Library proposal generates controversy in Appleton


Published 04/15 2014 10:43PM

Updated 04/15 2014 10:49PM

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) - A controversial vote regarding the future of the Appleton Public Library has been finalized. The Library Board voted unanimously tonight to move forward with the recommended 'bluff site' overlooking the Fox River.

The decision faced overwhelming opposition during the public input portion of the meeting.

Dozens of people raised concerns regarding parking, public transportation, and the fact that the proposed site is inhabited by a church and banquet hall, but those issues didn't stop the library board from moving forward.

The site is home to Trinity Lutheran Church and Fox Banquets. The city could potentially have to exercise eminent domain to acquire the properties, something that didn't sit well with some.

"Our hundred year anniversary is next year, and I'm very sad that they want to tear our building down," Peggy Hoppe, of Trinity Lutheran Church says.

"First of all it's wrong!" Appleton resident Constance Morgenstern told board members. "I mean if you're a Christian talk about the Ten Commandments, tenth commandment though shalt not covet thy neighbor's house! My goodness!"

Library officials say the site was a clear favorite, backed by a value index evaluation performed by an outside source.

"We worked through several layouts to make sure we were developing the library to the best of our ability on each of those sites," Library Director Colleen Rortvedt says "and then we evaluated them based on how the building would function as a library, and that site came out on top."

Officials say if need be, they'll work with the church and banquet hall to find new locations.

"We want to do what's best for the community," Rortvedt says, "for downtown, we want to work with the property owners to find the best solution for everybody."

The recommendation now moves on to the common council, where strong opposition is again expected.

"Oh absolutely" Common Council member Kathleen Plank says. "It's always like that. We will see it again, and people who are passionate about their properties and their churches or homes, it's a wonderful process that they give to give input, and they have that opportunity and I'm very certain it will not end.

Officials say this is the first of many baby steps before the issue makes its way to common council. This however, does mean this is the site that will be focused on moving forward.

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