The Geneva Library is buying a shuttered factory for its future home. But don't expect to check books out there anytime soon.
The board voted 6-1 Tuesday to spend $2 million to buy the Cetron plant on Richards Street. The purchase also includes an office building on the northeast corner of Richards and State streets, and a house in between, all owned by Indigo Properties.
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"We're so excited about it," Library Board President Esther Barclay said Wednesday.
The board has not hired an architect to come up with a design, and it will need voters' approval to borrow money to build a new facility. There is no set timeline.
Barclay said the library proposes building a 60,000-square-foot facility on the 2.25 acres. It's current facility is about 40,000 square feet. State library standards call for 1 to 2 square feet per library district resident, she said. The library district has about 30,000 residents, and Barclay said the board expects that that may grow to 40,000.
The board has been looking for a new site since before Barclay came on board eight years ago. It has a right-of-first-refusal on the old Sixth Street School, which is owned by Kane County. But it kept its eyes open for other downtown sites. Representatives of the Cetron building, which has been closed for many years, approached the library last fall, Barclay said. City officials also urged the library board to consider the site, she said.
The board has been setting money aside for a land purchase. It will also be able to cover the costs of demolishing the Cetron building, which it expects to do soon after closing "because it is a safety issue," Barclay said. She plans to ask the Geneva Fire Department if it would like to conduct training exercises there first, and the board is interested in salvaging building materials for possible reuse in a new library.
Barclay said buying the site now made sense. The library wants to stay in or near downtown Geneva, and large enough sites in the downtown are scarce. When the economy improves, new residential construction in the library district may resume, sending more patrons to the library. "Our poor library is not going to be able to support that," she said.
The current library was built in 1908 and expanded in the late 1990s. In its 2008-09 annual report, the latest available, it estimated there were 678 visitors a day, and that patrons checked out 624,421 items that year.
The board expects to close on the Cetron deal in September, Barclay said.
"Personally, I would like it (the new building) to be well under way within five years," she said.