Endorsement: Yes to upgrade Villa Park library
In 2008 when the economy was in free fall, the Villa Park Library board asked voters for $23 million to building a new library. You can guess what happened.
Chalking that up to bad timing, library officials have returned to voters nine years later with a proposal not for a new library but for a fairly modest addition for less than half the price. It's estimated that without any expansion, the library must undergo more than $5 million in repairs and replacements over the next five years to its ailing infrastructure.
"There comes a time when it's no longer a want ... it's a need," said Pat Hubbard, president of the library board.
The library was built in 1969 and remodeled in 1997. While the shell of the building and its slab are in good shape, all of the mechanical systems original to the building are starting to fail. Electrical wiring is not to code. The elevator cannot accommodate a wheelchair.
In order to make the stacks compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, 20 percent of the collection would need to be removed.
Library officials initially looked at a 12,000-square-foot expansion but scaled that back to 9,300 square feet. The library is asking for $10.6 million to be repaid with bonds over 20 years. That amounts to about $89 more in property tax in the first year for the owner of a $200,000 house.
This scaled-back expansion makes sense. It would give the library more room, greater flexibility, more parking and greater accessibility to people with physical handicaps. Vote yes.