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Letter to the editor: Library renovation in jeopardy

Jan O’Donnell and Micky McGilligan

On behalf of the Friends of the Two Harbors Public Library

The Friends of the Library has been working on a project for the rehabilitation of the windows in the Carnegie section of the library for the last two years. The goals of this project are to ensure energy efficiency while bringing the original windows into compliance with federal historic standards. It is our understanding that the library board of trustees approves of this project as the trustee’s sent a letter of support to the City.

Since last fall the Friends of the Library has been raising matching dollars for this project. We planned our efforts to prepare to submit a request for funding to the Minnesota Historical Society which is due on May 2. Because the city owns the building, it will need to submit the grant. However, the Friends have been doing the prep work, as well as preparing a draft of the proposal which is close to being finalized.

The project will go before the council Monday at 5 p.m. at City Hall. We had hoped to bring it to the council much earlier as we met with the city’s administrator, Lee Klein, on Feb. 28, but he and building official, Jim Rich, say they have needed time to consider the project before bringing it to the council. After meeting with them and City Councilor Roger Simonson today, they did decide that they were willing to bring it to the council on Monday. Representatives of Friends of the Library will be at the city council meeting Monday at 5 p.m. and we hope supporters of the library will be there to support historic preservation of the Carnegie section of the library building.

We are concerned because city officials are telling us that our financial figures for the project are too high. They seem to be insisting that we redo the financial figures to make the project cheaper. We are basing our figures on an estimate from Old World Windows for a historical restoration of the windows that would also ensure energy efficiency. We are not saying that they are the company that has to do the project; it is just an estimate for the purposes of applying for a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society

If successful in obtaining the grant, the city would put out a call for bids which, hopefully, meet the standards set for historical restoration. However, the feedback from the city engineer does not appear to take into account the complexity of those standards as they evaluate the cost of the project.

We would like to submit the grant as we have written it. Jan O’Donnell, Micky McGilligan, Michele Monson and other members of the Friends of the Library have put many hours into preparing this grant. The deadline is May 2 for application. We feel that the project is do-able as written. The only thing the MHS will fund is historical restoration of the windows. If a non-historical replacement of windows takes place, the library will lose its status on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

We feel there is no need to change the financial figures we included in the grant because if a restoration is to be done, it will have to be submitted for bids with the federal standards. If a bidder comes in under our estimates, that is the time to accept a lower bid and use or not use all of the available grant monies.

Thank you for your support of the Friends in the past. We hope you will continue your support at this time.