New library community input

From left, Rae Vogeler and Mike Wumsch, who live close to where Oregon’s new public library will be built, plan the layout of the building in a block exercise. The activity was part of a community input open house held by OPN Architects at Village Hall on April 8, 2019.

While nearly 75% of community members who attended the three listening sessions last month about the new public library location or who submitted comments through the online feedback form have expressed their preference for the library to remain downtown, at least one location under consideration is now off the table.

The site at 249 N. Main St., former home of a Methodist church, was first selected in August 2017 to be the future home of the brand new Oregon Public Library.

But following the Monday, Dec. 6 Oregon Village Board meeting, that location is officially off the table.

The Village Board decided that the North Main Street site for the new Library is off the table by a 4-3 vote.

That leaves the current library site at 256 Brook St. and a parcel adjoining Keller Alpine Meadows Park as the two sites that the Library Board wants to proceed with exploring as the next possibility.

With a 5-2 vote, the Board asked for soil borings at Keller Park, where the potential new library could be built. While the Village Board voted in favor of investigating the soils at the park site to see if they would be suitable for building the library, they did not vote to officially make that site the home of the new library.

Many village residents have come forward expressing concern about exacerbating existing flooding issues in the area and causing water drainage impacts on the park property through impermeable driveways and parking surfaces. They would prefer to see the site left undeveloped or have it enhanced into a nature preserve or conservancy to provide connected upland habitat for the adjacent wetlands and to preserve the passive recreational use of the area.

The Oregon Nature Alliance group has expressed concern that development of this area would further diminish the wildlife habitat and contribute additional polluted runoff to its ecosystem.

“I did my best to keep downtown sites alive,” village president Randy Glysch wrote on Facebook following the Dec. 6 meeting. “I still believe the new library should be downtown. I voted for what I thought was best for the Village and it's residents. We'll see where things go from here. Going to keep listening to the residents and businesses of the Village, and continue to fight for what's good for our community.”

Reporter Neal Patten can be reached at npatten@wisconsinmediagroup.com

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