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Should Byron get its own library?

The city is getting to the bottom of this question.

Posted: Sep 20, 2018 7:29 AM

BYRON, Minn. – If residents in Byron want to go to a library, they have to drive at least 15 minutes east to the Rochester Public Library or maybe another 15 minutes west to the Kasson Library.

It begs the question, should Byron get its own library in town? It’s a question Byron City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft said comes up about every five years. And now, the city is getting to the bottom of it.

“We have to answer this question to get it on the books or off the books, and this is the most neutral way to do it,” she said.

Some citizens have started a group to push for a library in town. But, Blair-Hoeft explains they might live inside Byron and wouldn’t be the ones paying for it.

The city hired two firms for a little over $20,000 to conduct a study to find out if people who live in Byron want a library, and if they want it enough to up taxes to pay for it.

“We want to make sure we engage with every person that we can. We don’t just want parents, we want senior citizens, we want people who don’t have children,” Blair-Hoeft said.

In a few weeks the city will be starting the first phase of the study. Residents will get surveys asking if they want a library and to pay for it. It may also look at what the vision of a library would be, a place for books or more of a community center?

“I think having a library here would be great, but at the same time our property taxes are already high” Ian Poznik, Byron resident, said. “I don't think it's feasible based on how much we already pay in taxes.”

He said he’d rather see other resources go up first, like a grocery store.

“We need the basics here. Right now, unless you're prepared to drive to Rochester almost daily or if you live in Rochester, we don't have what we need to be self-sufficient,” he said. “If Byron was on its own it wouldn't have what it needs.”

Blair-Hoeft said if results come back saying residents want to move forward with getting a library, the City Council would nail down the vision of the library. Next would come a referendum vote to help fund the building.

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