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Deal near on Fairlawn artifacts

A compromise could be near to keep a portion of the Douglas County Historical Society's collection at Fairlawn Mansion. Tonight, the council goes behind closed doors to negotiate the purchase of the collection that gives the mansion built by lumb...

A compromise could be near to keep a portion of the Douglas County Historical Society's collection at Fairlawn Mansion.

Tonight, the council goes behind closed doors to negotiate the purchase of the collection that gives the mansion built by lumber baron Martin Pattison its Victorian splendor.

The city isn't planning to buy the entire collection, appraised at $221,000, just those pieces that are essential to the mansion, according to Sharon Kotter, executive vice president of the historical society.

"We're going to be negotiating on part of it, which is most of it," Kotter said. "We just basically agreed on a good compromise."

She said the historical society recognizes the need to maintain a number of the artifacts at Fairlawn and limitations on the city's budget in the current economy. However, the organization didn't want the city to undervalue or under-appreciate the collection.

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The city had originally offered the organization $125,000 for those pieces, an offer rejected by the historical society. The current offer is more favorable, according to Kotter.

Mayor Dave Ross agreed, although the current offer is the subject of negotiations during the closed session.

Under Wisconsin law, the council can negotiate in closed session, but the decision to purchase the collection and its price would require a public vote.

The city amended its agenda for tonight's meeting in anticipation of reaching an agreement. The council meets at 6:30 p.m. to consider purchasing the collection in open session.

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