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Supporters want county land reserved for library

St. Croix County's Finance Committee is recommending that the County Board appoint a committee to work with Hudson library representatives to develop a proposal to reserve county-owned land for a new library.

Although no decision has been made on selling any of the open land around the St. Croix Government Center, the County Board voted in June to ask Hudson to rezone 35 acres from R-1 (residential) to a mixed use district, thus opening it up for other purposes.

Hudson Area Library Foundation representatives have identified the Vine/Carmichael location as the preferred site for a new area library and asked to use a consultant's suggestion that would allow a potential user to pay a fee to secure a site while funds are raised.

The partners planning the new Hudson Area Joint Library would like to see an advisory referendum on a new library next April, said Bye Barsness, the foundation's executive vice president.

Library supporters don't think they'd get support from voters or elected officials if there was no identified site for the new building, said Barsness. He said design and construction wouldn't begin until 2009.

County Board Chairman Buck Malick suggested the County Board appoint three people to negotiate with the library foundation to work out a proposal to reserve part of the Government Center property for the library.

The County Board hasn't voted to do anything with the consultant's recommendation to market some of the unused land around the Government Center, said Supervisor Esther Wentz. She suggested first asking supervisors if they "have an appetite to sell."

"A recommendation is one thing," said Wentz. "A real vote is another."

Supervisor Daryl Standafer agreed that the board's action is not a statement that it's ready to start selling land. He suggested it's counter productive to create the appearance that that's what is going to happen and make supervisors feel they've been backed into a corner.

The Finance Committee voted to recommend that the County Board appoint three representatives to work with the library foundation to develop a process for reserving a site.