County to take next step in plans for new library
WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners took another step forward in the process of bringing a new library to Worthington during their meeting on Tuesday.
The library issue has been discussed for several years, a needs assessment was completed in 2009 and commissioners have even toured other libraries throughout Minnesota to get ideas. Still, there has been no purchase of land, no designs to ponder and no move by the county to set money aside for construction.
Nobles County Library Director Julie Wellnitz and Plum Creek Library System Director Mark Ranum want to see that change -- they want to see progress made -- and they came before commissioners with a request to spend $15,000 on the next phase of library planning. The money, approved by commissioners, will be used for estimates, civil engineer and architectural costs, as well as soil borings on one site in particular that has been identified as a possible location for a new library.
Wellnitz said she and Ranum, along with Vijay Sethi, interim Nobles County Administrator, met with representatives from the city a week ago to reopen the dialogue about a new library and expressed the city's stance of strong support and excitement for a new library.
The city, however, needs to know that the county supports plans for a new library and will contribute financially, she said.
"We all talk about this, and then we stop," said Commissioner Diane Thier, a representative on the library board. "I think we have to move forward, and this is the next step. If we aren't serious, then we should take it off the table."
"It is so, so refreshing to hear that the city is willing to participate in this project," said Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. "A year ago, the meeting did not end on a positive approach."
Sethi said city representatives are still interested, but they wanted another site or two to be explored, and they also asked about the potential to build up -- perhaps a two-story building -- rather than out to keep everything on one level.
"If we are to move forward, those two issues need to be addressed," Sethi said. "We need to make sure we don't put our eggs in one basket and then something doesn't work out. What came out of that meeting is we need to keep our options open."
Ranum encouraged the board to have at least one option on the table with the cost for the building project.
"This project has gone on long enough," he said. "The county has to be not just careful, but considerate, in working with the city."
Ranum said he viewed the library project as a project to bring the community back together and see both the city and the county work hand in hand.
Commissioner Marv Zylstra agreed.
"We've wracked our brains to find a location downtown," Zylstra said. "Now it's time to pull the pieces together, pull the players together and move forward. Now it's time to take the test and see where we're at, and yet, remain visionary."
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.