Lombard library to make another land swap offer to park district

Plum board to appeal again to park board

Several months after Lombard Park District rejected a proposed land swap, Helen M. Plum Memorial Library officials expect to make another offer to the district to acquire a site for their long-stalled project to build a new facility.

This time, the library plans to offer the park district 1.19 acres - including its existing building at 110 W. Maple St. - in exchange for 3.5 acres off Grace Street at Lombard Common Park. The library will ask for 1.5 acres less than it originally sought.

Library officials say they hope the park board will consider the revised land swap proposal during its next regular meeting on Oct. 22.

"The ball would be in the park district's court once again," library spokeswoman Sue Wilsey said. "They will have to see if what we're going to be asking for is acceptable. If not, we may have to consider other alternatives."

It's been nearly three years since Lombard voters supported a property tax increase so Helen Plum officials could pursue a promise to tear down the existing library and replace it with a 50,000-square-foot building.

But the project has faced repeated delays.

Library officials, for example, have been unable to come up with a plan for the current library site that passes muster with the park district, which owns neighboring Lilacia Park. And village officials have said the plan commission won't review any project for that location until the library and park district agree.

So earlier this year, library officials started seeking other sites, including 5 acres at Lombard Common.

But in late June, park board President Sarah Richardt notified Plum officials the district couldn't accept a land swap offer, in part because the request for 5 acres along Grace seemed "excessive."

On Wednesday, park Director Paul Friedrichs said park board members will consider the library's offer if and when they get it. Still, Friedrichs said, it could be difficult for the board to accept the revised proposal because the 3.5 acres includes one of the district's main soccer fields.

"It's going to affect over 1,000 people in the community playing soccer," he said. "Our mission is to take care of those folks."

Another potential problem is the library previously asked the park district to take the existing Plum building "as is." The cost of demolishing a structure as old as the library - it was built in 1963 and expanded in 1977 - could be significant, park officials say. "It would probably cost $750,000 to demolish," Friedrichs said.

Library Director Barb Kruser said in an email Wednesday it hasn't been determined if the library will raze the building and provide the park district with a clean piece of property. "That is a decision the library board has to make," she wrote.

Back in June, park officials suggested other options for a possible land swap. They include exchanging the library's 1.19 acres for 2.35 acres in the northeast corner of Lombard Common Park, 2.35 acres in the southwest corner Southland Park, or 2.35 acres at another mutually agreeable location.

A fourth option would be for the library to reconsider a November 2017 park district offer to let the new facility be constructed at the current library site if both sides can agree on a variety of issues.

"We've tried to give them solutions to their dilemma," Friedrichs said. "But evidently, none of them have been good enough for them."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.