on taxes until 2010.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Library Foundation for taking the lead in making this opportunity possible, and most of all for the commitment to raise $5.5 million of private money.
The need is great. Area residents are big library users, with circulation doubling since 2000 and growing at 12 percent per year. This year library circulation will be 330,000 books and other materials. That amounts to 1,075 items checked out every day the library is open.
Two items of misunderstanding need correction. The building is not oversized. Robert Rohlf’s study recommended a building of 31,000 square feet. The NMC building has 29,635 square feet on the first and second floors for the library. The basement would be remodeled into much-
needed community meeting rooms.
And parking is ample. The dedicated lot behind the building is nearly as large as the present library lot, which is shared with other building occupants and the adjoining church. There is a large lot across the street, and NMC employees parked 100 cars on streets and public lots. They are now gone, leaving more than enough parking available. And, the library is closed Friday and Saturday evenings when the Phipps and
restaurants are busy.
This is a golden opportunity for area residents to vote for the library they need and deserve. In five years we’ll look back and think how lucky we were to get his great facility when it was available, and at half price to boot.
Library makes sense
Leif Halverson, Hudson
We’ve been here before. Confronted with tough economic times, we’re asked to approve a tax increase for a public library. As published in Hudson’s newspaper The True Republican, March 26, 1903, on the prospect of acquiring Hudson’s Carnegie Library, “A person paying tax on $1,000 would pay 90 cents each year towards this library. It would be by no means burdensome to any taxpayer.” Today’s 24 cents per $1,000 proposal is truly a bargain in comparison.
Andrew Carnegie believed if an individual had access to a library but chose not to use it, then that individual was choosing a lower status position. The Carnegie libraries assured that those living in communities possessed them; every citizen who desired to educate him or herself could do so.
In comparison to other Wisconsin public libraries in communities similar to Hudson, our current library scores below average by approximately 2:1 in all aspects polled: square footage, full-time staff, inventory, operating budget and computer access.
Please vote “yes” for the referendum; you’ll be investing in your community’s future, investing in our children’s future. The Lakefront Library located on First Street will bring a vibrant synergy to our downtown, cultivating an enlightened community.
With respect to this ideal location, to reference again Hudson’s The True Republican, March 30, 1903, in official discussion, “on the site, the sentiment was unanimous - They hold that a library must be located in the biggest flow of population where it will compete on equal terms with the saloons, bowling alleys and the loafering places.”
In 1903 the citizens of Hudson voiced their approval; given the hindsight, we too should have ample courage to seize this tremendous opportunity in recognizing the value of education and culture.
Libray is good for area
Carol Anderson, Hudson
In this economic climate, it is most important to vote “yes” on the library resolution. There are numerous reasons but two stand out.
The first is that families need a serene space to loan books, DVDs, hold seminars, etc. It is the best entertainment for the entire family and promotes sound learning experiences for all. And with budgets tightening, we all need a place for free, great entertainment other than the TVs. And more and more families will be utilizing this form of entertainment, thus more space is needed.
Second, an excellent and beautiful library helps the value of our homes and neighborhoods, just like our outstanding school system and the noted and famed Phipps Center. In this climate of falling home prices, Hudson needs the library to show that our area is a great place to reside. Building a green school and now having a green library makes Hudson a place of progressiveness and forward intelligent vision.
It is important to show we care about conservation and being green and doing the right thing for now and the future. It is fiscally responsible as the cost will never be better and energy will be saved. This is our chance to be a role model for our children and show them and everyone that we are forward thinkers in Hudson and proud to do the right thing.
Library is great asset
Marybeth Lorbiecki Mataya, North Hudson
In our planning surveys for North Hudson, residents stated their desire for a new library. Now is our chance, which won’t come again anytime soon. This is a chance for a lovely, appropriate facility without the enormous costs of building from scratch.
The location will allow library patrons to visit The Phipps next door, shop downtown, and enjoy the river and riverside events. This chance depends on every area community to step up to the plate and say “yes,” twice — to the building and to the operations.
Let us do our part in North Hudson! The library will be in walking and bicycling distance from us, and it will help build up the entire Hudson area for today and the future in terms of democratic access to books, media, computers and rooms for community discussions.
Ben Franklin thought libraries were so essential to a community that he started the first one in America and communities around us and around the world that have invested in their libraries have felt the immediate and long-term educational and economic benefits. Let us do the same for ourselves.
