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posted: 1/27/2013 6:20 PM

Aurora gets $10.8 million grant to fund new library

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  • The Aurora Public Library has received a $10.8 million state grant that will be applied toward the cost of building a new downtown facility shown in this rendering.

      The Aurora Public Library has received a $10.8 million state grant that will be applied toward the cost of building a new downtown facility shown in this rendering.
    Courtesy Aurora Public Library

 
By Amy Roth
Aurora Public Library

The Aurora Public Library has been awarded a $10.8 million state grant that will be applied toward the $28 million cost of building a new downtown library.

Construction of the new facility is set to begin this spring.

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Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White notified the library last week that it had received the Public Library Construction Act grant.

White formally will present the check to the library during a ceremony in March.

"The Aurora Public Library board of directors and I are extremely appreciative to Secretary of State White and the Illinois General Assembly, including our local lawmakers State Sen. Linda Holmes and State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, for approving the program and releasing the funds," said Eva Luckinbill, library executive director.

"This grant will lower the bond debt for the construction of the new library, thereby lowering the amount Aurora city property taxpayers will contribute toward the new library and other improvements to the library system."

Luckinbill praised Bonnie Sebby, special projects librarian, for her work in writing the grant and managing the application process. City Finance Director Brian Caputo was instrumental in assisting the library with various fiscal compliance requirements for the grant.

Luckinbill said Aurora aldermen, who approved the sale of bonds for the new library in April 2012, also deserve thanks for their part in making sure the library will be able to fund a state-of-the art facility that is planned to open next year.

Library board President Jeffry Butler said he had been cautiously optimistic about the possibility of the grant award since the library made the application last April.

"I can honestly say that the new Main Library and receiving the grant is the highlight of my tenure on the board," Butler said.

"I am thrilled with the support of Mayor Tom Weisner, the city council, and library staff who have worked diligently toward the new library project. I am really looking forward to breaking ground and seeing the building start to take shape."

The 92,000-square-foot Main Library will be built on the corner of River and Benton streets on a parcel of land that was purchased by the library in 2009. The firm of Cordogan Clark & Associates was chosen as the architects for the project in 2010.

Joining that firm on the project are R.C. Wegman Construction Company as the construction management firm, Schoppe Design Associates as the landscape architect and KDI Design Interiors as the interior design firm.

The current Main Library opened in 1904 and was built with a $50,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The building, located on Stolp Island, was expanded in 1969.

Once the new building is complete, it is the intent of the library board to sell the existing library building. The city has the first right of refusal to purchase the property.

Public Library Construction Act Grants provide state matching funds to support design and new construction, remodeling, renovation of maintenance of public libraries in Illinois.

The funding of the state's share is made in payments for project costs upon submittal of documentation by the library.

The state's total appropriation for Construction Act Grants for 2013 was $50 million.

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