February 16, 2009

Karas opposes library funds in stimulus wish-list

Mayoral candidate and former alderman Pete Karas came out today against the City of Racine's largest request for stimulus dollars -- $36 million for a new library out of a total wish-list of $73.9 million. He called for the city to re-evaluate its request and allocate the money "in a way that does not cause a loss of services and business" to city residents. The library has offered to purchase land north of Spring Street off Green Bay Road for a library to serve residents who live west of downtown. No stimulus funds have yet been awarded.

Karas' statement said:

“I am deeply troubled that city government is proposing to use $36 million of valuable stimulus dollars to relocate the Racine Public Library outside the borders of the City of Racine. The City of Racine government should serve the people of Racine and not spend tax money to move our valued library to a less accessible place.

“This is the wrong thing to do on so many fronts,” Karas notes. “The Library draws city residents and non-residents downtown and these people also frequent downtown businesses. How many already scarce dollars will be lost by our local businesses if these people are now heading to a library in Mount Pleasant?

“The people of Racine elect leaders to represent their interests and not those of our surrounding communities. As mayor, I pledge to put Racine first when making decisions that affect our residents and our local economy. Racine has so many more cultural offerings than our suburbs and we need to expand, not reduce them, if we are to continue to grow as an urban center of choice.”

Karas applauded the request for Racine Promise, a program that would afford a free college education to high school graduates, and several of the environmental initiatives.

“If we are going to be asking for millions of dollars of stimulus money, I would propose that these ‘green’ initiatives be expanded in the proposals,” noted Karas. “I would like to see more infrastructure investment in such things as renewable energy programs and sustainable ecofriendly neighborhood projects.

Karas running on a platform of local jobs, safe streets, responsive government, and essential services.


  1. Good points, Pete.

    It is utterly amazing that the City requests stimulus dollars to move one of its services outside of the City.

  2. Wasn't moving the Library out of the city originally former Mayor Becker's idea? I'm sure that land the library is currently on is worth a lot of money.

  3. It certainly is not worth $36M plus the cost of the loss of services!

    DON'T move the library out of the city!

  4. I am n favor of building an additional library to serve the residents in western Racine County - but I question the need to build one that is twice as big as the one downtown. One only has to look at the popularity of Amazon's Kindle to see that downloading books onto digital devices will soon be as popular as downloading music. In the future, libraries will function more as places to go to obtain information, whether it is electronic or on paper, and less as places to store a vast number of books. I think any additional library should be a small one that emphasizes computer and Internet services. The only reason why the library would be pushing to build a library twice as big s the current one is if it wants to shut down the one downtown, which would be a blow to downtown businesses and residents who live close to downtown.

  5. All of you are right. Becker DID want to tear it down and sell the land. NOW though, they want a second library for the county. I also ask why??????

  6. Can someone please clarify for me if they are proposing to move the library out of the city completely or if they want to open a branch? I am hearing conflicting information.


  7. Either way it is a bad idea.

    If they move it, the city loses the services.

    If they want an additional one, how in creation will they pay to operate it?

  8. Thank you, Pete. Is there something wrong with our current library? The location is a good one for everyone, plus we have bookmobiles positioned in and around the city. Is this another Becker idea?

  9. Urban Pioneer2/17/2009 4:34 PM

    Hey this idea is not entirely bad. Let's recreate one central library which will better serve the whole City and surrounding areas. The property where the WestGate theater was is perfect. Bus convenience, plenty of free parking. Right on Hwy 20. expandable if needed. It would also free up that prime piece of real estate for a nice Hotel or Condo Tower with Lake views and perhaps a high end restaurant, Easy access to both festival and Memorial Hall. Most importantly A building on that site would actually house people who will support Downtown business. Let's be honest not many people drive to the Library and then spend money Downtown too. If it was located where I suggested it would be surrounded by similar businesses that are also in the City.

    Imagine Johnny has a project and needs to use the City Library...You need to go grocery shopping and get the oil changed..perfect drop off Johnny do your shopping, change the oil, and then pick up Johnny and take him home.
    Rather than all the way downtown, now maybe you could pick up a nice piece of art while Johnny is checking out his books..but he first scenario is much more common.

    Don't get me wrong, I want the best for Downtown, but frankly the Library really doesn't add anything to the community in it's current location that wouldn't be equaled in another locale.
    It's mostly Computer users now anyway. and every Coffee shop in town has computers, most of us have computer access at home or work, or school. And the Virtual library is nearly here. Within 5-10 years every book ever written will be available online..
    We could do what I have suggested for less than 10 Million dollars, and we could probably regain half that value for the Real estate on the Lake.

  10. I don't expect Racine to act in the interests of those whom have survived in racine at the bottom of the income chain. Racine was, is, and seems to be staying, a 'loathe the poor' city...as the poor get blamed for everything wrong with Racine.

  11. I think that if the library would move from the city. It would be another bad day for the City of Racine. Why don't they build this new bigger library inside the city borders. It could be closer to Mt. Pleasant or Caledonia as long as it is with in the city limits unless the 2 communities that it will benefit start to pay for the services instead of having the city residents pay for most of it.