Helen Plum Library Holds First Community Engagement Meeting
The first of six scheduled meetings to present information on the Next Chapter building project was held at the Library on Saturday, January 16 at 2pm in the Auditorium. Twenty-five residents were in attendance, including representatives from the Village of Lombard and Helen Plum Library Trustees.
Moderated by Communications Manager, Sue Wilsey, attendees heard presentations by Director Barb Kruser, construction consultant Jack Hayes, President of Frederick Quinn and Architect Joseph Huberty, Partner at the Engberg Anderson firm.
Kruser discussed the type of feedback she frequently receives from members of the community, including adding more popular materials, more handicapped parking, more quiet spaces and more study rooms. Kruser indicated, “The guiding principle for the planning process is to create an efficient and cost-effective plan that significantly improves library service for the community.”
Hayes presented the Facility Condition Assessment Report his firm conducted, providing a master maintenance schedule for planned capital improvements, along with financial projections for their costs. The complete report and detailed summary are available at helenplumnextchapter.org
The Strategic Facility Plan, determining the overall space needs of the Library District, was presented by Huberty. He also showed slides illustrating how emerging library service patterns are being incorporated into spaces at many other area libraries. The Engberg Anderson report is also available at helenplumnextchapter.org
Audience members were then given the opportunity to ask questions of the experts and the Library staff, and to offer their comments. In response to questions about the cost to the public, Wilsey said that compared to all of their peer public libraries, the Helen Plum Library currently has the lowest per capita cost. Although a number of the participants indicated that they preferred the Library to stay at its current location, there were those that brought up other possible locations, specifically the vacant property at Main and Parkside, and Mr. Z’s.
The old DuPage Theater site at Main and Parkside had been previously considered as a location for the Helen Plum Library in 2000. At that time, architects who developed the possible plans for that land reported that the property was not suitable from an architectural design point of view. It was also not deemed large enough to accommodate the Library building and necessary parking spaces. In addition, there were concerns about traffic, pedestrian safety, and underground water.
Currently, that property is owned by the Village of Lombard. Their Board of Trustees recently hired consultants to perform a market analysis of the property and they plan to make a decision on development for a tax revenue generating entity in 2016.
What about Mr. Z’s property? The property is currently on the market for $2.25 million. Any new building construction plan undertaken by the Helen Plum Library would require a referendum for funding. The current plan to present a referendum to the public in November of 2016 would mean that if approved, funding for the project, allowing for sale and issuance of bonds, could take up to a year. The owners of Mr. Z’s would need a contract and down payment to secure the sale of the property and the Library currently does not have the finances to make a deal like that at this time. Also, the former grocery store is only 28,000 sq. feet, so the Library would need to add a second floor to meet the needed space increases (the current Library is 34,000 sq. ft.). Structural capacity of an addition to the current Mr. Z’s building to house the weight of multiple bookshelves would also be a concern.
Questions about building restrictions at the current Maple St. site were also asked, and Kruser said she and some of the Library Board members will be meeting with Park District representatives in early February.
Several asked for specific details, such as the cost of the project, the plans for a new or renovated building and the temporary Library location. Huberty indicated that he is currently working on those plans and will have some particulars to present to the public at the Community Engagement meetings in February. Those meetings will be held on Saturday, February 13 and February 20 at 2pm, Tuesday, February 23 at 2pm and Thursday, February 25 at 7pm.