Our view: Renovate, don't build new library


That colloquialism is how Metropolis Council member Sandi Marshall described potential efforts to renovate the town’s present public library. It is an previous constructing, and we have toured it. We have seen its inconvenient format, small assembly rooms and lack of up to date infrastructure.

However all issues thought-about, we expect it should do as a result of we aren’t in favor of constructing a brand new library — whether or not downtown, mid-city or anyplace else.

The difficulty has been revisited in Grand Forks, particularly at a current assembly of the Metropolis Council. Two years in the past, we figured it was a foregone conclusion that a new library can be erected, and probably downtown. However the metropolis has had larger considerations, corresponding to pushing a brand new gross sales tax to assist pay for infrastructure prices, together with street repairs. That a lot-wanted increase was authorised by voters final yr, however solely with reassurance that it might not be diverted to assist pay for a brand new library. That was telling.

Now, chilly financial winds are swirling. Gross sales-tax income in Grand Forks is down four.5 % over the previous yr.

Metropolis residents are paying for a brand new water remedy plant and property tax payments are on the rise after the state moved away from its property tax buydown. Additionally, there are talks of constructing new faculties, though the Faculty Board insists these discussions are merely “situations” in the mean time.

We simply do not consider the group has the urge for food to pay tens of tens of millions of presumed public dollars for a model new library that — because of know-how — many really feel might grow to be out of date within the coming many years.

If an extended, devoted fundraising marketing campaign can produce sufficient personal dollars to pay for the majority of a brand new library, maybe it might change our minds. However we doubt that would occur anytime quickly.

We are saying hold the present constructing and renovate it in levels, even when it is over the subsequent 10 or 20 years. The library has about $2 million available—between working reserves, capital reserves and a $675,000 present. It additionally has nice wants, as beforehand talked about, and people wants have prompted library employees to rightly ask the town for steerage.

It is time to get artistic with the previous constructing — certainly, lipstick on a pig — within the type of roof repairs, infrastructure enhancements, enlargement and maybe even shopping for adjoining land to type a type of campus. It’ll take time; personal cash should nonetheless be pursued.

However first, the town should determine: Construct new or renovate? The library board deserves to know ahead of later so its members can…



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