December 26, 2003 at 9:29 a.m.

ECRL Branch library designs win 4-1 vote of County Board approval

ECRL Branch library designs win 4-1 vote of County Board approval
ECRL Branch library designs win 4-1 vote of County Board approval

The Chisago County Board gave approval to three schematic designs for the new branch libraries, on a 4-1 vote last week. (Commissioner Mike Robinson was the no vote. He is voting consistently not to endorse the proposed bonded capitalization program or the projects themselves.)

Chisago County Administrator John Moosey said he needed the preliminary design approval in order to pursue agreements with the cities and towns involved. Those agreements include spelling out details on extending utilities, responsibility for land acquisition and other aspects of developing the sites in Wyoming, North Branch and Chisago Lake Township (the Chisago Lakes Area Branch situated between Lindstrom and Chisago City.)

Moosey said he’s been meeting with entities participating in the branch library improvements. He reported the projects are moving right along anticipating that all three structures will be packaged for a consolidated bidding.

Randy Lindeman, Mohammed Lawal and Sara Weiner of KKE Architects displayed the designs on easels for the commissioners and about a dozen interested visitors. The commissioners heard that the branch libraries are being laid out to be “flexible” in both collections arrangement and usage.

Lawal explained that there will be a community room accessible even if the actual library isn’t open. The meeting space can be used by book groups, visiting authors, for child reading programs and for civic meetings.

Chisago County Commissioner Bob Gustafson said he wouldn’t vote to support the designs if there would be any “commercial” activity or if fees were charged for using the facility.

It was explained by the KKE spokespersons that there’s never been any planning to involve for-profit activities in these buildings. There is space laid out, with a sink and outlets, to set up a coffee-bake sale table that could be supplied by local business with volunteers offering fundraiser-refreshment sales.

Still, the County Board incorporated language in the approval disallowing any fees for using the space, and Commissioner Gustafson voted to approve with the majority.

Commissioner Robinson questioned fireplaces shown, and he was told they’ll be bid as “alternates” which means itemized costs can easily be determined for the fireplaces and can be deleted. Private sector donations could fund any “alternates” if they bring projects over cost, Robinson was advised.

Long after the architects completed their presentation and the vote was done--Chisago City Mayor Chris DuBose hung around (almost 11 p.m.) and asked for consideration of two requests for the Chisago Lakes Area library branch.

Conditional Use Permit (CUP) filing fee and fees for inspections would be paid to the county because the facility is in an unincorporated area. Payment for the fees would come out of the bonding proceeds, basically taking money out of one county pocket and putting it into another.

DuBose said if the project were located inside a city-- the group would ask for fee waiver by the city, but these are county considerations because construction takes place in a township.

The County Board voted 4-1 (Robinson no) to allow the library project to go through the county’s CUP process at no filing charge and no additional fees.

(For an update on collections, timeframe and where the first day budgets are at; see sidebar story).


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