Sixth Street School tear down costs escalate for Geneva Library

Asbestos, underground tank at Sixth Street School may cast doubt on sale to library

 
 
Updated 3/6/2015 7:10 AM
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  • The Sixth Street School at 210 S. 6th in Geneva was set to be the new home of the Geneva Library. But costly asbestos removal and demolition may force library officials to reconsider.

    The Sixth Street School at 210 S. 6th in Geneva was set to be the new home of the Geneva Library. But costly asbestos removal and demolition may force library officials to reconsider.

Demolition sticker shock stemming from asbestos and an old underground storage tank may jeopardize Kane County's sale of the Sixth Street School property to the Geneva Public Library.

The two taxing bodies approved the sale in January. However, the deal included an escape clause for the library if the expense of demolishing the school to make way for a new library building cost more than $300,000.

County officials received bids from seven companies on Feb. 25. The low bid totals for all the work came via a reverse auction process and came to $447,100, nearly 50 percent more than the library agreed to pay.

Don Biggs, the county's operations staff executive, said asbestos runs throughout the floors, ceilings and windows of the old school and the gym. That, combined with the costs of removing an underground storage tank, pushed the price tag beyond the parameters of the sale agreement.

Biggs told a committee of county board members this week that he has already notified the library board about the cost escalation. They are discussing how to handle it, Biggs said.

Library board President Bob Shiffler said in an email that the board has not yet made a decision about the higher-than-expected costs.

"We are continuing discussions with the county and are hopeful that we can reach a mutually agreeable solution," Shiffler said.

Library officials planned to draw on reserves to pay for the purchase. The library would have to borrow money to fund construction of a new library on the old school site if the purchase moves forward.

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen told his board he is hopeful both taxing bodies can find "some kind of appropriate way to work through this."

Before the demolition hiccup, the sale was expected to close this October.

The library board's next meeting is March 26, but the full county board is set to vote on awarding the demolition contracts next Tuesday.

Both the library and the county have refrained from extensive public comment regarding the costs and terms of the sale. That's typical in land sale deals that involve public dollars.

The full county board is also set to vote on a lease agreement that will provide new office space for the Kane County Regional Office of Education, which currently occupies the old school. The details of that lease agreement, including the location, have not yet been made public.

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