Last week a special committee recommended a proposal by Fiore Companies to build a new six-story central library at Henry Street and Washington Avenue. The city's Library Board and the Common Council both must approve the project.
In his state of the city address in April, Mayor Cieslewicz urged the city to think big when it came to the library project: "We can either respond by turning inward and being cautious or by being bold and aggressive."
While the Fiore proposal is certainly bold and aggressive, council members may balk at the estimated $43 million price tag at a time when city revenues are strapped. "The problem," says Ald. Larry Palm, "is there is a huge financial gap that [the mayor] doesn't have any solutions for crossing."
Palm isn't the only council member who wants to read the fine print.
"I'm a very strong supporter of the library system," says Ald. Michael Schumacher. "But when you start building such a large new building, I need to at least understand the liabilities that come with it for years to come and whether there aren't any other options on the table."
Schumacher notes that the city's debt has increased significantly, to a total of $239 million this year, and that "the debt payments are starting to become more noticeable."