Libary is exciting
Susie Gilbert, North Hudson
One issue facing voters in four municipalities of St. Croix County Nov. 4 is the outcome of the Lakefront Library project. So many people —from municipal leaders and members of the Hudson Area Library Foundation to Friends of the Library and other citizens — have worked endless volunteer hours on developing a solid, responsible plan and presenting it to the voters. And frankly, as a member of the Hudson Area Library Foundation, I’ve often felt less than optimistic about the outcome of the library project given the uncertainties of the economic climate of the past few weeks.
Last Monday night my spirits were lifted. While giving tours of the NMC building to interested citizens, I noticed a young girl who had walked through the front door. I asked if I could help her, and she told me that her parents had toured the building and she was very disappointed that she was not able to attend with them. She had just come from a program at the Phipps Center for the Arts and wanted to take the opportunity to come and see the building that she hoped might become the new library. As we made the tour through the lower level and I explained our vision of the children’s area, I was caught up in the excitement that I saw in her eyes. “Wow, this would really be nice,” she said. “We really need more space.” I then asked her name, her age, and if she used our current library. “My name is Mattie and I’m 11 years old. I use the library almost every day.”
We continued on to the upper level and her eyes got even bigger and brighter, and she exclaimed another “Wow!” Then, as if in the story of Cinderella, she turned and asked me what time it was. I told her, and she said, “Oh my, I need to go!” and rushed down the stairs and out the door.
To me Mattie represents the countless number of people who have expressed their excitement in the site for the new library and their appreciation for all we are doing to try to make it happen.
The library is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a long-term investment in our community for all walks of life, especially our children. Mattie, your face and your excitement will remain ingrained in my mind and to me represent what this project is really all about.
Consultant backs plan
Robert H. Rohlf, Robert H. Rohlf Associates, Minneapolis
It is heartening to read in your paper that many citizens of the Hudson area have actually read and reviewed our report concerning recommendations for an improved Hudson area library facility. The present building is woefully inadequate and must be replaced.
The proposed site, while smaller than we recommended, makes the library a part of downtown and is an excellent location for the library. The adjacency to the Phipps Center would also allow a synergy between the two cultural institutions. Further developments along the river would enhance the site even more.
In reviewing the parking situation with 44 spaces on the site and 100 spaces across the street in a city-owned parking lot, the number exceeds the 105 in the preliminary recommendations. While the recommendations were for a dedicated library lot, the fact that available parking exceeds the recommended number and the heavy use of the city lot is at times when less library parking is needed, it would appear that the parking will be adequate.
In an ideal world a new library would be on a single floor. However the recommended size is at the edge of where it becomes advantageous to move from a single floor to multiple levels, and the plan would greatly improve library services and capabilities. The multiple floor plan will not increase the staffing needs since the present library now operates in two separate areas due to the lobby, stair and elevator that service other non-library parts of the building and effectively cut the library into two service functions. Some more staffing will be required in the future to handle the greatly increased use that is typical of a library move to a new facility. I understand that this cost is included in the project costs.
While the proposal before the voters does not exactly match our recommendations, the variations are not significant enough to lose this opportunity to greatly enhance library facilities and services in the Hudson area.
I recommend that the voters approve this proposal.
Dan Bushman, Hudson
As a supporter of the referendum to create a new library with the purchase of the NMC building, I continue to see the opportunity as one without downside, but for a very nominal property tax increase.
Is a bigger, better library necessary? The consultant’s study says yes, absolutely, and without qualification in every way.
The NMC building happens to offer a unique and less costly opportunity. The building is an outstanding structure in an excellent library location. It is an existing structure built with green construction principles. The value of its location in downtown Hudson, the hub of the community, cannot be overstated. The location even brings the necessary parking area with it.
Is the building big? Yes, and it is bigger than what a consulting group said would be typical for the population it serves. Ironically, the cost of buying and renovating this building is less than what a new library of the smaller size would be. Keep in mind, bigger than “typical” does not mean “too big,” just as more leg room in your car does not mean “too much.”
The advisory referendum resoundingly endorsed NMC building as the location to pursue. The message was that community wants this to get done. The thought and logic of the plan is obvious and information on all levels of this opportunity has been readily available.
I applaud the members of the Library Board, the Library Foundation, and the volunteers that continue unselfish efforts to make this opportunity a reality. They do not in any way, shape or form deserve to be belittled with terms like “conned” as one letter writer used, or “bait and switch” as a city councilperson said in a meeting, for their efforts to better our community. This cynical, inflammatory tripe attempts to dirty the earnest efforts of decent people rather than discuss and debate the issues.
I also tip my hat to the elected leaders of the community who worked diligently through a maze of governance issues to bring the referendum forward. I could quibble over details and wording, but they created the opportunity to vote yes.
