June 8 Statement on Property Purchase from Board President Jason Brandt

During the Monday, June, 8, 2020 Helen Plum Library Board of Trustees meeting, the Board members voted 6-1 to ratify and approve a contract for the purchase of the 401 S. Main St. property (former Mr. Z’s Supermarket) as the location for the new Library building.  In addition, the Board unanimously approved the purchases of the 425 S. Main St. building and the adjacent easement.

We continued to pursue ongoing discussions with the Lombard Park District for more than 3 years, because the Board members and many Lombard residents firmly believed that building a new library at its current location, adjacent to Lilacia Park, benefitted the community, the Park, the Library and Lombard’s downtown. It would also continue to honor Colonel Plum’s original vision for his donation to Lombard in honor of his wife, Helen: That it be used for a public park and a library.

Last fall, in a final attempt to come to a satisfactory agreement with the Park District, Library Board members once again considered the following November 2017 proposal, which they had been told by the Park was the only option it would discuss.

The Library was not able to accept their proposal at that time for a number of reasons, described in detail in a summary of negotiations here.

As it had been several years since the referendum had passed, and increased tax revenue for the project was being collected, the Library Board made the difficult decision to consider alternate locations, which unfortunately would require purchasing property.

In the late fall of 2019, a Library representative reached out to the owners of the Mr. Z’s property with a series of offers below the public asking price of $2.295 million. Each of those offers were rejected and the owners provided their appraisal and their justification of the non-negotiable asking price.

During the February 2020 Board meeting, our financial advisor presented a review of the current Helen Plum fiscal situation to the Library Board. Graphic demonstrating accumulation of Library funds. The Library’s architect and construction manager also provided a rough estimate of the cost differential between building an unsatisfactory facility at the current location versus the 401 S. Main St. property.

One of the cost saving factors of the move to the Mr. Z’s property is the elimination of the need to move to an interim location, as would be the case with staying at Maple Street. The Library saves approximately $1.5 million in moving, leasing and retrofit costs for a temporary location. It also alleviates the need to once again severely reduce our services to the community, as services would be limited in an interim space. Investing that money in a new permanent facility, rather than a temporary one, is a fiscally responsible decision.

The Board was also presented with architectural design considerations of both properties. Some advantages to the 401 S. Main property include access to adjacent parking and no need for any intergovernmental agreements. Click here to view the benefits of the Main Street location.

Ultimately, the Main Street Library building will be able to serve our community better than the Maple Street building plans we attempted to come to an agreement on with the Park District.

Knowing the benefits of relocating to the 401 S. Main property with minimal cost difference and the knowledge that the new library will be able to be paid for within the 20-year time span as explained at the referendum, the Library Board reached the unanimous decision to offer the seller their asking price of $2.295 million. The owners agreed to that cost and the Library Board was in the process of negotiating the terms of the contract when the Library building was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board was scheduled to review and possibly approve the contract at the April Board meeting, but because of the closure, the Library Board did not meet in April or May.

The approved terms of the contract allow 60 days for the Library team to conduct due diligence testing on the 401 S. Main property site and 300 days for the Library to get zoning approvals from the Village of Lombard. The closing costs for the three properties are $2.295 million for 401 S. Main, $340,000 for 425 S. Main, and $20,000 plus all closing costs for the easement parcel.

During the next few months, a budget and new design drawings for the Main St. building, as well as an anticipated construction timeline, will be made available to the community. We will continue to update our website as information becomes available. A series of Open House meetings will be held to preview the designs and features of the new building and to have conversations with residents.

The current 110 W. Maple building will remain the interim Library until construction is completed at the Main Street location. A timeline is currently being developed that includes the due diligence period, the design and preparation of construction and bidding documents, the permitting process, and the construction of the new Library building.

During this interim period, the Library Board will also begin consideration of the future for the current facility. As the Library Board has always hoped to remain at its current location, no determination on this has been discussed at this time.

The Library staff and Board hope that our community will look forward to the new facility on Main St. We appreciate the time and attention of the Village and Park officials, and thank the Village for providing technical support and guidance throughout the process. We are especially grateful to residents who supported the Library’s efforts to do what we determined is best for our community as we moved through this process. Like many, we have been frustrated and dismayed at the extensive delay to begin construction.

As the Village of Lombard begins healing from the COVID-19 crisis, a new library in the heart of our Main Street corridor will serve as a beacon of hope and a place to support the well-being of community members. The new library project is an infrastructure project that will provide jobs and will be completely funded at the existing taxpayer rate with no new increases. It has taken longer than anticipated, but we hope we can all embrace the path forward, as we watch together a new library rise on Lombard’s Main Street.


Jason Brandt
Helen Plum Library Board President

Leave a Reply