Following an occasionally contentious debate, the Carol Stream Library board has decided to delay the sale of land once earmarked for a new library and instead to temporarily offer it for use by the park district.
Officials say the decision, approved Wednesday in a 5-2 vote, will allow the library to pursue the sale of the 7.5 acres at 2N540 Kuhn Road at a later date when market conditions improve.
"Pursuing an IGA (intergovernmental agreement) is a win-win for residents," said Trustee Ed Jourdan, chairman of the library's facilities committee. "That money is still going to be there in the future. We still have the option of selling that land."
Board President Jim Bailey, with four other trustees elected in April on the Support the Library slate, noted that "a majority of voters in the last election rejected the old board's plan, which was to sell the property. I believe we are following closely with their wishes."
A recent resident survey found 48 percent of the 541 respondents wanted the library to retain the land, at least temporarily, and allow the park district to use it for open space. That plan, supporters say, will allow the library to create a strategic plan for the long-term use of the property.
Another 26 percent favored some variation of that basic idea.
"We don't want the land to sit there and do nothing," Bailey said. "It may take three to four years for the market to get ready to sell it for what it's worth. That's a prime piece of real estate. We shouldn't be giving it away."
The library bought the site in 2003 with the intent to construct a new facility there, but voters rejected that plan in three separate referendum questions
The board in April agreed on a $1.35 million pending contract with ManorCare, a Toledo-Ohio based nursing home company, but the sale was put on hold when a new board majority was seated in May. ManorCare's proposal was for a two-story, 120-bed nursing/rehabilitation center.
Trustee David DeRango, a longtime opponent of plans to build a new library, questioned the value of a survey that barely accounts for 1 percent of the village population.
"This is more or less ignoring a bona fide offer that is on the table with a contract," DeRango said. "We have an offer. We accepted the offer. We have an obligation to the buyer to deal in good faith."
Trustee Dominick Jeffrey, also voting against the IGA, said a potential sale "is a $1.3 million issue that can't be ignored."
"We're not in the park business," Jeffery said.
Trustees Nadia Sheikh, Patricia Johnson and Bonita Berryman-Gilliam voted in favor of pursuing the agreement with the park district.
Jourdan expressed concern about selling the property without a plan in place of how to use the money and a general weariness with the long-running debate.
"We are so stuck on this one issue that we're going to hurt ourselves in the process," Jourdan said. "The bottom line is, at this point in time, most of the people seem in agreement that now is not the right time to sell the property."