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County says 'no' to reserving land

A proposal to negotiate with the Hudson Area Library Foundation for an option to buy a parcel on Government Center property was rejected by the St. Croix County Board last week.

The motion to appoint a committee to negotiate "for an option or some other reservation of right to acquire a parcel of land on the Government Center property for a new library building," failed on a 13-17 vote during the board's Aug. 21 meeting.

A consultant's report presented earlier this summer suggested the county establish a "reservation fee" plan to allow non-profit organizations "to secure a site while they raise funds."

Earlier this month, library representatives asked to use this process, saying that identifying a site for a new library is critical to moving ahead with fundraising.

"I don't think it's appropriate yet," said River Falls Supervisor Chuck Struemke of the request. While the County Board received the Barsness Consulting Services report in June and voted to ask the city to rezone the property, supervisors have not agreed to sell any of the land, said Struemke.

"This does not presuppose that any land is going to be sold," replied Supervisor Daryl Standafer, North Hudson. He said voting to negotiate would just give the library foundation "a place at the table" should the county decide to sell any of the land: "If the issue moves forward, they would not be left behind."

Supervisor Ron Raymond, town of Hudson, disagreed. Allowing the library to reserve a piece of the property "is tantamount to an agreement to sell," he said.

Supervisor Sharon Norton-Bauman, Hudson, said she personally feels the land would be well used for a community library, but the board hasn't agreed to sell any of the property and shouldn't encourage the library foundation to go ahead with fundraising.

Adopting this resolution would establish an expectation, said Raymond.

He said setting up that expectation makes it hard for this County Board, or a future County Board, to say no to a sale.

A vote to postpone action until the September meeting failed on a tie vote.