Supporting this library improvement is investing in your community and your neighbors. Vote yes.
New library is needed
Jeff Zais, Hudson Area Library Foundation, Hudson
I recommend that voters in the area support the referendum questions regarding improved library service at the Lakefront Library location. This proposal is the result of years of discussion and work among the various stakeholders, and represents a great path forward.
Back in 2001 I wrote a series of letters to this newspaper, outlining the various problems with our library. In the subsequent years, mainly through the formation of the Joint Library, the Library Board has worked to solve the fundamental imbalance in library funding. We now have a stable base on which to build.
Meanwhile, demand for library service has continued to increase, even in the Internet age. Circulation is booming, story hour is overcrowded, and patrons use the online MORE system to order books on tape and CD, along with more traditional materials. A major stumbling block to providing adequate library service here in Hudson continues to be overall funding.
Typical libraries throughout Wisconsin are funded at about $41 per person, while here that rate has been about $21, just half of the average.
Efficiency of operations is a key design goal for the Lakefront Library project, so even after the move, we can expect to pay 15 or 20 percent less than the state average for library services. In no way should this project be considered a taj mahal.
Another financial aspect of the proposal which is very appealing is the matching funds from the Library Foundation. Our governmental leaders worked diligently through the summer to reach an ownership agreement for the new building. They also modified the original proposal to make it more attractive to taxpayers, requiring the Library Foundation to raise a minimum of $4 million in funding before any public dollars are invested in the project.
With this matching funds arrangement, the taxpayers get a $10.5 million library by making only a $5 million investment. Proposals to build for a lower cost and at another location have been suggested, but those proposals lack the appeal to attract philanthropic dollars. Therefore, the cost to the taxpayers would actually be higher than the Lakefront Library proposal.
Finally, it’s important to remember that this is a proposal with a long time frame. We have the opportunity to provide a home for the library that will last for decades. Please vote yes so that we can provide adequate library services to our community.
Vote ‘yes’ on library
Shaleen Culbert-Kivlin, Hudson
I strongly encourage area residents to vote yes on the library referendum.
It always amazes me that people who don’t use libraries assume that no one else is using them either. Libraries are more important than ever in our society, providing essential access points for information for all citizens including Internet access, programming for adults and children and resources to assist with students’ homework.
Numerous space needs studies have been conducted throughout the years, and they all come to the same conclusion. The library needs more space to serve its patrons needs, whether those needs are recreational or informational. The NMC building will allow the library to better serve all of the residents in our community by providing ample room for books and technology as well as a comfortable space for patrons to work and reflect.
It is important to note that if the Library Foundation does not secure the necessary donations, the municipalities are not committed to fund their portion of the project. I believe they will succeed and this community will finally have a library that all of its residents can be proud of.
Libraries use their tax resources wisely and a recent study revealed that $4.06 are returned to the community for each dollar of taxpayer investment. Make an investment in the future of our community: vote yes on Nov. 4!
Vote 'yes" for library plan
Patricia Zais, Friends of the Library Volunteer, Hudson
Your yes vote in favor of the “Imagine Your Lakefront Library”
project is important.
The views out of the front windows of the NMC building are breathtaking any time of year. My tai chi class at the Phipps gathers at the windows during our break. It is the same view as out of the NMC building. We see beautiful wildlife such as eagles, whooping cranes and pelicans. We see a crystalline winter wonderland and the monochromatic blacks and whites of winter.
I walk to the Phipps from our home at least once per week and have no trouble crossing at Second and Vine. There is a light for pedestrians at that corner.
The 21 possible sites identified as possible library spots have been evaluated carefully. In this process, many sites were eliminated, and the only one remaining was the county government land, which still isn’t for sale. The old hospital site is not good as it does not meet the key three criteria (visibility, accessibility and activity). We are fortunate that the NMC location emerged at the end of the site selection process.
Believe in the future. Vote yes twice (once for the building and once for the operating costs) when you vote on Nov. 4.
Library is good idea
Mike Hipsher, Joint Library Board Member, Hudson
I am writing in regards to the article that appeared in the Hudson Star-Observer last week about the joint library. In the article you included comments from Marion Shaw, a joint Library Board member, who voiced opposition to a new joint library. I would like to clarify for your readers that there is near unanimous support by the joint Library Board for not only the need for a new library, but also for the NMC location.
I would like to explain why I believe the joint library proposal is good for the four municipalities that are going to be voting on the binding referendum questions. First, I believe most people agree there is a need for a new library in Hudson. The current library is about one-third the size required for the population it serves.
