On March first, the Whitewater Common Council held a meeting to cover a range of topics including a possible library expansion and a new chastity for an ambulance.
Whitewater’s current public library is located at 431 W. Center St., near the downtown area. The library is rather small and the Library Board and Staff have been working towards expanding the library in some manner, for several years. University of Wisconsin Whitewater student and avid reader, Carly Siewert, said “The library is way too small. They have like three books.”
According to the Library Board and Staff, “Current facilities lack sufficient space for storage, collection materials, and gathering/programming space.” Unfortunately projections estimate that any expansion onto the current building would be around $10 million. This is not possible with the current budget. However, other options are being explored by Library Board and Staff, in an effort to lower the cost. They held a meeting with Troy Hoekstra of United Development Solutions and discussed combining the library construction project with a large hotel development. This could mean possibly moving the current library to another location, but would make the construction much more affordable.
The funding for the project would be financed by public sources, private equity investment, and new market tax credits. New market tax credits is a program that was established to spur developers to build in low-income communities. The program gives tax credit incentives to investors for equity investments.
A similar development is currently being constructed in Platteville, Wisconsin, which is expected to be completed in March of new year. This method of financing would result in the City getting the new library for a good amount less than the cost to build it.
The board did not have to make a decision this meeting, but still spent around forty five minutes discussing the topic. Council member Stephanie Goettl said that the city has been wanting a new hotel as well, but they “Have to be careful when approaching the greatest deal.” There was some concern on the location of the new library and possible hotel, which has not been decided yet.
The second big item discussed at the meeting was the addition of a high strength waste receiving station, which is part of the Whitewater Waste Treatment Plant upgrade project.
This project would include the construction of an all concrete twenty five thousand gallon tank and cover and other equipment and utilities necessary. According to the Assistant City Manager, “This improvement will allow high strength waste (HSW) from outside sources to be pumped into existing city digesters.”
The addition of this high strength receiving station would generate methane gas that would be used to heat water for several utility buildings.
Several options were discussed at the meeting regarding the addition. The one that was discussed the most was a possible contract with Baker Tilly to find a joint venture, which would cost between ten thousand and sixty thousand dollars. Cameron Clapper, the City Manager, said they did not have enough knowledge to turn it down. Board member, Ken Kidd, responded saying, “So far they’re pretty greedy.” The addition was rejected in a vote five to two.