Appleton library considers site for relocation

Appleton Library
Appleton Library

APPLETON - The Appleton Public Library is considering a nearly $40 million relocation project, but the potential site for the new facility has some community members upset.

Appleton's library board voted unanimously Tuesday to look at rebuilding downtown by the area known as Fox River bluffs.  This decision came after a two-year study on the library's future needs.

Library Director Colleen Rortvedt told FOX 11, board members looked at about a dozen different sites.

"The site came out just heads and tails above the others. There's just a potential for so much development downtown with the library going in this area," Rortvedt explained.

But the problem with the chosen site? Two existing buildings - Trinity Lutheran Church and Fox Banquets-Rivertyme Catering - would need to go if the library decides to move in.

Several Trinity parishioners spoke out against using the site at Tuesday's board meeting.

"I've been a member ever since I was baptized there. Our 100-year anniversary is next year and I'm very sad that they would want to tear our building down. It's very historic," said Peggy Hoppe.

Hoppe also described work the church does to help feed the hungry downtown, work she said could be compromised if the church had to move.

FOX 11 also spoke with Fox Banquets, which has been in its location 28 years.

Secretary-Treasurer Ken Pearson told us he loves this spot on the river bluffs, but is trying to stay positive.

"It's a business transaction and we have to look at it on that base and keep emotion out of it, because we have to make good decisions for our company and people and so does the city," Pearson explained.

Rortvedt said this is not meant as a hostile takeover by the city, saying leaders will try to accommodate those affected.

"To make sure that this is really the best choice. There will be analysis, working closely with the property owners to make sure we have a solution that's really agreeable for everybody," she said.

Rortvedt told us at this point it's not a done deal, because more research needs to be done, like parking and traffic analyses.

A projected cost for the project is just under $40 million. According to Rortvedt, that money would need to come from both the city budget and private donors.

The city council will also need to approve the library relocation before it's a done deal.

If approved, construction could start in 2016.