Town Talk: You ask – we answer: Library landscaping

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

You ask: When will New Ulm Public Library replace its sign on Broadway and complete its landscaping project around the Wanda Gag sculpture?

Answer: Signage and landscaping are the major structural projects the library intends to complete in 2017, and we are working on them simultaneously.

The New Ulm Public Library Board sought bids to design landscaping for the entire library grounds and signage at the front of the building this spring; unfortunately, the two bids that were received were costlier than anticipated, and the issue was sent back to the Landscaping Subcommittee for review. With the consent of the Library Board, the Wanda Gag Monument Committee, Inc. currently is working with a local Master Gardener to design the rectangular area around the sculpture, and the Landscaping Subcommittee will review the proposal before it goes to the Library Board.

The goal for the space is to create a welcoming environment that complements the sculpture and showcases its beauty. It is expected to include a walkway, seating, greenery, a spotlight on the sculpture, and a plaque identifying Wanda Gag, her connection to New Ulm, and her artistic and literary contributions.

The project likely will include removing the tree located in the southeast corner of the sculpture’s rectangular space. The tree’s roots are exposed, making it difficult for staff to maintain the lawn and impeding the landscape redesign. In addition, the tree’s upper branches hang over the roof of the library and create maintenance issues. We recognize that removing the tree is not an ideal solution; however, we are planning an environmentally friendly, inviting space for the public.

The rest of the library’s green area will remain as is for now, and library staff and the Library Board will assess the situation annually.

As for signage, the concrete structure that designated New Ulm Library and faced Broadway Street was razed last summer to accommodate the exterior sanitary sewer reconstruction. The Landscaping Subcommittee has been tasked with recommending a design to the Library Board and has indicated a desire to install signage on the building rather than creating a separate structure. The sign possibly will be affixed to the main building above the panel of windows near the Wanda Gag sculpture. Library staff is in the beginning stages of researching options for design and installation.

Installation of these projects may cause the Broadway Street library entrance to close for a time, and we thank the public in advance for its patience. It is hoped that the projects will be completed by mid-summer.

Library Director Kris Wiley welcomes feedback and comments on these projects as well as all library matters. Stop by the library, call 507-359-8332, or email kwiley@tds.lib.mn.us. See you at the library!

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