New Lombard library plan: Higher costs, more changes

Lombard library officials again are changing their plans for a new building to resolve a monthslong dispute with the park district.

The latest proposal calls for constructing a facility with two linked pavilions - one for the public and the other for staff.

Officials say the plan should resolve long-simmering air rights issues with the park district, but also will cost more than the original $22.3 million target price. Exactly how much more hasn't yet been determined.

Voters approved a property tax increase in November after officials promised to tear down and replace the existing Helen M. Plum Memorial Library at 110 W. Maple St.

But the project has been stalled because library officials haven't been able to get permission from the park district to build more than one story on land that used to be part of Lilacia Park.

Last month, library officials offered a design for a building that complied with almost all the air rights issues, but park commissioners rejected it.

So library trustees on Tuesday agreed to pursue a new design "that will not encroach on the park's air rights," Sue Wilsey, library communications manager, said.

The park district has air rights because it gave the library land on several occasions, including when the existing library was built in 1963 and when its first floor was expanded in 1977.

For example, the roof of the library addition was made into a plaza that overlooks the park as part of the 1977 deal. Even though the library owns the plaza, the park district owns the air space above it.

While the new plan won't require the park district to give up any air rights around the library, Wilsey said the end result will be "terrific."

"I want to make it clear to the public that this plan is still going to offer the same benefits to the community as the original plan," she said.

It just won't look like the drawings advertised before the election.

The proposal calls for the library's west pavilion to have two floors and primarily be used for office space and storage. It also would have a drive-through window.

The east pavilion would feature two floors on land the library entirely owns, but just one floor on land where the park district has air rights. The existing plaza deck also would be rebuilt.

Under the revised plan, the combined pavilions are expected to offer about 50,000 square feet of space.

Because the park district has air rights all the way to the down the ground in some areas, the pavilions can't be fully connected. Instead, the plan calls for an enclosed walkway to be built between them.

"The public portion of the library will be everything that's on the east," Wilsey said. "So the public will really not be accessing that walkway unless they're coming to visit somebody."

Wilsey acknowledges library trustees would prefer to have the pavilions fully connected.

"But they understand the community wants its library - and residents are already paying additional taxes for it," she said. "They want to move forward."

The library still needs easements from the park district for the project to proceed.

Wilsey said the project's cost will exceed projections because "the original budgeted plan was for a building to be constructed right now. So we've got a year's worth of increase in materials and labor costs."

In addition, the new design will require "a lot more materials" than a single building, she said.

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