If Potosi Can Do It...
November 15, 2009 1:49 PM
Frank Fiorenza is a visionary. The long-term Village President (people prefer to call him the Mayor) of Potosi fought to get the National Brewery Museum in his community of 730 souls tucked into the far southwest corner of Wisconsin, a stone's throw from the Mississippi River.
He was up against brew city giants like St. Louis and Milwaukee, but tiny Potosi won the prize and the museum opened in June of 2008. It gave new life to the old Potosi Brewery, a gorgeous iconic building in the center of town and a building that reminds me a lot of our own Garver Feed Mill. And in only its first year the museum has brought 30,000 visitors to Potosi and the regional economic impact has been huge. It's part of an even bigger plan Frank has to make Potosi a destination, including a bird watching tower on the Mississippi and a few other similarly visionary ideas.
But as I chatted with Frank and his wife Mary over dinner on Saturday night at the museum's fine classic Wisconsin supper club restaurant, the real gleam in his eye was for the library he brought to town recently. Potosi had no library at all until Frank got one installed behind the fire station.
It got me thinking about our own Central Library and I have to agree with Frank. Whatever else I might get done in whatever time I get to have this great job, I'll probably always rank the new Central Library as something I'm most happy about.
It's also amazing to realize that the Brewery Museum is a $9 million project in a community of just over 700 people. Our own library project is a $37 million project in a city of 225,000. Potosi making a $9 million project happen would be like Madison building a $2.7 billion project. So, for those who doubt Madison can pull off the $10 million in private fundraising needed to make our new Central Library really special, just go talk to my friend in Potosi, Frank Fiorenza. He makes me look like a piker.