Council rejects Appleton library plan

Rendering of a proposed new Appleton Public Library on the Fox River Bluffs.

The plan for a new $37 million library in Appleton took a big step backward Wednesday.

The city council voted down a plan to buy the land on the Fox River Bluffs. In that deal, the city would have paid $3 million to re-locate Trinity Lutheran Church and Fox Banquets.

Almost 50 people spoke about the proposed library land deal during a crowded common council meeting.

That number was roughly split in half between support and opposition.

"As a taxpayer I'm getting very, very concerned as far as where our dollars are going and I do not believe that the bluffs site is the best site for the library," said Laura Leimer.

Most of those who opposed the bluffs site said they support improving the library, but also said the site is inaccessible and too costly.

However, those who supported the site said it was the best fit for the future library's needs and would keep future operating costs down.

"Shouldn't we choose now not to spend more money to keep running the library? Every alternative to the bluffs site would cost more to run by added service points," said Josh Dukelow.

After the debate, the council voted 8-6 against the land deal.

"I don't think truly that we have explored long and hard about doing something with our current, existing site and so there's just too many unanswered questions. Like Paul Harvey used to say, 'and now you know the rest of the story,' I had pushed all along for more of the story if we did build on that site and the information never came," said Ald. Curt Konetzke.

Mayor Tim Hanna said he was disappointed with the vote. He said the library board will need to come up with a new plan for a future library.

"They will consider their options in terms of making a recommendation to go forward. It doesn't change the need. It doesn't change all the work that was done. There is still a need that needs to be fulfilled. So we'll see where we go from here," said Hanna.

Hanna said the bluffs site is no longer on the table for a new library.

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