Goverment Notes

Walker Library attracts developer interest

By Michael Metzger

Southwest’s Walker Library could be sold and moved from its Uptown location in one scenario the Minneapolis Library Board is considering.

At its Aug. 20 meeting, the MPL board ordered the library staff to explore three plans for the Walker, including selling the 2880 Hennepin Ave. S. facility and relocating the library in Uptown, possibly in a mixed retail/housing development. A second option is to redevelop the current site, incorporating the library into a mixed-use development. A third option would keep the library where it is and make approximately $750,000 in roof repairs.

"My understanding is that there is a developer that has met with the director [of MPL, Kit Hadley]," Library Board member Diane Hofstede said.

Hofstede didn’t disclose the developer’s name.

The Board approved spending up to $20,000 from the Old Walker Library sale trust fund to study the three options. The money can buy things such as real estate appraisals, development consultants and architectural analysis.

Said Hofstede, "One of the suggestions is that the Walker be moved to another location, and I think that would just be a crime. When I look back over the 20 years I’ve been on the Library Board and ask ‘What is the criteria that you use to determine where the best location of a library should be?’ Walker fits that criteria. It just has a problem with its roof."

Hofstede said she’s been told that it would cost "around $750,000" to fix the chronic problems with the Walker’s roof. Most of the building is at street level or below ground.

The board has struggled with a $4.5 million budget shortfall for this year and next. It recently closed all branches for a week, shortened hours and reduced services systemwide for 2004.

The library staff has until Oct. 20 to report on the three Walker options.

City Council actions

8/22/03 meeting Emergency medical fee: The Council voted 13-0 to allow the Fire Department to charge $400 per patient for emergency medical care provided at personal injury accidents.

Towing: The Council voted 11-2 to enter into new towing contracts and increase the impound lot towing fee from $128 to $133 and increase the storage fee from $15 to $18 daily. Barbara Johnson (4th Ward) and Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward) voted no.

NRP: The Council voted 13-0 to guarantee a future funding source for the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Phase II. It will come from excess money in the Common Project, a pool of tax-increment money from city-backed development projects, estimated to generate $89 million for NRP through 2009.

Development subsidies: The Council voted 12-1 to borrow money from the Hilton Legacy Fund — netting $3.6 million a year through 2009 — to give the city money to leverage development projects. It will repay the interest-free Hilton loan from an unrelated loan to Brookfield Properties, due in 2009. Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) voted no.

Domestic partners: The Council voted 13-0 to change the civil rights ordinances to 1) give local effect to domestic partner registrations from other jurisdictions and 2) to prohibit discrimination against domestic partners, compared to persons with spouses, in the areas of real estate, public accommodations, public services and professional organizations.

Housing code: The Council voted 13-0 to amend the housing code to include domestic partners in the definition of family.

Sabo: The Council voted 13-0 to honor U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo for his efforts to curb airport noise.

Lowry Hill East lights: The Council voted 13-0 to accept the Killmer Electric Company’s $995,000 bid to do the Lowry Hill East pedestrian lighting project.

Independent: The Council voted 12-0 to approve a liquor license with Sunday sales to The Independent, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., which is going into the space formerly occupied by the Smiling Moose. Scott Benson (11th Ward) abstained.

Walker contamination: The Council voted 13-0 to accept a $300,000 state grant to defray the Walker Art Center site cleanup costs.

Ramsey easement: The Council voted 13-0 to accept an easement from the Minneapolis Public Schools to move the sidewalk along the 4900 block of Nicollet further west as part of a road widening project. The improvements include a new bus lane next to Ramsey school.

Rezoning: The Council voted 9-4 to deny a request to rezone 2601 Sunset Blvd. to make a 19-unit apartment a conforming use. Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward), Robert Lilligren (8th Ward), Niziolek and Zimmermann voted no. — Scott Russel