Before the Carol Stream Library board decides whether to proceed with the sale of its Kuhn Road property, officials say they'll seek public input.
The board is planning a variety of ways to gauge the public pulse, including holding a town-hall meeting, posting a survey on the library website, and perhaps sending a direct mail survey to homes.
The proposed sale of the 7.5 acres at 2N540 Kuhn Road has been considered since last November, and a $1.35 million contract has been pending since April with ManorCare, a Toledo, Ohio-based nursing home company.
A final vote to approve a contract with ManorCare was scheduled to take place May 8, but the old board majority, led by former President Mike Wade, never got the chance. After Wade's five-person Support Your Library slate was swept in the April election by current board President Jim Bailey's Support the Library slate, the new board members -- many of whom have expressed reservations with a sale -- were sworn in two weeks earlier than planned.
The library purchased the land in 2003 for $750,000 with intentions of building a new facility there. But voters rejected calls for a new library in three separate referendum questions -- the impetus for Wade to propose the land be sold.
Trustee Ed Jourdan, who ran on the STL slate, said during a board meeting Wednesday that he personally was "vehemently" opposed to building a library at the time of the referendum campaigns, but isn't convinced the property needs to be sold until he hears what residents think.
"I'm no one's rubber stamp," Jourdan told board members. "I am looking to decide what is not best for you or myself; I'm looking at what's best for the library. I need facts, not hearsay. I want to see input from the village about what they feel."
An online survey could be posted on the library's website in the next week or two, while a direct mail survey, if officials decide to send one, could take at least a month to complete, according to library Director Susan Westgate.
A town-hall meeting with members of the library board could take place during that time as well.
Bailey said the board eventually will consider the question of whether to sell the property, but right now new board members are bringing themselves up to speed on the issue and doing their "due diligence" in looking into possible uses for the land.
While the vacant land isn't the last piece of open space in Carol Stream, Bailey said it is one of the last few suitable pieces of property left for a new library. However, he said there is "no plan whatsoever under discussion" to build a new library.
"That can absolutely be put to rest. That is absolutely not true," Bailey said. "We are openly looking at every possible opportunity to use the land for the community in the best possible way."
One option is for the library to lease the land to the park district, which has proposed a passive park for the space.
Park board Vice President Wynn Ullman said the district could install a variety of things: gardens, a walking path, benches, picnic tables and shade structures.
Bailey said park Director Arnie Biondo suggested during a recent meeting that the space could be a "picnic park," where residents could grill food and have room to throw around Frisbees.
The two agencies could propose an intergovernmental agreement in which the library leases the land to the park district for a $1 a year, officials said.
"We come here with a very open mind," park board Commissioner Brenda Gramann told library board members. "If you choose to hold onto the property as you ponder what to do with it in next one, five, 10 years, we'd be agreeable to an agreement that works for the taxpayers in the community to provide a useful space while it is vacant."
Bailey said he thinks a park use would be appropriate.
"It preserves the option for some future board if they want to try and build a library -- they have that option," he said.