LETTER: 'Let's bring GF library home' - to downtown

GRAND FORKS--The board of directors of the Downtown Development Association would like to respond to Stan Miller's recent column regarding library location sites ("South End yes, downtown no for new GF library," Page A4, April 27).

GRAND FORKS-The board of directors of the Downtown Development Association would like to respond to Stan Miller's recent column regarding library location sites ("South End yes, downtown no for new GF library," Page A4, April 27).

But before we respond to his direct claims about the concerns for a downtown location, we'd like to respond to the general thinking that underlies his entire column.

Miller does not give the citizens of Grand Forks enough credit for their ability to think creatively in terms of land use and place making.

Miller is correct; the proposed downtown site is not the largest of the site options. However, using that argument as the foundation for the site location debate implies that we must follow the model of a large-scale, one or two story building, with an attached "big-box store style" parking lot that sprawls past the eyes' field of vision.

In the modern world of architectural design and engineering, it is shortsighted to lead building discussions with that intent. Our community is full of creative and forward-thinking designers and citizens, and we should lean on them in this process.


The parking debate should be viewed in the same frame. Let's think creatively, to ensure that we are using our land to its fullest capabilities. It doesn't just make for a more enjoyable city for our people; it's also the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Downtown has always been-and will continue to be-the heart and soul of any community, and that's especially true in Grand Forks. Here are several reasons why:

First, downtown serves as the civic hub of Grand Forks, as shown by the large number of destination public buildings in the downtown area.

Second, it's the city's center for social services for our most vulnerable citizens, who happen to be one of our library's largest user groups.

Third, it's the home of our public transportation hub; and fourth, it's the densest part of our city when it comes to population.

Using a community's public library shouldn't require that you have a car. It shouldn't even require that you pay for public transportation. But building a library on the south end of Grand Forks would require such things.

The largest percentages of the adult population without cars in our community are focused around two areas: the university, and downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods. A library in the heart of downtown would be more accessible to the people who need it the most.

People who own cars are not inconvenienced by location. People who don't own cars are.


Miller is exactly right: a new library should last at least 50 years, so we want to make sure we do it right. And, although the South End will continue to change over the years, we can tell Grand Forks residents with certainty that downtown is not going anywhere.

Fifty years from now, regardless of the new geography of our city, downtown will continue to be a thriving center for life in our community.

Miller also is right in stating that a new library should blend well with its surroundings architecturally. But to think that we wouldn't be able to accomplish that downtown, once again dismisses the architectural and design capabilities that are prevalent throughout today's world.

Downtowns across the country have new developments and redevelopments happening daily, and these developments successfully take into account both modern design and the nature of the historic district. We needn't look any further than Billings, Mont., to see a prime example of this, as Billings recently built a beautiful new public library that captures these elements in the heart of its downtown.

Furthermore, Fargo, among other cities, renovated the city's existing downtown library to keep it downtown.

Years ago, Grand Forks built a beautiful Carnegie Library in the heart of its own downtown. The building served as a wonderful, community-gathering place-a place of learning for all of our citizens and in the neighborhood where our citizens gathered-for 69 years.

Let's bring the library home.

As the Grand Forks Library Board and the rest of our community proceed with choosing a location for what will without a doubt become our city's greatest amenity, we urge everyone to think creatively, to embrace our history, and to continue to embrace downtown Grand Forks as the beating heart of this city.


Stacey Majkrzak

Jonathan Holth

Anne Zimmer

Sarah Horak

Emily Burkland

Kris Holm

Matt Winjum

David Thompson


Jason Schaefer

Jill Proctor

Brad Bulger

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