In a surprise move, Woodstock Library trustee and Building Committee chair Jill Fisher has resigned from the library board to move back to Duluth, Minnesota, with her husband, Neil.
Trustee Howard Kagan will take over chair the Building Committee that Fisher has led for nearly five years, through the planning and controversy surrounding the Library’s plans to rebuild its facility.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” board President Dorothea Marcus said at the January 16 trustees meeting where Fisher’s departure was announced at the end of the evening under new business.
“You’re the hardest working, incredibly spirited and committed trustee, and have really been the motor behind our finally getting a new facility. It’s very hard to think of how we’ll function without you.”
Marcus stressed the library building project will continue in earnest.
“I do want to say for the other trustees and for the public here, including our reporter, that everyone sitting at this table is very committed to making this happen,” Marcus said.
“This doesn’t mean that there’s any slack in moving forward with the building.”
Trustees have planned replace the current library with a 13,400-square-foot building at a cost of $4.4 million. Vocal opponents of the plan have stated a desire for a renovation of the current Library building.
Fisher will assist Kagan with the transition during her remaining time before she moves.
“We’re very happy for you personally,” Marcus said.
The move isn’t sudden for Fisher as she had always planned to go back to her roots when she retired. “Neil and I bought a house back in Dec 2018. We made decision to move then,” Fisher said. “However because of the library and because of his work we decided we’d stick around for another year. After keeping it a secret for all that time it was kind of weighing on me.”
Fisher said her skills were related more to the Master Plan process and getting citizen input. She is confident trustee Howard Kagan can use his skills as an architect to head the Building Committee.
“It’s been an interesting process. I know some people will think I’m being run out of town. That’s not the case. I’m a Minnesotan at heart and Neil’s got that Swedish blood,” Fisher said.
Her house in Minnesota is being rented and the lease is up in May, so that is when she plans to move.
The board is accepting applications and will appoint Fisher’s replacement at its February 20 board meeting. The appointment is through December 31. Whoever fills the seat will need to run for election in October if they want to continue into 2021.
The application is available at woodstock.org under the About Us page and is the first item listed in Recent Documents.
Trustees will interview candidates at the February 20 meeting and vote in closed session.
Jim Dougherty, a candidate in the 2019 election, has applied. Dougherty, who ran on a slate that opposed a new library building with Julie Szabo and former trustee Jesse Jones, came within one percent of those elected to the board.
Nearly enough cash for next phase
The board reported it has just over $100,000 in its Capital Fund. As of January 15, the balance sheet showed $76,948.66. That amount does not include a $25,000 donation from Ralph Goneau, which is part of a larger pledge. Another $20,000 in donations were pending, Marcus said.
That funds are close to what is needed to restart the contract with architect Stephen Tilly and begin the design development phase at a cost of $188,048, or about 32 percent of Tilly’s total $584,000 contract. That phase will incur monthly bills of around $31,340.
Tilly’s original estimate came in at $6.9 million, but that was for a larger building. Construction Manager Agent JC Alten believes the bulk of savings down to $4.4 million can come from paring the planned size from 13,400 square feet to 12,000 square feet.
The architect’s contract is nearing the end of a six-month pause negotiated to allow for fundraising. Donations can be made online at newlibrarywoodstock.org or checks can be dropped off at the library.