Library expansion fundraisers to aim for $1.05M

Library expansion fundraisers to aim for $1.05M

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When library proponents kick off their fundraising campaign for a library expansion project next week, they will include the revised total project cost of $1.75 million as their goal to reach.

Originally, the project was projected to cost about $1.5 million. It has been increased to include infrastructure updates to the current building - including improvements to the library roof, heating and air conditioning and other needs.

That means the fundraising campaign will be asking the community for about $1.05 million, instead of $800,000. It will not increase the amount the city has agreed to contribute to the project.

Late last year the city pledged $400,000 toward the project, and the Bidwell Foundation has agreed to add another $300,000 in grants.

Library Board member Addie Tamboli said the increased figure reflects the library's assurance to the city that there would not be additional taxpayer costs in the near future for the building.

The Portage Library Board decided on the original figure last June and has not since discussed any increases in the project costs at their monthly meetings. The revised amount is expected to be included in fundraising campaign literature that will be distributed next week.

The public fundraising campaign for the library expansion project is expected to kick off Monday at an invitation-only event at the library that evening. The library will close early that day, at 3 p.m., to allow for setup.

New building for

Veterans Memorial Field

The city Plan Commission gave its general blessing for the installation of a new steel building at Veterans Memorial Field in a morning meeting Thursday.

The building, which would replace an existing structure, would be used for an equine announcer and concession stand in the fairgrounds area by the Columbia County Horse Club during the Columbia County Fair.

There is not expected to be any cost to the city as the horse club would foot the bill. The city will need to, however, work out an agreement for the building because it will be on city property but will be owned by the horse club.

City officials said the agreement would be similar to how the city deals with private airplane hangers on city property at the municipal airport.

The structure would likely be built on a concrete slab and would not contain insulation. It would include electricity but no other amenities. In addition to specific county fair uses, the building could also be used as storage by the club.

An existing weathered structure on the site would be torn down and removed.

The commission's only concern with the project was to urge the horse club to have the building match the aesthetic of the other buildings in the fairgrounds area.

The project was approved, pending a contractual agreement between the city and the club and other construction particulars like building permits, on a 6-0 vote.

The action was taken at a rare morning meeting of the Plan Commission. The meeting was convened at 7 a.m. Typically, the commission meets in the evening about 6 p.m.

Ad hoc committee

unlikely for canal

Work on the Portage Canal restoration project will continue this year, but it might not be easy to visualize the progress.

Mayor Ken Jahn said Thursday that most of the work this year will involve planning at the staff level and not as much in public meetings.

Jahn said he would not likely reorganize an ad hoc Canal committee for the project and that a large part of the work will be negotiations with state entities over how and when the project will move forward.

Jahn said that an ad hoc committee was not necessary at this point because the concept of the project has already been formulated. If construction costs or other events force changes to the original concept, Jahn said an ad hoc committee might then be necessary.

Funding for the project was included in the 2012 city budget largely for planning that would anticipate new construction in 2013. The only visible item that is likely to take place this year is the installation of a pedestrian bridge over the locks section of the Canal.

Most of the first of four phases of the canal restoration project was completed in the summer of 2007. The effort was continuing in 2009 when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources scheduled dredging work there, but that work was halted in favor of other state projects.

Little has progressed on the effort since that time.

The canal was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1876 and operated until 1951. The state became the owner in 1961, and the DNR became the governing authority in 1981. The canal is on the National and State Register of Historic Places.

In other business:

• Jahn said Thursday that he is gearing up to make a big announcement on a local effort to combat drug use in the area. The mayor said he has been working with the Portage Police Ken Manthey, as well as other community leaders in the region on a joint effort. Jahn said more could be made public in the coming weeks about the initiative.


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