Now real work begins as Villa Park Library plans for expansion

 
 
Updated 4/10/2017 2:29 PM
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  • This rendering shows what the new entrance to the Villa Park Library may look like now that residents have approved a tax increase to support a building addition and renovations to the existing structure.

    This rendering shows what the new entrance to the Villa Park Library may look like now that residents have approved a tax increase to support a building addition and renovations to the existing structure. Courtesy of Villa Park Library

Now comes the tough part.

A week ago, Villa Park Library officials were holding their collective breath waiting to see if voters would approve a property tax increase to clear the way for a $10.6 million plan to expand and renovate their facility at 305 S. Ardmore Ave.

Now, flush from a resounding Election Night victory -- more than 64 percent of voters supported the tax hike -- those same officials face the challenge of turning their plans into reality.

Director Sandra Hill said library officials are meeting this week with project architects and village officials to get the project rolling.

The timetable for the work is fairly aggressive, with the building addition scheduled for completion in June 2018 and renovations to the existing building set to be finished by March 2019.

"It will be very challenging," Hill said.

The library was built in 1969 and last renovated about 20 years ago.

Plans call for expanding the 24,500-square-foot building to 31,300 square feet and adding sprinklers, more parking, quiet reading rooms, group and private study areas, community meeting rooms and a larger section for teens.

Officials said the project will extend the library's life for another 50 years.

The 20-year bond issue approved by voters will provide roughly $6.9 million for building construction, $1 million for site construction and $750,000 for furniture, shelves and equipment.

The owner of a $200,000 home will now pay about $335 a year to the library -- a $90 annual increase from the previous $245.

Hill said the library will work for the next six months on the design for the addition. Once that phase of the project is complete next summer, it will turn its attention to renovations to the existing structure -- with an eye toward keeping the building open through as much of the work as possible.

In the event the building does have to close for any extended periods, Hill said she will ask libraries in Elmhurst, Lombard and Addison to help provide services.

Much of the renovation work will happen behind the scenes, Hill said, but the project also will focus on making the facility more welcoming as a community gathering place.

She admits keeping all that work on track while continuing to serve library patrons will be tricky.

"We need to be very methodical in how we do the renovations," she said.

Hill said the library will provide regular updates on its website as the project progresses and plans to hold several community forums to keep residents apprised of what's happening and to collect additional input.

"Getting and keeping the community involved in the planning process will be invaluable," she said.

The community's support for the referendum question indicates residents "believe in the library and believe in our services," she said.

Now it's crucial the library lives up to its promises. Hill says everyone involved is taking a deep breath and then preparing to move forward.

It would be unrealistic not to expect a few bumps on the road, but Hill says her staff is ready.

"If we have a hiccup," she said, "we'll just have to deal with it."

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