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NEWS STORIES

The City of Eagle River could give up ownership of Olson Memorial Library propertySubmitted: 07/02/2014

Lauren Stephenson
5 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
lstephenson@wjfw.com

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EAGLE RIVER - The City of Eagle River wants to reduce its involvement with the Olson Memorial Library.

The city council, on Monday, voted unanimously to give the library property to another local town if it wants it.

The Eagle River City Council disagrees with the library's board and foundation on whether they need to get design bids for the library's remodeling project.

That project includes an addition that would double the size of the library.

The library's board hopes to buy the renovation plans designed by Jeff Visner of Design/Build by Visner.

Board members say professional projects like designs don't need to be bid out.

The foundation got more than $2.5 million in donations based on those plans.

"Our major donors donated on the plan that we showed them which was Design/Build by Visner and they are becoming increasingly unhappy that with the fact that we are now looking for other designs," said Library Board of Trustees president Laurie Stoegbauer.

But the city council says they need to take bids for the project.

"The city has been torn by this decision. We have the opinion of two attorneys that tell us we need to bid the entire project. The trustees and the foundation believe they have the ability to control some of this project. We're not going to go against the advice of our attorneys. We want the library to go forward so for the sake of no longer having that split, we've decided to step back," said Eagle River City Council member Jerry Burkett.

The library board will now approach the towns of Lincoln, Washington, Conover, Cloverland, St. Germain, and Arbor Vitae to see if they'd like to take over ownership of the property. Those towns are part of the joint library system.

"We're optimistic. They've all been very supportive and the City has been very supportive in the past. They have supported our library for years," said Stoegbauer.

If another town decides to take the library, the City of Eagle River would still be a contributing member of the joint library system.

The library serves about 14,000 people.

Stoegbauer says the library will seek bids for the construction.

The city clerk/treasurer will no longer serve as the library's fiscal agent as of August 15th, meaning the board may need to find a new owner and fiscal agent by then.

The city council, library board, and library foundation members all agree giving the property over to a town would be a good step.

They say they all want the library project to move forward.

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