Two 1% sales tax projects take next planning steps

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The Grand Marais Public Library expansion program and Birch Grove Center outdoor recreation project have been funded with 1% sales tax dollars for design planning.
 
Last month the Cook County board approved $11,000 for the West End group to work with the University of Minnesota Center for Changing Landscapes to come up with an architectural design. Commissioners also approved $60,000 for the library to work with its architectural design team.
Librarian Linda Chappell:
 
Chappell: We’re going to be working with DSGW architects out of Duluth. Two main people on the job have met with the library board and the library building committee. They are starting with doing a little bit of community research. We’re having several focus groups where people from various parts of the county will come and talk with them about needs for library service in Cook County.
 
The second phase of the proposed $800,000 expansion will center on putting the public input into working designs.
 
Chappell: They will present several concept drawings and come up with a finalized design hopefully by the end of the year. What we’re shooting for is to renovate the current library and add a 3,000 square foot addition, probably onto the south and the east side of the library.
 
Chappell said once the plans are finalized the library board will return to the county board to request approval of the plan and seek approval for funding the entire project with 1% sales tax money.
 
On the West End, Commissioner Bruce Martinson said the group from the University will provide architectural and site plans for the recreation facility. Martinson said new equipment will be installed and the Birch Grove Center group has already committed money to the project
 
Martinson: They plan on putting in new playground equipment, a new tennis court and also a new hockey rink. We’re talking probably about $450,000, but they’re contributing about $60,000, for what they’ve paid for services to date which includes survey work, soil pouring, the cost of parking lot improvements.
 
The planning and design money has already been collected through the 1% sales tax. When these projects receive more funding it will likely be through bonding against the projected $20 million income from the sales tax. Martinson said the Birch Grove Center recreation project is on a fast track.
 
Martinson: They’re hoping to start construction this coming summer.

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