WELL discussion continues at Nobles County Board

WORTHINGTON - The Nobles County Commissioners once again had the WELL Project on their agenda, but once again no action took place, this time at the request of the Nobles County Library Board.

WELL is a proposed project that would include Worthington, Nobles County and District 518 - a seemingly simple solution to cut the expense of new buildings for all three entities. Under discussion for inclusion in the project would be a new library, community education, an indoor recreation space, and possibly things such as a new chamber of commerce office and space for the Nobles County Art Center.

Building a new library has been a hot-button subject for a decade. Various studies have been done to determine how much library the community needs, what kind of facility it needs to be, and where it should be located. Since no consensus has ever been reached, no progress has ever been made. WELL is the closest thing to a step toward a new library in years.

A month ago, representation from the library  and their board addressed the commission, bringing a list of requirements that would have to be conceded for them to approve inclusion in WELL. That list included a separate entrance from the other entities, at least 30,000 square feet - all on one floor, involvement of a library architect, the library director being included "in every single meeting," and final approval on all plans by the library board and staff.

During Tuesday's meeting, County Administrator Tom Johnson reminded the commissioners that proposals from architects would be coming soon and that preliminary designs were needed quickly in order to apply for state bonding funds.

Marlene Greve, representing the library board, told the commissioners she had "vital information that is critical to action." She stated her board had neither voted to support nor withdraw from the project, but voted to stay committed until the first architectural drawings come back, then make a decision how to proceed. She said Nobles County Attorney Kathy Kusz had attended one of the library board meetings and suggested they create a 'guiding document' to help clarify their eight requests.

The committee, Greve said, is now finalizing that document, and asked that the commissioners delay any action until the library board votes on their own document, adding that their informed intent would be based on the findings of the document and preliminary architect renderings.

The problem is now one of the proverbial chicken and the egg. The county needs to address architectural proposals in order to get designs done to apply for legislative bonding, but the library board doesn't want any forward movement without  approving their own document and being able to look at preliminary designs - which don't exist without hiring an architect.

Nobles County Board Chari Matt Widboom told the board ad library representatives that creating this collaborative project would require compromise on everyone's part.

"It should be an exciting thing to build a library in Nobles County, something people should be fired up about," Widboom stated. "The end result should benefit my kids and my grand kids, and go beyond out personal thoughts today."

No action was taken, but the board is hoping to get the proposals back as soon as possible and bring them to a joint board of the three entities.

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