Progress, next steps expected for library, park plans in Vernon Hills
A decision on how quickly a well-known goal to expand parking at the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills can or should occur likely will fall to village officials in coming weeks.
"The library is so successful that almost every day there are times there's no parking for people," said Stephen Kershner, executive director of the branch of the Cook Memorial Library District.
But there are competing interests as the library wants to move quickly, while the Vernon Hills Park District wants to hold off until fall when it expects to receive word on a grant that could influence how the area is improved.
Located just south of Route 60 and across the street from Hawthorn Elementary District 73 schools, Aspen opened in 2010 as part of a $14 million project that included the renovation and expansion of the main library in downtown Libertyville.
The success of the branch causes a parking crunch at times and has forced the library to limit the number of attendees for some meetings, for example, Kershner said.
Expanding the lot on village-owned property to the south has been on the wish list since last fall, but village leaders prefer to see District 73, the Vernon Hills Park District and the library work together on a master plan for the area. Kershner said the library board has committed to pay for the lot if it gets the green light.
The park district owns about 2 acres south of the village parcel and has a big presence with its Sullivan Community Center and Family Aquatic Center. Those facilities and the library are on the east side of Aspen Drive about a quarter mile or so apart.
A discussion of future improvements there scheduled at a parks board meeting last week was tabled, as a library representative could not attend.
But the park district did receive a letter from the library saying it wants to add 121 spaces to meet current and future needs, according to Jeff Fougerousse, park district executive director. The library has 68 parking spaces now.
Fougerousse noted District 73 is still formulating plans for its facilities, and the park district is awaiting word on a state grant that is specifically targeted for major work at its Lakeview Fitness Center. Approval of the grant would provide a clearer focus of what might happen at Sullivan, he added.
"We would like to hold off on a large-scale parking lot until we know what everybody has planned," Fougerousse said.
"We just have some reservations on having that much parking improvements out there without knowing what specific plans we'll be moving forward with."
Kershner said library officials would like to proceed before the construction season slips away.
"We're the one with the immediate need," he said.
Village leaders would need to make a decision fairly quickly for that to happen this year. Village Manager John Kalmar said he will ask the village board if it wants to schedule a meeting with the park and library districts to discuss the progress of the plans and determine next steps.
"We'll wait for the village to have a meeting and whatever parties want to participate, we'll talk about it," Kershner said.