Hudson Library winter rtsa

Hudson Area Public Library, 700 First Street. 

The Hudson Common Council began discussing the future of the Hudson Area Public Library at its Monday, March 20 meeting. 

Alderperson Joy Knudson and City Administrator Aaron Reeves brought forward a few ideas on how to get the ball rolling. 

The Hudson Area Public Library will be turning into a single, municipal library in 2024 after a vote by its partners - the village of North Hudson, town of Hudson and town of St. Joseph - to exit the joint agreement.

Though no action was taken, other than to revisit the conversation at an upcoming board meeting, Knudson and her fellow representatives began discussing the modifications that will be necessary to the library board. 

One idea was to create a sort of ad hoc library committee, which would turn into the municipal library board in 2024.

The committee could consist of up to nine members with the possibility of two members being non-city residents.  

“I’m not coming to you with a strong feeling either way. I think what we want to do is make sure that Hudson city residents understand what's going on, what’s going to happen, the tax implications for them as Hudson city residents,” Knudson said. “We need to decide what we can do and be financially responsible to our taxpayers and make the right decisions going forward.” 

The current joint library board has eight members from all four partners. 

“Maybe for continuity's sake, if for nothing else,” Mayor Rich O’Connor said about having non-city residents on the proposed committee. “We need to acknowledge that the patronage for our library is coming from, in a great way, from outside the residents or the boundaries of our city.” 

He also acknowledged that out-of-city residents strongly contribute to the funds through the library foundation. 

The mayor implied he would be inclined to appoint some current library board members to the committee, overlapping the two bodies, and furthering that transition between joint board and municipal board. 

The goal of the committee would be to advise the board, as opposed to being a strong decision making power. They would provide input to the current board on major decisions such as budget and policy, but come 2024, that committee would turn into the new library board.  

The role of the library board is to control the collection, donation and appropriation of funds for the library fund as well as exclusively control public library expenditures, lands, buildings and properties for library purposes. 

Supervision of the administration of the library is conducted by this board as well. The board appoints a librarian and the librarian appoints additional staff.

Council is expected to return to this conversation at its next regular board meeting, Monday, April 17. 

Shared ride service 

A shared ride transportation service is long awaited in Hudson. 

And it’s still not fully here. 

But at the Monday meeting, council voted to begin to supplement the current county transportation services while the city plans for a more robust offering in the coming years. 

My Car On Call service will provide rides Monday through Thursday, 11-5 p.m.; and Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Currently, the county offers services Monday through Thursday mornings, leading staff at Hudson to choose the hours they did. 

At this time, the services will only be available to the elderly and disabled populations of Hudson. 

“Our goal is long term… It’s available to everyone,” Reeves said. 

The council previously approved $30,000 of federal relief funds to this temporary transit service plan. Once those funds are gone, they will need to reevaluate. In the meantime, Reeves will keep the council up to date on how things are panning out. 

Short-term rental

The council revisited the short-term rental ordinance and complaint hearing process updated by the city’s legal team, clarifying various parts of the statute. 

In February, the council was presented with updates on the short-term rental ordinance. The suggestions from its legal council were to include language encouraging parties involved to attend public hearings after a complaint has been filed and the council deemed a hearing necessary. This ensures costs and fees are recovered if the complainant or the short-term rental owner fails to appear in front of council. 

Though seemingly in favor of this change to the ordinance in February, the council looked for a bit more, asking staff to return with a few more additions.

Before voting on the updates, council asked that an outline of action the council could take on short-term rental ordinance violations be included. Those additions were presented and approved at the Monday, March 20 meeting. 

In the case of a short-term rental complaint, the council will first determine if the complaint warrants a hearing or if they will dismiss it. 

Second, they may take action, including but not limited to modifying the licensee’s existing short-term rental license conditions; imposing new conditions on the short-term rental license; imposing fines or fees upon the licensee; or revoking the licensee’s short- term rental license.

Reconstruction projects

Plans have been completed for three major improvement projects – Laurel Avenue, the city hall parking lot and Lakefront Park trail improvements. 

The Laurel Avenue project includes reclaiming the asphalt pavement from Blakeman Drive to Eleventh Street and placing a new surface, replacing storm sewer structures, spot curb repair and manhole adjustments.

The city hall parking lot project includes asphalt removal and replacement along with adjacent sidewalk replacement.

The Lakefront Park trail project includes asphalt removal and replacement of the multi-use trail behind the bandshell from Walnut Street to the beach house parking lot. Currently, the trail is 8-feet-wide and will be expanded to 10-feet, meeting industry and design standards.

These three projects will collectively cost about $635,000. 

The project will be paid for through the Capital Improvement Plan, stormwater utility and grant funds. 

Council approved

  • the purchase of a new fire engine to replace the current 18-year-old one. By the time of the delivery of a new one, it will be nearly 20. Fire engines are expected to last at least 10-15 years in frontline service, or more with low response volume and excellent maintenance, according to  Fire Chief Drew Spielman. The cost of the fire engine is over $880,000 with an additional over $16,300 worth of communication equipment for the rig. There is no impact on the budget as these funds will be sourced from the 2023-24 bond issue. 

  • St. Croix Meadows submitted a conditional use permit to construct single family housing north of the existing Park Place Village and southwest of the St. Croix Meadows district. The permit allows for flexible design standards as agreed upon by the city and developer. It would also remove two portions of land from the existing St. Croix Meadows district. 

  • changes to comply with federal and state law updated in 2019 and 2022, respectively, and to increase the legal age of purchase and possession of tobacco from 18 to 21 years old.  

  • funding for all items, except the public works facility, in the previously approved 2023-24 Capital Improvement Plan. The public works facility project will not be going out to bid until late summer or early fall. The bonding for that project will happen in 2024. 

‘Under one roof’

Updated Operation Help rendering

Operation Help and the Hudson Food and Backpack Program building rendering.  

The Star-Observer previously ran an article about a public hearing for a building project with Operation Help and the Hudson Area Food and Backpack Program. This public hearing was canceled. Tim Puffer and Bjorn Nesvold, leaders in the two programs, spoke to council to reiterate the continued plans to move into the old Norlake building downtown, implying they would be back before the council to discuss rezoning the lot next month.

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