Residents near the existing Waunakee Public Library on South Street will soon be notified of a survey seeking their preference for that building’s new user once the new North Madison Street library opens in August.
At last week’s Waunakee Village Board meeting, officials discussed the library sale and how best to solicit residents’ feedback.
An online survey will be prepared and notification of it sent to a broad area surrounding the South Street building, said Kevin Even, village engineer. Printed copies of the survey will also be available, Even said.
Several potential users remain interested, Village Administrator Todd Schmidt told the board. One has been Mill House Quilts, and recently Waunakee school district officials.
“They’re evaluating the site for potential interest,” Schmidt said of the Waunakee school board, adding six or seven other potential users have emerged.
Another option could be selling the village hall and moving administrative operations into the South Street building, Schmidt said.
Village President Chris Zellner asked if discussions with school district officials had taken place and whether the sale would go to referendum.
Schmidt said the initial discussions of the library sale building a few years ago came on the heels of the school district’s last referendum.
With the passage of time, school district officials are now within a year to a year and half of the next facility planning process, Schmidt added.
“The challenge for us is, we’re moving to a new library Aug. 1,” Schmidt said, adding that the building could be vacant for some time.
Waunakee school board members planned to tour the building prior to their meeting Monday, Randy Guttenberg, school district superintendent, told the Tribune last week, but the decision process could take time.
“I think their level of interest will depend on a conversation of space needs and availability as we start to flesh out our facility plans in a couple of months,” Guttenberg said, noting the option of purchasing the building is at an “exploratory level.”
“I think the question of where it fits with within a financial plan is probably too early to state,” he said.
If school board members are interested in the building, they will have to consider the cost of its purchase and needed renovations, along with the operational costs, Guttenberg said.
Zellner wondered if the village would want to carry the vacant library cost for a prolonged period. While the vacant building’s operational costs would be minimal, the village has put an $850,000 placeholder in its building plan for the new library construction, Meinholz said. It will carry that debt until the sale.
Zellner raised another question.
“I’d like to have the school district buy it, but what happens if they take it to referendum and the school district [voters] says no?” he asked.
Zellner asked if the village should put the building to bid or allow the school district to decide.
Trustees said they would feel more comfortable deciding after learning nearby residents’ opinions