Lombard library to show revised building plan to park district
A revised plan for a new library in Lombard could resolve a monthslong dispute between the library and the park district.
Voters in November approved a property tax rate increase after library officials promised to tear down and replace the outdated Helen M. Plum Memorial Library building at 110 W. Maple St.
Efforts to construct a new library, however, have been stalled because the Lombard Park District has refused to give permission for the building to be more than one story on land that used to be part of neighboring Lilacia Park.
But that could change when library board President Jason Brandt and other library representatives meet Monday with park district officials to review a revised design for the building that doesn't require the library to obtain park land or air rights.
"We're left at this point looking at options that don't violate any air rights," Brandt said Thursday. "If we can't come to any agreement with the park board on any exceptions, then we have to look at what we can do within our air rights."
The reason previous library plans needed air rights from the park district dates to the 1970s, when the library acquired part of Lilacia Park so it could expand its first floor.
As part of that deal, the roof of the library addition was made into a plaza that overlooks the park. But while the library owns the plaza, the park district owns the air space above it.
The park district gave the library land on several occasions with the understanding that nothing would be built beyond a certain height at those locations. The park district says it has air rights to the north, east and west of the library.
Park district officials have argued that a taller building on former park land could take away from the beauty of Lilacia Park, which is the site of Lombard's annual Lilac Time.
Paul Friedrichs, the park district's executive director, said it would be "great" if library officials are able to build without violating the park district's air rights.
"If they had a plan to build a library within their property, they could put the shovel in the ground tomorrow as far as the park district is concerned," Friedrichs said Thursday. "All we've told them is don't encroach into the park."
Brandt said the library tried to reach an agreement with the park district months before the fall election. It also did a study that found the proposed library wouldn't shade plants in the park.
Still, a deal wasn't finalized before the election.
Brandt said library officials moved ahead with the ballot question because of the poor condition and space needs of the existing library. They anticipated the library and park boards could work together after the election "to ensure the building plans addressed all concerns," he said.
"The park district has stated that it would like to continue the partnership with the library and that it continues to be open to considering plans for a new library building at the current location," Brandt said. "The library board has accepted that offering in good faith, as has always been the case, and looks forward to a building plan that both parties can accept."