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Olson Library design vital to fundraising for expansion project PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

The Walter E. Olson Library Foundation wishes to clarify some misunderstandings regarding the proposed renovation and expansion of the library.

The Olson Library Foundation is a private, independent and stand-alone organization. It is unrelated to any governmental body. It has its own Articles of Incorporation and set of bylaws. These documents give the foundation authority to, among other things, receive gifts, hold property, invest funds and enter into contracts. When the foundation signs a contract, it signs on behalf of the foundation and no other entity.

When the previously contracted design firm of Durrant went bankrupt in the middle of the fundraising campaign for  a new library, it was the prudent time to rescale the project and bring in a new designer. At that time, the foundation made the board of trustees aware of the situation and it was mutually agreed to hire a local firm to develop a new concept.

The new design was reviewed and approved by the board of trustees. The foundation, subsequently, introduced the new plan to the public and the positive response reignited the fundraising. Having a conceptual design was an important and integral fundraising tool.

At no time during the last five years did the city of Eagle River voice any concern that the design of the library project had not been submitted to the bid process. In fact, the occasion of Durrant’s bankruptcy would have been the perfect time to make these concerns known, not five years and 10 months after the planning and fundraising had been initiated.

The foundation, as stewards of $2.5 million in gifts and pledges, is confounded by the after-the-fact requirement of the city of Eagle River to bid the project design, which will require the expenditure of additional time and money.

The design produced and approved by the board of trustees has great appeal to the community, which is witnessed by the votes they cast with their donations. The fundraising for the building project succeeded with that design and its appreciation by the donors. That fact should not be ignored.

All aspects of the actual construction of the building will be bid. This was and continues to be the position the board of trustees communicated to the foundation, the City Council and the public at large. Professional services such as design and construction management are legal exemptions to bidding. This exemption would streamline the process, preserve donor funds and get the project back on track to timely completion.

The foundation expects nothing in return for its successful efforts in raising funds for this project. What was unanticipated is the punitive action of the City Council as a result. The foundation is merely the agent which tapped into the wishes and desires of the community and helped channel resources to this project. That fundraising success should be appreciated and the project allowed to proceed as intended.

Throughout its history, the Olson Library Foundation has operated with honor, integrity and in good faith. It takes its integrity very seriously. To have it unjustly assailed in a public forum is, to say the least, discouraging.

Walter E. Olson Memorial Library Foundation

Nancy Schaffer

Deb Obrodovich

Fred Prange

Dar Kadulski

Phil Jensen

Nancy Schuller

Tina Koller

Connie Olson

John Hletko

Jan Christofferson

Norma Yaeger

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 10:02 AM

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