Secondly, the cost of building a brand new library is projected to be about $2 million more than the proposed cost to remodel the NMC building.
Thirdly, at least 50 percent of the cost must be paid by private sources instead of taxpayer dollars. A Minneapolis firm has reported “clear evidence” of philanthropic support from area foundations, organizations and individuals to fund at least half of this project.
Lastly, and most importantly, the NMC building and location is ideal for the library. It is the right size. It is well constructed, and it has the benefit of one of Hudson’s finest resources, the St. Croix River.
I truly believe the time and place is right for a new library. I have been a Library Board member for over four years. I am passionate about our library and the services it provides. We have been working toward a new library for at least the last three years, and have been waiting for the county to decide what they are going to do with the property by the Government Center. It is serendipity for the NMC building to become available. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we cannot let slip by. Please vote yes on the two questions concerning the new joint library on Nov. 4.
New library is good idea
Donna Miller, town of Hudson
As a retired educator living on a very limited, fixed income, I whole-heartedly support the funding of a new library location for the greater Hudson area.
Why? Because for me, it makes economic sense. For the price of a two or three new books and a couple of tickets to a first run movie, I will have access to unlimited numbers of books, films, magazines and newspapers. I will be able to spend hours in a beautiful facility, perusing fiction and non-fiction, biography and poetry. I will be able to check out movies and documentaries.
And when my grandchildren come to visit, I’ll be able to take them to downtown Hudson for a stroll along the river, lunch or snacks at any number of locally owned restaurants, perhaps an art exhibit at the Phipps and culminate the excursion with a visit to the gorgeous, sun-lit children’s area of the new library.
The financial incentives are clear. Yes, my taxes will go up a bit. But what I will receive in return is of much higher value than the taxes I’ll pay, both in absolute dollar terms and in the equally important category of aesthetic and intellectual stimulus.
I urge citizens of the greater Hudson area to vote yes for the two library referendums on Nov. 4. The Lakefront Library vision is one that makes financial sense for the entire community.
Vote ‘yes’ on library
Hollis Grubb, Hudson Area Library Foundation President, North Hudson
For the mere cost of a cup of coffee per week per household, citizens of the Hudson area can enjoy a first-class library.
The cost of a cup of coffee will provide our young people a contemporary library with facilities comparable to libraries in area towns. We can escape the stigma associated with our present inadequate library and bring it in line with Hudson’s fine hospital, YMCA and Phipps Center. All we have to do is vote yes on both library referendums..
City of Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson, a fiscal conservative, has endorsed approval of the library referendums. People who comprehend the library situation realize that with the Hudson Area Library Foundation providing 50 percent of the funds, the referendums are a very attractive opportunity. With the passing of the referendums, the Hudson Area Joint Library receives a fine building in a prime location with adequate parking. In addition it will receive $1,250,000 for fixtures, furnishings and equipment, plus $550,000 for new publications and $1,100,000 for contingencies. This is a bargain we should not pass by.
The new building will be more than a place to check out books. With the new facility we can provide entertaining and educational programs for the nearly 1,000 tots and parents registered for children’s programs. There will be adequate space and computers for those who now stand in line to use them. The new library will feature isolated study areas, a safe gathering area for young adults, and public gathering spaces for meetings and classes. Adequate space for our present and future needs will be provided by the new facility.
Present economic conditions are such that some would delay any purchase, regardless of the benefits of going ahead. Because it takes time to raise funds, plan and construct, the tax impact will not take place until 2010, at the earliest, when conditions should improve. Delaying is not an option. The building is subject to sale to others, and the foundation’s offer to finance 50 percent pertains only to the program for the NMC building.
Our predecessors boldly invested in this community for us. Now it is our turn to be bold. Let’s provide a respectable library for our young people. Let’s vote “yes” for both library referendums.
Need a new library
Priscilla Wyeth, Hudson
The Lakefront Library’s future depends on two yes votes Nov. 4, one to issue bonds to fund the renovation of the NMC building and the other to levy additional taxes to fund the ongoing operations.
There’s some confusion about key financial components. Here are some facts:
In addition to being a unique public resource, libraries are a solid public investment. Numerous independent state and national studies have shown that the positive economic impact of libraries is significant. In Wisconsin, a library returns over $4 to the community for every $1 of tax.
The numbers speak for themselves: Residents want more investment in their library — more space for classes and community meetings, more computers for job hunting and word processing, more materials for education and entertainment and a larger children’s collection.
Renovating an existing building is the easiest and least expensive to bring about a library and community resource that meets our needs and vision.
The Lakefront Library is an investment that benefits us all, and I urge you to vote yes on both questions.