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Site concerns has library in standstill
Opposition to the new library being built on the far west side of the village, coming from some residents and village board members, led Roger Truttman, the village board president, to reopen talks about finding an alternative location.
NEW GLARUS - Now at 77 percent of its fund raising goal, the New Glarus Library Board is frozen in its tracks to proceed with building its $2.3 million library facility next to the Swiss Center of North America, near the corner of Durst Road and Wisconsin 39.

Opposition to the new library being built on the far west side of the village, coming from some residents and village board members, led Roger Truttman, the village board president, to reopen talks about finding an alternative location. Truttman appointed Mark Janowiak, Peg Kruse, Linda Hiland, Jody Hoesly, Wayne Duerst and himself to the committee on May 7.

The only alternative site worth pursuing right now is in Glarner Park, according to Kevin Budsberg, a village trustee assigned as the liaison to the library board. Glarner Park is situated just west of the fire department and about one block from the village hall where the library is now housed.

The site is village-owned, downtown and appears to be mostly outside of a flood plain, but nobody knows if the site will work yet, Budsberg added. The village softball diamond, used by the school district, is in the park and would have to be relocated.

The school district is now considering the idea of partnering with the village to create a replacement ball diamond. The school district facility committee and representatives of the village meet Monday to discuss the joint venture, said New Glarus School Superintendent David Strudthoff.

"Both parties seem very receptive to it," Strudthoff said Wednesday.

If the village moves the library's location to Glarner Park, a separate committee would be put together to gather details for a proposal agreeable to both parties, Strudthoff added. Moving forward into the 2013-14 school year, the school's new superintendent Jennifer Thayer will mostly likely be heading up the school's involvement in the project.

A report at the Library Board meeting Tuesday, June 11, sounded as if the school is initially interested in working with the village, Budsberg said. Earlier talks between the Strudthoff and Village Administrator Nic Owen indicated the diamonds might be near the school, but the school would like two softball fields to accommodate busy schedules and to increase construction efficiencies.

"Talk is great," Budsberg said, "but the Library Board is determined, if the village wants to change the (library) site, the village will have to pay the added costs."

That is where the "rubber meets the road," he added.

Budsberg said he called for a reaffirmation vote from the village board at its meeting April 16, "to see if the village was still behind" its $50,000 cash financial support and commitment to borrow $1 million for the library expansion project.

According to the village board minutes, Budsberg "felt it was important for the Library Board and fundraising committees to know the direction of the Village Board."

The reaffirmation failed, 4-3, with Joan Betz, Kevin Budsberg and Mark Janowiak voting in favor and Eric Gobeli, Peggy Kruse, Greg Thoemke and Roger Truttmann voting against.

Budsberg said the failed motion was surprising and disheartening.

However, regardless of the result of the vote on reaffirming, President Truttmann clarified that the original resolution from June 2012 would stand. The village board voted 5-2 on June 5, 2012, to borrow $1 million and to contribute $50,000 in cash for the new building. But before borrowing could take place, the capital campaign had to acquire $500,000 in pledged donations.

Pledged funds reached nearly $650,000 by Jan. 21, 2013, making the Library Board eligible to receive the $1 million from the village. The $50,000 cash contribution comes from the village reserve funds and a sinking fund established for the library in 2011.

Budsberg said changing the location and plans for the library concerns members of the Library Board, because donations and pledges were made on the assumption that the building the board had designed was being built on the west side. They had already bought the land with private donations accumulated in the past for that purpose.

Budsberg said it's not clear if the library board can use the new donations for another plan, even if it is for the same purpose.

Grant applications being submitted for the new library are also worrisome, if the location changes, he noted.

Fundraising efforts are still strong, and the board is getting "a lot of business support" including "partial proceeds days," Budsberg said.

Budsberg said the village still has at least two more opportunities to kill the library expansion project: By not authorizing the borrowing and by not approving the plans.

As of April, the Library Board had hopes of finalizing fundraising in June and breaking ground this fall or winter for the 10,700 sq. ft. library with 4,000 extra square feet of space - part of which would become offices for the Town of New Glarus.

The time frame for the plans have now been pushed back.

"But we are farther than we have ever been," Budsberg added.