For the future of Southdale Library, the philosophy is ‘community first’ |

Small groups of Edina and Richfield residents took notes and used markers to share what they wished to see or not see in a new Southdale Library site. (Submitted photo)

Tasked with the prospect of redesigning the Southdale Library, the Edina Housing and Redevelopment Agency decided it was time to turn the tables.

“Often times, developers have already done some thinking before presenting a project,” Edina Economic Developer Bill Neuendorf said. “Then when presented, the neighbors find problems. We thought instead, let’s talk to the neighborhoods first.”

During the past several months, the Edina HRA has hosted a series of community meetings to find out what was desired or what should be left out of a new library.

Armed with markers, maps and post-it notes, several dozen people with a vested interest in the Southdale Library voiced their opinions about the site, with a tentative construction date of 2020.

In the first round of meetings in December, roughly 150 voiced their initial ideas and concerns about what could or couldn’t be included at the roughly 8-acre site.

As it progressed, the meetings involved more focused, small group discussions between a nearly equal Richfield and Edina base, with roughly 60 people at each of two meetings in 2017.

Hennepin County owns the Southdale Library site, but in early 2015 realized that the cost of renovation was too high. At roughly $15 million, renovations would cost half of new building or series of buildings.

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