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Fairfax Library project draws opposition

December 9, 2010
By Fritz Busch Staff Writer

FAIRFAX - Plans to build a new, $451,656 library about a block north of the existing library have drawn the ire of some residents.

Earlier this fall, the Fairfax City Council approved a resolution to build a new library on the site of the former Weir Hotel on East Main Street, a 140x50-foot lot.

Fairfax Mayor Kevin Schafer voted for the resolution, breaking a tie vote.

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The existing Fairfax Public Library is open six days a week. It is located about a block south of the planned site for a new

Project cost estimates were $451,656 plus land acquisition costs by Short, Elliot and Hendrickson Inc., a Minneapolis architectural firm.

Several petitions posted in Fairfax businesses earlier this month seek a public vote on the library project because it "is a big project with a tax impact on every property owner..."

Schafer said the council could change direction on the project, but it is not bound by petition signatures.

According to Fairfax City ordinance, a motion to reconsider council action must be voted on no later than the next meeting, which is Dec. 14.

Schafer added that a $450,000 loan borrowed at 3.75 percent interest over 40 years would create an $83.50 annual tax increase on a home valued at $100,000.

"I guess some people are afraid we can't afford it," Schafer said. "We have no proposed 2011 tax increase. Actually, 2011 taxes will be down slightly."

Earlier this year, the First National Bank Board of Directors offered the City of Fairfax a $200,000 donation to be used only to build a new library.

Schafer said the donation would nearly cut the project cost in half.

He added that the petitions include signatures of people who don't live within the Fairfax city limits.

Fairfax City Clerk-Treasurer-Administrator Marcia Siebert-Volz said Fairfax city ordinances allow petitions for public improvements like vacating an alley or other special assessments for utility projects.

In a letter to the editor of the Fairfax, Gibbon and Franklin Standard-Gazette this week, Dorothy Prax of Fairfax wrote that a donation should not have strings attached.

"To me, this is more like a bribe..." Prax wrote.

She added that several downtown Fairfax buildings are for sale and asked how a new library would help the local economy.

"These are tough economic times," Prax wrote. "We hear this phrase almost every day and are living it. Those of us of the older generation have lost our earning power and do not get raises anymore. We have to make do as our city council should also do."

She urged interested residents to talk to the council and mayor.

The existing Fairfax Public Library is located in front of the city fire and police department garages and offices.

The library is closed on Monday and open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings and on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Wednesday night.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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