After an emotional discussion, the Minneapolis City Council approved the consolidation of the Minneapolis Public Library and Hennepin County Library systems today at its last meeting of the year.
All council members were present.
Council Member Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) was the lone member to vote against the merger, which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. The biggest immediate change will be the re-opening of three Minneapolis libraries: Roosevelt, Southeast and Webber Park.
Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) called the consolidation “an unusual groundbreaking.” What was a wish a year ago is a promise today, said Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward). The council also commended the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees and thanked the Committee on the Future of Libraries in Hennepin County and the Library Advisory Committee for their work.
Here are some of the other highlights of today’s council meeting:
– Design work for the Second Avenue and Marquette Transit Project will move forward. The city wants to add an additional bus lane to Second and Marquette avenues. The council authorized staff to proceed with design work and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant to provide design and construction management services. The city will be using risk dollars, which will be reimbursed if the state provides matching dollars for the Urban Partnership Agreement.
– The council authorized the execution of an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to complete the Midtown Greenway Bicycle Station project. Several funding sources for the project were also approved. The vision for the Midtown Bicycle Station originated in 1999 and federal funding was awarded for it in 2000. But the project stalled due to the need for more funding and bids coming in too high. The building will be approximately 4,000 square feet, and it will include many of the core services that were originally proposed for the project.
– The council approved rezoning properties in the Tangletown neighborhood, allowing for the construction of 30 dwelling units in the 5400 block of Stevens Avenue South for the Creekside Commons development project. The project will provide low-income housing. The council also denied an appeal filed by the Minneapolis Residents for Smart Density and upheld the Planning Commission’s decision to approve applications for a conditional use permit, variance to reduce off-street parking, a variance to reduce the front yard setback and a site plan review for the development.
– The council signed off on its 2008 legislative agenda. It includes support for a disaster victim compensation fund, mandatory statewide regulation of massage therapists, gun control legislation and pension reform. It also outlines transportation priorities, such as state matching funds for the Urban Partnership Agreement and funds for the development of a Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line. Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) offered one amendment – which was approved – that the council support legislation that would allow non-profit animal welfare organizations to provide subsidized spay-and-neuter services to animals belonging to low-income persons. “I think it’s going to be a big year at the Legislature,” Hodges said.
– The council approved several reappointments. They include the reappointments of Commissioner of Health Gretchen Musicant, Public Works Director Steve Kotke, Community Planning and Minneapolis Community Development Agency Executive Director and Economic Development Director Mike Christenson, City Assessor Patrick Todd, City Coordinator Steven Bosacker, and Fire Chief James Clack, who each will begin two-year terms starting Jan. 2. The council approved the reappointment of Civil Rights Director Michael Jordon, but Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward) voted against and Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward) abstained from voting on the reappointment.