The Downtown Coordinating Committee adopted a formal position Thursday opposing the redevelopment of the current Central Library and to urge the city to reconsider the initial proposal of a new facility at a new location.
The position statement asks the city to allot an appropriate period of time to meet with the original development team, Fiore-Irgens, to establish a true cost comparison between the new library and the renovations of the current site.
“The position statement frames properly what the DCC’s role within this planning process had been,” committee Vice Chair Sarah Reiter said. “It focuses on the benefits to the downtown [area] the Fiore project would bring.”
However, the city is currently looking at a change in direction.
Ald. Bryon Eagon, District 8, said a textual budget amendment changes the City Council’s focus of approval. The amendment allows funding for design teams to redevelop the current site rather than continuing with the initial proposal.
While Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, shares the DCC’s disappointment over the fallout of the original plans, he said it is important to move forward with new library plans.
“I’m coming to peace with the direction that the city is now very likely going, which is to build a new library on the site of the current building,” Verveer said. “I think there are many positives. It will provide more square footage than the Fiore proposal and cost less money.”
Verveer said phrases like ‘renovation’ or ‘rehabilitation’ are inappropriate for defining the central library plans.
A third floor will be added and the building will essentially be gutted, keeping only the infrastructure from the current library, Verveer said. He added the remodeling would still provide the city with a state of the art building.
Eagon said while a beautiful, state of the art facility could be rebuilt on the current site, there is greater economic and development opportunities at the initial proposed library’s site on West Washington Avenue.
Members of the DCC agreed with Eagon’s sentiment. Of those who voted, the endorsement of the position statement opposing the remodeling of the current library passed unanimously.
Campus safety and the Yahara high-speed rail station were among other items the committee discussed.
Eagon said the Associated Students of Madison has been working with city representatives to raise awareness about lighting efforts to increase campus safety. The city has a downtown residential lighting grant program that reimburses property owners for installing streetlights.
The committee also discussed the issue of the high-speed rail station, with the input of two ASM student representatives. Verveer said City Council will be voting on legislation for its position on the station this coming Tuesday.
While committee member Patrick McDonnell said the city is taking a step in the right direction, he said the legislation does not consider the fiscal issue surrounding the multimodal aspects of the station.
The DCC has endorsed the Yahara Station as the preferred site over the airport. The city’s position legislation, however, does not specify a particular location but rather a set of principles and criteria for the station’s site.