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An overhead view of the land and former library owned by Hennepin County near the Community Activity Center.

The Brooklyn Park City Council told city staff members to move forward with steps to acquire the old Hennepin County Brooklyn Park Library, 8600 Zane Ave.

Hennepin County relocated the library from its old location near the Community Activity Center to its current location at 8500 W. Broadway in 2016. The county has been using the old location for temporary storage of library collections from other libraries while they were under renovation.

The county recently told the city that it was interested in doing away with the property and asked if Brooklyn Park was interested in acquiring the property and building. The council told city staff members to move forward with acquisition at its June 3 work session.

The city currently has a license agreement with the county for shared use of the parking lot east of the library structure for the Community Activity Center. The majority of the Community Activity Center parking lot is owned by the county.

The existing library building needs a new roof, a new boiler and mechanicals, remediation of asbestos and parking lot improvements to meet code requirements for use. These costs, which do not include interior remodeling, are expected to cost between $663,000 and $718,000. These estimates do not include the cost to acquire the property and building, which are not clear at this time.

The cost to demolish the structure is anticipated to be approximately $100,000.

The council largely supported acquiring the property.

Mayor Jeff Lunde said that the city needs to purchase the property to ensure it has parking for the Community Activity Center. The city could purchase the property and wait to decide what it wants to use it for at a later time, he said.

Councilmember Lisa Jacobson said that the city should attempt to acquire the property for the lowest rate possible, and she may be interested in seeing the space used for an aquatics project. Councilmember Tonja West-Hafner also said she would be interested in seeing an aquatics project coming to the city.

Councilmember Susan Pha said that she would like to see the city renovate the existing building and offer the space as a business incubator or as space for nonprofits. The city could later tear down the building if the land was needed for another use, she said. The city often talks about supporting nonprofits and small businesses and should do something to back up those discussions, she said.

West-Hafner said that it doesn’t make sense for the city to repair the building only to tear it down later.

Councilmember Mark Mata said that he generally questions the value of nonprofits because too low of a percentage of the money they bring in goes to helping the community.

Pha said that many people, particularly people of color, rely on small, local nonprofits for support.

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Community Editor

Kevin Miller is Community Editor for the Brooklyn Park Sun Post.

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