The Hudson Common Council has begun to make decisions regarding the new phase of the library.
At the Monday, May 1, meeting, the council voted to accept applications for appointments to the 2024 library board. On Jan. 1, 2024, the library will no longer be joint between the city of Hudson, the village of North Hudson, the town of St. Joseph and the town of Hudson.
It will be a municipal, city of Hudson operated library, as the city’s three partners previously voted to withdraw from the arrangement.
The first in many decisions yet to be made was about the board.
As part of the transition, the library board will move from the current joint library structure to a city only library board. This requires new appointments.
The council voted to make the appointments in full. The new board will serve as an ad hoc committee, providing input to the current library board on major decisions like budget and policy, before becoming the new library board in 2024.
Mayor Rich O’Connor will make the appointments to be approved by council.
“There will be reappointments,” he said. Those folks will not only be helpful in transition, they’ve voiced interest in continuing to work with the library and city during this exciting time of transition, O’Connor said.
As transitions begin, the goal is to set the new library board up for success.
“I want them more involved with the library board side of things,” City Administrator Aaron Reeves said. “That’s where they’re going to step in and take their role, not the council side.”
A separate proposal had been brought forward by Alderperson Joy Knudson to just appoint three members to an advisory board during the transition period, as opposed to the full board to serve as an ad hoc committee.
“We have limited roles, but I think it's our responsibility to take those roles seriously,” Knudson said. The council has a role in appointing the board as well as determining how much funding it will provide each year; however, the library board is able to decide what they will do with those funds.
Knudson’s proposal was to have three appointments serve as an advisory committee, working with the library board, but also reporting back to the council with thoughts, ideas and recommendations.
Reeves differentiated between the proposal of the ad hoc committee recommended by the mayor and staff, and the advisory committee presented by Knudson.
He said the staff recommended the full appointment in order to get the new library board going and acclimated.
Knudson’s proposal, he said, focuses on helping the council make decisions regarding the new library structure.
There are still decisions yet to come regarding the new library board structure, including the exact number of people that will be on the board and if they will all be residents of the city of Hudson.
There will be a representative appointed by the school district and funding will determine how many representatives the county will be able to appoint.
Staff does not see the need to amend the city code related to the library at this time and will address this with council prior to the end of the year.
Knudson had presented library city code amendments which were not voted on by council.
Past library board president Roy Sjoberg made a statement during public comment at the beginning of the council meeting.
“This community is ready,” he said. “It’s ready to support [the library].”
Public works and parks director Mike Mroz presented the council with an annual update on the MS4, a permit required of the city designed to reduce the amount of sediment and other pollutants entering state waters from stormwater systems.
He began by showing a short video, created to demonstrate the importance of MS4 permits in protecting waterways.
The goal of the MS4 permit is to reduce the discharge of pollutants carried into stormwater waters of the state.
In 2012, the stormwater utility was created to help maintain this initiative. In 2022, the city revenue from the utility was about $538,423. All stormwater utility funds are put back into stormwater management. The 2022 expenses were about $514,155.
There are a number of elements the city tracks throughout the year to comply with the permit and use the utility funds to operate.
The first is public education, which Mroz’s presentation falls under. The department also participates in Riverfest and Earth Day to help promote education about the MS4 and stormwater management.
Illicitdischarge is another element to track. In Hudson there are 34 reserves that “daylight” into public waters (the St. Croix and Lake Mallalieu). In 2022, there were no incidents, but Mroz asks that if you ever see a strange color or consistency coming from a stormwater drain to contact the public works department immediately.
The city is responsible for managing post construction stormwater through pond maintenance and inspections. There are a number of complete restoration projects that the department will be working on to beautify them, but also dredge out sediment to make them more effective.
Construction site pollution control is monitored. The city requires permits and manages construction sites over 1 acre. They inspect sites once a month or as needed. In 2022, there were seven sites that qualified for this permit.
To keep pollution out of waterways, the public works department collected 375 cubic yards of street swept debris in 2022. This For comparison, Mroz said that in Chippewa Falls, where they use a combination of salt and sand on the roads in the winter, collected 1,000 cubic yards. Hudson strictly uses salt. The city is also cleans its catch basins, which collect debris over time.
Should grocers sell alcohol?
The council took up a discussion on liquor sales in grocery stores at its Monday, April 24 meeting. No action was taken, but the council began discussing the options to move forward.
“Staff has been contacted by multiple grocery store developers and each of them have requested to be allowed to sell liquor in the stores,” city administrator Aaron Reeves said.
Currently, Hudson restricts Class A liquor sales, or off-sale liquor licenses, in Hudson. There is one license available per 2,500 residents.
The proposed ordinance would exempt grocers from that quota.
Should this exemption pass, it would apply to current grocers, not only new developments.
A public hearing and further conversation is set to take place at the regular council meeting, Monday, May 15.
Even if an ordinance is passed allowing exceptions on liquor licenses for grocery stores, there is no guarantee they’ll develop here, Reeves said.
Many council members voiced initial hesitations about exempting grocers from the limited number of liquor licenses Hudson currently offers.
Alderperson Joyce Hall made comments on how local liquor stores are community contributors, offering donations and support to organizations, like Rotary. She also commented on the potential burden this could place on law enforcement.
“There are some tough questions here,” Mayor Rich O’Connor said.
Council approved the issuance, sale and delivery of a $3.44 million general obligation promissory note and a $4.77 million general obligation corporate purpose bond at its May 1 meeting. “Can you put some money in there for the library?” Alderperson Randy Morrissette II joked as the presentation on the bonds began.
A public hearing date was set at the April 24 meeting for June 19 regarding a rezoning application from Operation Help and Studio EA. Proposed modifications are for the former Norlake building downtown into a multi-use office space and center for nonprofit organizations.
The council set a special meeting to discuss how staff prioritizes projects in the Capital Improvement Plan on Monday, May 8, at 6 p.m. This meeting was delayed to allow the new city engineer, Erin Anderson, to get started and be able to provide her input.
Jim Frye, Hudson utilities lead water operator, was recognized for receiving the 2023 Wisconsin Rural Water Operator of the Year award. Since 1989, Wisconsin Rural Water Association has recognized operators in the state of Wisconsin that demonstrate excellence in the water and wastewater industries. This award is presented to certified operators that work for Wisconsin Rural Wisconsin Association member systems to maintain regulatory compliance, protect the environment and provide excellent service to their customers. Frye has been an intricate part of Hudson utilities since he first started working in the city over 43 years ago. As lead operator, supervises seven full-time staff, oversees numerous construction projects, sampling, customer questions, well rehabs, tower rehabs, project reviews, budget purchases, equipment maintenance, system maintenance including valve and hydrant exercising, and GIS review to name a few.
Council approved the follow up review of Riverfront Properties Inc. final development plans for 22 First St., formerly 106 Buckeye St. The proposal removes the existing building and develops a new 4-story structure with both office and condominium space. The applicant hosted a neighborhood meeting in February 2020 following which 12 letters of support from neighboring businesses and property owners were received by city staff. Current plans include three to four dwelling units on floors two through four and two commercial units on the first floor.
Thank you Hannah for this excellent article that informs us about what is happening in city government. Please keep up this type of reporting as both the citizens and the city government will be better off with more informed citizens that understand how our city government works and how they are working to make Hudson a great place to live.
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