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Library gets go-ahead from county board

Commissioner Fritz Sobanja
Commissioner Fritz Sobanja

LibraryExpansion_020911.mp34.92 MB

The Grand Marais Public Library is one step closer to realizing its goal of an expanded facility. On Tuesday, Cook County Commissioners approved preliminary expansion plans to be funded with 1% sales tax money. According to librarian Linda Chappell commissioners voted to allow the library board to proceed with construction plans and bill the costs against the 1% sales tax projects.

Architectural drawings and plans cost money, and the library is tapping into 1% sales tax funds to pay for it. Library board member and county commissioner Fritz Sobanja…

Sobanja: The money has been coming in at a higher rate than we expected, which is part of the scenario that the economy is improving, the dollars being spent in Cook County are higher than they were when the referendum was passed. At that point, it was kind of a low point economically I think here and across the county, but now, that sales tax number is going up. So, there’s fundamentally enough money in the bank right now that by the time the library project would be completed, which would be in the fall of 2011. We plan on starting construction in May or June and then running throughout the summer and into the fall; roughly a 5-month construction period. But, as that money continues to come in, it would be used to pay that, so that would not have to be included into a bonding mechanism that the county will need to go through once plans are finalized for the Community Center and the other projects.

Sobanja said while there is a good draft rendering of what the building may look like when complete, the interior layout is still a work in progress.

Sobanja: The library building met in the afternoon and spent basically all of our time, two hours, just working on interior layout once again, round table discussions on where things should go and where the certain user areas, such as children or K-5 or teens or adult reading. We keep shuffling those things around and people come up with different ideas. The group, each time we meet, becomes more aware of staff’s needs, more aware of how the public uses it.

Chappell said the architects, DSGW of Duluth will work with the library board to produce final plans which will then be brought to the county board for approval to continue with 1% funding.