City, county unconcerned over library parking lot issue

Disagreement not affecting new consolidated system

Well, whatever. We’ll work it out.

That would seem to be the attitude among city and county officials when it comes to a disagreement about the future of the Shawano Library parking lot — a difference of opinion that is holding up closing on an agreement for the county to purchase the library property.

The county wants to acquire the property as part of its countywide library consolidation, which went into effect at the start of the year.

The lack of a finalized agreement on the Shawano building, however, has not impacted operations under the new countywide consolidated system, which included making all library staffers employees of the county, according to the county.

The Shawano County Board last month approved the purchase agreement, which called for the county to pay the city $2 for the library and the parking lot.

The city included a deed restriction in the agreement that stated the parking lot would continue to be available indefinitely for all public parking as well as library parking.

Though the purchase agreement was unanimously approved by the County Board, there were questions raised about the fate of the parking lot if the county at some point in the future decided to relocate the library and sell the property.

The county subsequently offered new language for the agreement that would have given the county the flexibility to someday expand into the existing parking lot if need be or dispose of it altogether if the property ever went up for sale.

The Shawano Finance Committee last week rejected that language, reasoning that the county could always come forward and ask for the deed restriction to be lifted in the future if necessary. The vote prevented the question from going to the Common Council for consideration.

As of Wednesday, the city had not yet notified the county about that decision.

County officials only became aware of the finance committee vote when a Leader reporter contacted them for a reaction.

“We have had no formal or informal notification,” said County Corporation Counsel Tony Kordus. “We haven’t heard anything.”

The county did not follow up with the city to confirm the information, citing other priorities.

City Administrator Brian Knapp also said other more pressing issues delayed notifying the county about the finance committee’s decision.

Kordus speculated that the city might be considering some other alternative that might account for the delay in notification.

Knapp said the city’s posture has not changed.

“We’re asking them to include language in the agreement that is consistent with the agreement (approved by the Common Council),” he said.

The closing date of the library purchase has always been flexible, according to officials.

County Administrative Coordinator Brent Miller did not see the closing date as being a problem.

“It will close whenever we get it closed,” he said.

Miller said that, in the meantime, the new countywide system, including the Shawano library, has been running smoothly.