Building A New Library
March 18, 2010 7:08 PM
After trying hard to reach a compromise, the Fiore/Irgens team and the city agreed this afternoon that we would not move forward on their proposal to build a new Central Library on West Washington Ave. Instead, Library Board President Tripp Widder and I will ask the board and the Common Council to go with a rebuilding of the library on its current site.
There is no bad guy in this story. Bill Kunkler and his team negotiated in good faith and tried hard to make it work, and so did we. But it was a complex proposal from the start with lots of moving parts. In the end, we just couldn't reach agreement.
So, while I'm disappointed, I'm also excited about the prospect for a great library on the current site. We believe we can do it at a lower cost and roughly on the same timeline. We will need to count on less private fundraising in a tight environment for philanthropy. And because we'll use the existing superstructure of the building, we are essentially recycling it. The greenest building is the one you rebuild.
What we should not do is go back to square one. Looking for other sites would be way too time consuming, difficult and costly. I don't think that will be necessary because my initial discussions with alders have been very positive on the reconstruction. That's not surprising. After all, it was really the council that asked us to look at the reconstruction as a baseline to measure the other proposals against, and I know that many alders will be more comfortable with the lower costs.
Things don't always work out as planned, but if we stay flexible and look for the openings, we usually can find a solution. That's the way to look at this situation. If we move quickly to the rebuild, we'll have a great new Central Library on time and on budget and on the current site.