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City still considering purchase of NMC building for police, library

The city is continuing to investigate the possibility of purchasing the former Nuclear Management Co. headquarters at the corner of First and Vine streets, Mayor Dean Knudson said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

He said the City Council is evaluating the feasibility of the police department and the Hudson Area Joint Library sharing the building, as well as talking with Xcel Energy about possibly buying the facility.

The council has twice met in closed session to discuss the possibilities, most recently on Oct. 5.

"Those talks are on-going. I don't have any announcement to make," Knudson said in returning a call from the Star-Observer.

While he declined to say anything about negotiations on a possible purchase of the building, he did say that he believes it would be feasible for the police department and library to share the building.

"We've been working on a completely different approach" to remodeling and using the building than the $10 million plan put forth by the Hudson Area Library Foundation in 2008, Knudson said. "If we go forward with this now, it will look almost nothing like that plan."

For example, the floors of the building wouldn't require the expensive reinforcement that was called for the initial proposal, according to the mayor. He said that plan assumed a building filled with seven- or eight-foot shelves stacked with books, but many libraries don't have shelves that high anymore.

But the project will have to meet some pretty tight parameters to go forward, Knudson added. He said he's told everyone involved that it will have to be accomplished without increasing the city tax rate or the library tax.

Library Board President Jim O'Connor on Monday gave his support to the investigation.

"Personally, I think to occupy part of the building as a tenant would be an improvement in what we can offer the public. Personally, I'm in favor of it," O'Connor said.

He said he's confident that the Hudson Area Joint Library Board would "seriously entertain" moving the library to the building.

"But it's all speculative at this point, until the city gives an answer on purchasing the building," O'Connor said.

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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