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House earmarks $200,000 in federal funds for new library

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, announced last week that he was able to include $200,000 in funding for the Hudson Area Joint Library in a spending bill that passed the House of Representatives June 14.

The funds are targeted for construction of a new library serving the city of Hudson, village of North Hudson and towns of Hudson and St. Joseph.

The fiscal year 2007 Transportation/Treasury/ Housing and Urban Development spending bill now goes to the Senate. A press release from Kind's office said the Senate is expected to pass the bill in the next few months.

Kind notes that Hudson and the surrounding municipalities are among the fastest growing in the country.

"Meeting the needs of these rapidly growing communities has been a challenge, especially given the budget constraints on local governments. I am pleased that I am able to assist the Hudson area in acquiring funding to support this important community project," Kind is quoted as saying in the press release.

The congressman also announced last week that he was able to secure $100,000 in funding for improvements to Hudson's dike road in the spending bill.

Dubbed the Hudson River Walk project, it will upgrade the pedestrian walkway that extends from Lakefront Park nearly two-thirds of the way across the St. Croix River. The major component of the project will be construction of a pavilion and restrooms at the end of the dike.

Jim O'Connor, chairman of the joint library board, expressed appreciation for the possible federal funding. He said he realizes the Senate also will have to approve the funding, however, for the library to receive it.

Kind's press release describes the present library located on the first floor of the Hudson Municipal Building, 911 Fourth St., as overcrowded and obsolete.

According to library officials, more space is needed for books, public-use computers and children's programs.

A library board strategic planning committee has been looking into ways to improve library service to the Hudson community for more than a year.

More recently, the board has contracted with a Minneapolis library consultant who will make recommendations on the type of facility to build and how much to spend on it.

O'Connor said he expects consultant Robert Rohlf to deliver his conclusions in July.

"We realize there is a lot of public interest in it. We appreciate that," O'Connor said. "We just have to have more information, more specifics, before we can really put together a plan that can be presented to the public. That's our quandary."

The library board also has been waiting for the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors to decide if it is willing to offer a library site on the county land north of Vine Street and east of Carmichael Road.

Meanwhile, a new proposal has been brought forward to locate the library on the site of the former Hudson Medical Center at the west end of Wisconsin Street.

O'Connor said recent surveys conducted by the city of Hudson and village of North Hudson showed strong support for improving the communities' public library.

"We are looking forward to the consultant study answering many questions about library expansion and giving us some guidelines to work with," O'Connor said. "When the report is received, we will be distributing it to the community at large."

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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