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Library branch sites narrowed

Ed Clapp Park and the Northport Shopping Center emerged Tuesday as top sites for Fargo's new south and north branch libraries. That was the sentiment of the 30 or more residents who attended the second of the city's library public input meetings....

Ed Clapp Park and the Northport Shopping Center emerged Tuesday as top sites for Fargo's new south and north branch libraries.

That was the sentiment of the 30 or more residents who attended the second of the city's library public input meetings.

But where people want to see the main downtown library isn't so clear.

At least four sites are being considered. Jeff Scherer, project architect of MS&R in Minneapolis, said deciding the downtown location will be the most complicated.

Among the choices: the current library site, the mall area of the Civic Center, the US Bank property on Broadway and a section of the block on NP Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets. This privately owned site is now occupied by an adult book store.

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Another site, which Scherer said has to be anonymous for now, also could be considered and is in the southwest fringe of downtown.

Reactions Tuesday were mixed.

Fargo resident Mark Sinner said he likes the US Bank site because it's in the heart of downtown near retail.

"What the library could be there is really exciting," Sinner said.

Fargo City Commissioner Linda Coates said she also likes the idea of the Civic lot because she likes the idea of having a public building looking over the river.

In this location, the library would likely be built above ground, and a parking ramp could go where the current library sits.

For the north side, a handful of residents spoke favorably of Northport as did Scherer, though he wasn't thrilled about the actual structure.

"Northport is a plain-Jane building, but it's where the action is," he said.

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A 4,000-square-foot lease space is available and would cost about $11.75 per square foot.

Washington Elementary was all but weeded out as a northside location Tuesday.

Carrie Pierce, a Washington parent, said she and other parents are concerned about safety in that space. Parent Anne Schneider also pointed out a lack of extra parking.

Other potential northside sites include Yunker Farm and a lease space in a new building planned for 21st Street North and University Drive.

In south Fargo, Scherer said Ed Clapp Park, 2801 32nd Ave. S., is the best site, noting it's customer friendly, easily accessible and near shopping.

Stonebridge Park along 25th Street also is a consideration, but Scherer said the street is too busy and it isn't a destination site. The third southside area being considered is the possible new high school site at 3107 52nd Ave. S. Scherer said he thinks that's too far away.

Based on public feedback compiled by Schere, the number one thing people say they want a new library to be is "inviting."

A third public input meeting is scheduled May 11. Architects say they hope to have final site decisions made by the end of May.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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