New library location narrowed to four possible sites

WORTHINGTON – Nobles County Commissioners today listened to the pros and cons of four possible locations for a new library before deciding they needed input from the general public before a decision could be made. Nobles County Library Director Julie Wellnitz was instructed to work with Vetter Johnson Architects to prepare a public display of the four sites for display at the library and the upcoming fair booth.

The four sites include the old Campbell’s Soup lot, the current Lampert Lumber Yard, the county’s public works area or the site of the old outdoor pool.

In a letter dated May 10, one of the heirs of the E.O. Olson foundation said the family was now willing to entertain ideas from the commissioners regarding a library at the old pool and rearing pond site – something they originally rejected. According to architect Steve Johnson, the site is easily accessed, size appropriate, and the least costly of the options. There are no environmental issues and, unlike the other three locations, the site is potentially ready for use.

The Campbells site would be the costliest, in terms of development. Environmental concerns exist, with soil contamination and de-watering the excavation problematic. Johnson said there were good opportunities at the site, including high visibility and good access to trails and roads, but underground culverts and easements could hamper later expansion.

At the Lampert site, visibility is optimal and the traffic problem on the corner of 10th Street and McMillan could be improved by keeping the entrances to the site a significant distance from the corner. Issues to the site include flooding in one corner, concrete that would either have to built around or blasted out, and having to acquire a residence and the mill next to the lot to accommodate the library. There are no solid figures on what acquisition of the site would cost, but the commissioners have been told Lamperts would require a significant delay while they built a new facility.

Nobles County Public Works, located on Diagonal Road, would be the most expensive prospect, because it would require the county to build a new public works facility. While there has been talk of combining the city of Worthington’s public works with the county facilities, it isn’t something that would be done any time soon. The challenge of building the library would be remodeling the newer parts of the existing facility, Johnson said.

During an informal ranking of the sites, Commissioner Marv Zylstra said he ranked the pool site as the most appropriate, and Campbells as the least. Chair Bob Demuth said he was not willing to put forth a ranking without knowing more about acquisition costs. Commissioner Matt Widboom said he values the ranking of county residents more than his own, and suggested giving the citizens a chance to weigh in.

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