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updated: 9/17/2013 5:22 AM

Carol Stream library trustees: Hang on to new site, make it a park for now

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  • Carol Stream Public Library trustees favor keeping a new site that someday could house a replacement for their old library, seen here, and be a park for now.

       Carol Stream Public Library trustees favor keeping a new site that someday could house a replacement for their old library, seen here, and be a park for now.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

A majority of Carol Stream library board trustees favor signing an agreement with the park district to put a park on vacant land once intended for a new library.

Such an arrangement, they say, would allow the library to pursue a sale of the 7.5-acre property at 2N540 Kuhn Road at a later date when market conditions improve.

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That could also mean, other trustees have said, that the board could hold onto the property and pursue another referendum for a new library, which follows the defeat of three previous ones at the ballot box.

Five of the seven library trustees who attended the board's facilities committee meeting Monday expressed their preferences for what should be done with the land, in advance of an anticipated vote of the full board Wednesday night to pursue an intergovernmental agreement with the park district.

The committee reviewed results of an online survey taken by 541 residents that found 48 percent favor the library holding onto the land and partnering with the park district, at the same time a plan is developed to address the future public use of the space or use of proceeds realized from a sale.

About 14 percent alone favored retention of the land while a strategic plan is developed, and about 12 percent alone favored the park district agreement option.

Officials have suggested the park district could lease the land -- perhaps for $1 a year -- and maintain a passive park with benches, picnic tables, gardens and shade structures.

Almost a quarter of survey respondents want the board to pursue sale of the property for a commercial development, currently a proposed two-story, 120-bed nursing/rehabilitation center. The board has a pending contract for $1.35 million from ManorCare, a Toledo, Ohio-based nursing home company, but the sale process has been put on hold since a new board majority was seated in May.

Board President Jim Bailey and several new trustees from the Support the Library slate have previously expressed reservations with a sale -- but now that the resident survey results are in, they're officially declaring where they stand.

"I'm not surprised by the results based on the conversations I've had with a number of people in the community in the last few months," Bailey said Monday. "It seemed like the best plan to them was to hang onto it until the market gets better. We can think about selling it at some point if we don't use it for a new library."

Trustee Ed Jourdan, chairman of the facilities committee, said the library should have a plan in place about how the proceeds from a potential sale would be spent.

"I came into this very open-minded with no predetermined opinion. I do not see the justification, at this moment today, to sell the property, especially without even having a plan in place for where the money's going to go with that."

Trustee David DeRango, a longtime opponent of plans to build a new library, said the survey results barely account for 1 percent of the village's population, and as a result, aren't "really enough to weigh this survey anyway you look at it." He said he favors working with the buyer to complete the sale.

"We have a bona fide offer for $1.3 million," DeRango said. "The surplus would go to the library and that would be for a lot of good. It would hold off raising taxes for the taxpayers. We could use it for internal programs, updating (the library) and making things better."

Trustees Nadia Sheikh and Patricia Johnson also said Monday they favor a partnership with the park district.

The full library board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 616 Hiawatha Drive.

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