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The Ripon Public Library’s planned renovation took another step forward last week Thursday when community members gathered to weigh-in on three concepts for outdoor spaces.
During the event, Marek Landscaping presented three design concepts and attendees were asked to provide feedback to help select the option that best fits the community’s needs.
“There is great potential for this unique property with public access to Silver Creek and a desire to make it accessible to everyone,” the library said in a press release.
The library has been planning a renovation for more than a year with the goal of completing the renovation by the library’s 125th anniversary in 2023.
A design for the interior of the library was selected last summer with an estimated cost of roughly $500,000.
The proposed interior renovation aims to update the children’s area, provide a space for teens to hang out and make the bathrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Because estimates for the project were less expensive than originally anticipated, library director Desiree Bongers said in September that the library is looking at potentially renovating the backyard as well, which would be incorporated into the same project for fundraising purposes.
Those discussions moved forward last week when around 20 community members gathered in the library’s basement to weigh-in on the outdoor spaces.
Each of the three proposed spaces presented to stakeholders included walking paths around the library connecting to the backyard space, an outdoor event space and areas for children to enjoy.
Marek Landscaping President Mike Marek noted the goal for the outdoor space planning was to design a space “as durable as the library and as permanent as Ripon.”
“Our hope is to get the rest of the feedback from the stakeholders and the [library] board to consolidate these three plans into the best versions of all of them,” he said. “We really want to make the best use of the space, we want to think about having different rooms within the overall space.
“We’ve got this amazing setting along the river, and this kind of blank slate at this point, in terms of designing a space that’s useful. We can really say that the sky’s the limit, conceptually.”
Marek Landscaping is in the process of collating the reactions and feedback given by attendees at last week’s Open House, according to Youth Services Librarian Linda DeCramer.
“All three plans offer components that generated lots of discussion and excitement,” she said. “Some particularly innovative design options include a performance amphitheater, climbing wall, living willow tree, Storytime Hideaway, boardwalk, reading garden and nature playground.”
This month’s library board meeting Tuesday, May 31 will feature a presentation updating the board on early activities aimed at identifying individuals who will play a role in the fundraising process for the renovations, and information regarding the formal launch of the fundraising campaign, DeCramer said.
Based on community feedback, Marek Landscaping will create a composite plan representing the best combination of design elements.
It will then move into a detailed blueprint phase and selection of building materials and product, as well as provide a cost estimate.
“The library is hoping to have more detailed information about the outdoor portion by the middle of June, including preliminary cost estimates,” Bongers said.
Fundraising for the exterior will run concurrent with the interior campaign. Next steps for the interior renovation include finalizing colors, products, furniture and decorative elements, DeCramer noted.
She added that revitalizing the library grounds is a dream come true and that the staff is thrilled by the community interest in the project.
“With the beauty of Silver Creek and other natural elements in mind as well as accessibility for all, Marek’s design will transform the library property into a place for learning, respite, exploration, curiosity, physical activity and more,” DeCramer said. “The COVID pandemic forced library staff to move programming outdoors, or online, making this project particularly timely.”
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Mail: 303 Watson St., PO Box 262, Ripon, WI 54971