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July 8, 2020

5/29/2020 8:51:00 AM
Library project on hold....for now

When you put your heart and soul into something you want to not only see it through but leave it better than it was when you started.
That is what Dodgeville Public Library director Vickie Stangel wants to see as she moves toward retirement. She is not interested in making that move just yet but it is in her future plans.
One thing Vickie has learned during her years at the library is that it is out of room, not only for the number of publications but for the actual room that is needed to adequately serve the community. For the past couple years she has been doing her best to remedy that with a proposed building project that would relocate the library to the Springate Mall area and allow the City of Dodgeville to expand into the upper part of the building they both share.
Recently, City of Dodgeville voters gave approval for spending up to $7,000,000 on a new facility and Vickie was waiting for the City to begin meeting to set the project in motion. All was good except for one thing....COVID-19, the Corona Virus.
Besides being a virus that renders those who catch it very sick and worse it also shut down the economy with stay at home orders and the shuttering of "non-essential" businesses. Schools were also closed for the rest of the year.
Even with businesses slowly reopening the return to normal, whatever that will be, is predicted to be a. long way off.
Last Tuesday Vickie received the news she was expecting but was hoping would not happen. The City Council announced that the project is on an indefinite hold. Mayor Todd Novak said the decision was made because of the uncertainty of the economy as businesses reopen and people get back to work.
This is the second time the project was put on hold which Vickie feels is something she hopes her board understands.
"So far the library board has funded everything," Vickie said. "It is hard to get things started and then have to stop."
She adds that the city has not had to put in any money to date.
Vickie had just finished a virtual conference meeting with the Southwest Library group and learned that all of them are waiting for direction from their village or city for what steps they need to take. Right now everyone is following state rules.
For the Dodgeville Library it has been a busy time meeting the needs of its users.
"Our Book and Bag It program is working very well," said Vickie. "It just seems to keep growing."
She also said while there will be no big crowds that the plan is to slowly keep adding services.
As for the building project, it will be on hold until the city wants to address it again.
As for Vickie, "I would like to be in the building phase by next year so when I retire we can attract a certified librarians to take over."
She would hope the new library could become more community oriented with a large conference room that could be used as a meeting place.
"So much more could be done in the library if we had the space," she said.
Mayor Novak said the decision to put the project on hold was not an easy one to make.
"Vickie and the library board have put many years and hours of planning by the library board for a new library," Novak said. "The fact still remains the library is still overcrowded and having a functioning library and city hall in the same building is not the best situation."
But further progress will have to wait until the overall picture of the local economy becomes more clear.
"In the current environment with COVID-19, we needed to put a pause on the project for financial reasons,"noted Novak. "The city has a good fund balance so I think we will be able to weather this storm. But our concern is for the financial condition of our taxpayers, some who are unemployed and we have many businesses that have been closed and are slowly reopening.'
Novak added that the city's major employer, Lands' End, which is about 20% of the cities property tax base is also starting to re-open.
"In conversations, I've had with CEO Jerome Griffiths he is optimistic they will have a rebound," said Novak. "In the end we felt there is a lot of uncertainty out there and we wanted to put a pause on the library project to get a lay of the landscape next year. "

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