The Mayor’s Executive Budget was released at the meeting of the Appleton Common Council last night. I am pleased to report that within the budget there is funding included to continue working on a solution for the Appleton Public Library. In June, the City of Appleton Common Council did not approve acquiring the site that ranked the highest in the site selection process. Since then, the library board has taken time to consider potential avenues to move forward in order to come to a proposal that will be supported.
The future of Appleton Public Library’s facility plans are closely intertwined with the future of downtown Appleton. The heart of our city is facing important decisions regarding solutions for our aging parking infrastructure. A comprehensive 56-block downtown parking analysis was completed last year providing options for solutions. Another process has begun to study mobility throughout downtown, including travel by foot, bicycle, automobile and public transit. In addition, the city and Appleton Downtown Incorporated are soliciting proposals to undergo a visioning process and update the downtown section of the city’s comprehensive plan.
Decisions about parking and access were identified as primary concerns throughout the months of feedback solicited in 2014. These concerns were echoed by council during public meeting decision points investigating the proposed site. Additionally, there were questions about how the proposed site for the library fit into the big picture for downtown Appleton. Mayor Hanna has factored all of these complicated issues into his 2016 budget proposal.
This proposal contains a Capital Improvement Project for Downtown Development (pg. 608) including funding for the library totaling $30,500,000 over four years:
- 2016 - $500,000
- 2017 - $5,000,000
- 2018 - $15,000,000
- 2019 - $10,000,000
This timeline allows for the completion of pending mobility and downtown vision studies to inform important decisions before the council. Since 2008, the library has been in the process of evaluating the condition of the current facility, as well as future needs and priorities of our community. Mayor Hanna’s transmittal letter states that work done by the Appleton Public Library Board of Trustees regarding the future needs of the library and leading up to the initial site recommendation remains valid. He is anticipating a collaborative decision making process, involving both the library board and the common council, to reach a consensus regarding the future of the library.