April 15, 2013

Three community leaders in Carroll promoting an expansion of the current Carroll Public Library to the east of the Farner Government Building have formed an official committee and are negotiating with the Moose Lodge for the purchase of its property.

Greg Siemann, a Carroll attorney, and businessmen/developers Matt Greteman and Dr. Richard Collison are the three founding members of the Carroll Library Expansion Committee, LLC, Siemann said in an interview.

"Our aim would be indicated by our name," Siemann said.

Siemann and the Moose Lodge confirmed that the Moose organization, 200 E. Fifth, St., voted last Thursday on an offer on the property. The Moose rejected an initial offer but voted to continue negotiating.

"It's a possibility, but it's just in negotiations," said Ron Bernholtz of the Moose Lodge 273, which has about 200 members.

Bernholtz did not reveal any dollar figures associated with the negotiations.

The Secretary of State's Office lists Siemann as the registered agent for the Carroll Library Expansion Committee. His law practice at 801 N. Adams St. is listed as the library expansion group's home office.

The Carroll Library Expansion Committee is not officially affiliated with the city and is acting independently of the Library Board of Trustees or city entities.

"I don't know what, if anything, they're doing about any library project," Siemann said of the trustees.

Siemann, a former member of the Carroll Library Board of Trustees, said he could not comment on any involvement with the city on the project. He said the committee - which filed founding documents with the Iowa Secretary of State's Office in November - is interested in advancing public works in Carroll and is not designed for any private gain.

Siemann said the committee has a vision for an expanded library.

"At some point in time my group will be making a presentation to the Carroll City Council," Siemann said.

Siemann declined to identify other properties that may be involved with a library expansion.

"We don't feel that it's appropriate for us to reveal any confidences," Siemann said.

At a meeting several weeks ago with members of the Carroll Library Board of Trustees and Carroll Library Foundation, Mayor Adam Schweers said he had consulted with Collison, Siemann and Greteman on improving Carroll's library facilities - the ongoing No. 1 priority of the Carroll City Council.

The Carroll City Council last week reviewed capital-projects developments but did not include any information on the library.

Carroll voters in August 2011 overwhelming turned down a financing referendum for a planned new $7.4 million library at the former Heider Manufacturing property south of the Union Pacific Railroad lines and west of Main Street, effectively sending back to elected officials and library volunteers a decision on whether to build a new public lending facility, add onto the current one or do nothing at all.

The referendum that would have allowed the city to issue up to $6 million in general-obligation bonds failed with 22 percent, or 643 voters in support, and 78 percent or 2,282 people casting ballots against the public measure. The referendum required a super-majority of 60 percent for passage.

The Carroll Library Expansion Committee and Schweers have not made public any estimated costs associated with the possible expansion.

But Schweers did suggest in a recent council meeting that the city earmark $3 million to $4 million for a library project in its long-range planning. Private fundraising would be expected as well, Schweers said.

Siemann's wife, Carolyn, is a member of the Carroll City Council.