Is the Aspen Drive Library getting an expansion? We may know soon

They don't yet have architect, a cost estimate or a construction schedule, but Cook Memorial Public Library District officials are getting closer to formally announcing a much-anticipated expansion of the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills.

The urgency is growing because two other agencies - the Vernon Hills Park District and Hawthorn School District 73 - are considering teaming to build a school for kindergartners adjacent to the Sullivan Community Center, which is just south of the library.

During a finance committee meeting Thursday afternoon, Cook Memorial board President Bonnie Quirke said she thinks library officials "should not wait" to announce an Aspen expansion.

"I think the climate is right," Quirke said.

Located at 710 Aspen Drive, the library opened in 2010 as part of a $14 million construction project that also included the expansion and renovation of the Cook Park Library in Libertyville.

The 20,000-square-foot library was an immediate hit with Vernon Hills-area residents, who for years had been relegated to using a small branch library in their town or driving north to the Cook Park Library.

Many even headed south to the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire.

However, officials quickly realized the facility was too small to meet demand. On some days, tables and chairs are hard to come by.

"That library is really a sardine can," Quirke said.

Library officials developed several expansion options about a year ago. Some included the construction of an unfinished lower level, while others called for a finished lower level.

Cost estimates at the time ranged from $6 million to $8.5 million. Today, the low end of the range is about $4 million, library Director David Archer said.

The expansion plans may take a big step forward next week.

On Tuesday, the library board is expected to choose an architectural firm for the project. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Cook Park Library, 413 N. Milwaukee Ave.

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