Following the successful passage of the referendum to increase funding to the Helen Plum Library for a new building and additional operating revenue, the Board and Administrative team, along with architect Joe Huberty from Engberg Anderson and construction manager Jack Hayes have been hard at work developing plans for the new building and interim location.
The initial timeline for the project had the Library staff and materials scheduled to be relocated temporarily mid-summer of 2016. Demolition of the old building would begin at that time in an effort to complete the initial framework of the construction prior to the colder weather setting in. This would save costs by eliminating the need to winterize the construction work. Cost savings would also result from getting a large amount of the work done before 2018 when labor and materials costs would increase. The timeline would also alleviate concerns about keeping the Library in the old facility during the winter of 2017-18, where the risk of a failed boiler or a leaking plaza deck membrane is always a possibility.
Two major factors have affected this timeline. The first was the simple human mistake by the DuPage Election Commission who published notice of the November 8, 2016 election 3 days too soon (published 33 days vs. 30 days before the election). Legislation which provides a remedy for that error was signed by Governor Rauner on February 17, 2017.
The second factor is the Library’s ongoing negotiations with the Lombard Park District. The Library presented an initial concept plan to the Lombard Park District’s Board of Park Commissioners at their Board meeting on March 29, 2016. The Park Board asked about protection of the Coach House and how flood control would be handled. No additional questions or concerns were discussed at that meeting. Executive Director Barb Kruser followed up that meeting with a request to discuss drafting an Intergovernmental Agreement that would cover aspects such as property boundaries, protection of the Coach House and air rights restrictions.
In April, 2016, the Park Board responded with a letter stating that any contracts, IGAs or joint position statements with the Library prior to passage of the referendum would be potential violations of the Illinois Election Code. The Park Board also declined to meet with the Library Board to discuss any of these issues.
The Library voted to go to referendum on May 10, 2016 and continued to inform the community about the need for a new facility. A concept drawing showing an interior that would include more study rooms, a teen space, a creative technology lab, a common area with a vending café and more. The exterior showcased how the new building could enhance Lilacia Park and improve the Henderson Plaza. Library staff and Board members did not receive any additional formal feedback from Park District officials on those concepts during the duration of the campaign.
Following the successful referendum, Barb Kruser set a meeting with the Executive Director in December 2016. She was told that the Park District preferred to do a land swap with the Library and offered the Southland Park property. The Library had previously paid for a study on this property and determined that it was not suitable for a 50,000 sq ft public library. In April of 2006, the Library Board made a resolution to remain on the property they owned. The majority of Lombardians made it clear that they wanted the Library to remain downtown near the park, train and other historical landmarks like the Maple Street Chapel and the Lombard Historical Society.
In an effort to stay completely within the Library’s property, several new building concepts were presented to a Park Liaison group. The Library asked for a waiver of the air rights to the west of the current building (over the plaza deck) so that one continuous second floor could be constructed. In exchange, the Library would give a large portion of its property for expansion of Lilacia Park just north of the new building.
Following that offer, Park officials discussed the possibility of a land exchange with the Library for property in the Lombard Common. Library architects saw multiple challenges, including traffic and parking increases, adjacent resident concerns and a very expensive storm water retention system. No formal offer of exchange was presented to the Library.
The Library architects have developed a new design concept for a 50,000 sq ft building that will be within the Library property lines and will not infringe on the Park’s air rights. The Library looks forward to working with Park officials in the coming weeks and months to agree on construction easements and other building decisions. The window of opportunity to begin demolition and initial construction in 2017 is rapidly closing. Should the project need to be delayed until 2018, a 3% increase in labor and materials costs are expected to be added to the budget. Also, remaining in the old Library building for an additional winter could mean that the boiler and plaza deck membrane could fail and either need expensive repairs prior to demolition or to temporarily close until moved into an interim space.