The brat fundraiser for the new Oregon library raised $79K on July 25, 2020.

A volunteer enjoys time with others and she quickly wraps freshly grilled brats and hot dogs at the brat fundraiser for the library at Ziggy’s BBQ Smokehouse and Ice Cream Parlor on Saturday, July 25.

The fundraising deadline for the new library capital campaign has passed, coming up just under $2 million short of its goal.

But the campaign was still able to amass some funds to bring a new library to Oregon’s Main Street amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting economic downturn. Staff at the joint Monday, Jan. 11, Village and Library Board meeting recognized this, giving their thanks to all capital campaign donors, and those who have helped the cause in other ways.

The original goal of the capital campaign was to raise the $4 million, with the village committing to borrow the remaining $6 million. The fundraiser kicked off full speed ahead with a “Love Your Library” event on Valentine’s Day at Firefly Coffeehouse and Artisan Cheese, with other affairs staff planned for 2020 to garner community excitement. But when the illness first reached the area in March 2020, the project faced delays as staff canceled and postponed those same events, and people isolated at home.

So the board has a choice to make, and that’s whether to commit even more money. Trustees directed their financial consulting firm, Ehlers, to examine the scope of that venture Jan. 11.

An Ehlers analysis will look at four borrowing possibilities, and assess how each amount impacts the future tax levy and the village’s Capital Improvement Plan. The library and village boards plan to examine and discuss the analysis at their next joint meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 22.

If the board were to increase how much it contributes to the project to $7.5, $8, $9 or even $10 million, construction on the new library could begin in 2021, village president Jeanne Carpenter said at the meeting.

Some trustees appeared satisfied with those amounts, while others wished to tread with caution.

Trustee Jerry Bollig said that with possibly giving more money to the new library, he wouldn’t want to jeopardize other village projects

“We have a senior center that desperately needs to be rebuilt,” Bollig said. “And to put it bluntly, Village Hall is in disrepair.”

To that, library director Jennifer Way pointed out the last estimate the project architect OPA Architects made when the project was in the conceptual phases, being at $10 million, was at “low investment levels” already.

Carpenter said she agreed with Bollig’s view, and that’s why the Ehlers analysis was an option on the table.

“Everyone knows we have to spend taxpayer dollars,” Carpenter said. “I’m interested to see the (Ehlers) report.”

Email Emilie Heidemann at emilie.heidemann@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.