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Foundation continues to gather information on library proposal

The Hudson Area Library Foundation is continuing to gather information and facts that they hope will persuade local governments and voters to support a new Hudson library at the corner of First and Vine streets in the former NMC building.

Since the non-binding referendum in April that showed widespread support of the so-called "Lakefront Library," the foundation has been working on several fronts including negotiations with Xcel Energy to acquire the building, determining the cost to refit it for library use and operate it, and identifying philanthropic support for the project.

According to foundation vice president Bye Barsness, that means working with the city of Hudson, the village of North Hudson and the towns of Hudson, St. Joseph and Troy to get them accurate information about what the project will cost.

To that end, the foundation has hired an architectural firm, BKV of Minneapolis, the original architect of the building, to develop a floor plan and get detailed costs for necessary remodeling, equipment and furnishings needed to outfit the new 30,000-square-foot library. The most current estimate of the cost to acquire and refit the building, as well as add inventory, is $9.6 million.

They have also developed a preliminary operating budget which appears consistent with the cost to run similar sized libraries around the state. That budget is estimated at $1.1 million a year.

Barsness said the results of the philanthropic feasibility study conducted by the foundation are encouraging. After interviewing a number of potential donors from throughout the St. Croix Valley, he called the response "very positive." He believes their original estimate, that half of the total cost of the project could be raised through donations, is feasible based on the interviews conducted.

Barsness said the municipalities will all be considering placing a question on the November ballot that will seek binding financial support for the project. A referendum would be necessary in most of the municipalities involved in order to override the 2 percent levy increase limit for new operating expenses.

The foundation plans to get more detailed information to the communities involved in the Hudson Area Joint Library in the coming weeks and months. This fall they plan to schedule at least one open house at the building so that the public can see it as well as the plans to turn it into a library.

Barsness said, "Our goal is to present the communities involved with a turn-key project that they can say yes to. Our job is to identify issues, find answers and raise private funds that with public support will make that happen."

For more information on the new Lakefront Library effort, go to

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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