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Possible uses for the historic former public library in Park Rapids are being discussed among city leaders. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

City leaders discuss Carnegie Library building

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News Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470 http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/22/0304/webcarnegie-library.jpg?itok=pwNwKrGh
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City leaders discuss Carnegie Library building
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Although Park Rapids representatives decided now wasn't a good time to consider purchasing a building, they gave some thought to future uses of the Carnegie Library.

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City staff was directed to find out more information about costs for making the historic downtown Carnegie Library accessible.

The city of Park Rapids received a proposal to purchase the Carnegie Library building on Second Street west in downtown Park Rapids. A committee met Monday to discuss the building.

The proposal, from William Louks and Candace Gulsvig, said the estimated market value of the property in 2011 was $269,300. The owners are willing to donate 30 percent to the city, or $80,790, for a total price due at closing of $188,510. They said financing is negotiable.

"Being that it's a very visible building, historic, I think it's important to have it stay with the city," Gulsvig said.

The library was built after the city received a Carnegie grant. Carnegie libraries were constructed throughout the United States. It served as the city's public library until 1994.

The building has had some remodeling done over the years but the outside has retained the historic look.

City planner Dan Walker said the building has covenants and if any changes are proposed to the outside of the building, approval is needed from the National Register of Historic Places.

City building official Ron Dick said the building would likely need to meet accessibility requirements if renovations were made because the entrance is not currently handicapped accessible.

A ramp or elevator could be installed but this would be expensive. He estimated $50,000 to $60,000 for an elevator.

A ramp would also be costly, Dick said, because the entrance is high. He estimated this could cost as much as $45,000.

Councilwoman Sue Tomte asked about the possibility of moving the building to a different location with the possibility of using it along with a new library. She said the current library is bursting at the seams and will need more space at some point. Some federal grant dollars are available for libraries, she said.

Moving the building would be an option, Dick said, but it also would be costly.

Other ideas were tossed around about possible uses for the building, including City Hall, single family residential or space for non-profit entities.

City administrator Bill Smith questioned why the city was even considering the proposal because it didn't have money.

Ultimately, the committee agreed but wanted more information in case the opportunity presented itself in the future.

Walker said the city has other priorities, such as streets and sewers that need replacement.

The committee expressed interest in helping a developer work with the building if someone was interested in taking on the project, similar to the Armory, across the street.

Dick will gather some information about costs for adding a ramp or elevator to the building and other options for the next City Council meeting Tuesday, May 10.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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