Lombard library seeking support for revised building plan
Lombard park commissioners could be asked as soon as next month to formally consider a revised plan for a new library next to Lilacia Park.
Voters in November approved a property tax rate increase after library officials promised to tear down and replace the existing Helen M. Plum Memorial Library building at 110 W. Maple St.
Construction of the new facility, however, has been delayed because library officials have been unable to get permission from the Lombard Park District to build more than one story on land that used to be part of Lilacia Park.
So the library has a revised design for the building that doesn't require it to obtain park land or air rights.
On Monday, library board President Jason Brandt, library Director Barb Kruser and an architect presented the updated plan to park board President Dave Kundrot and park Director Paul Friedrichs.
Brandt says different issues were discussed during the meeting, including stormwater retention, parking, facade, and the orientation of the proposed building.
But because the library board has yet to finalize certain details, Brandt said those decisions must be made before the revised plan can be submitted to the park board.
"The next step is for the library board here to make our decision on what we want to present moving forward," Brandt said during Tuesday night's library board meeting. "We want to present something for their full board to consider."
If the library can get a proposal together in time, park commissioners could review it during their Sept. 19 meeting.
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.
A decade ago, the park district gave the library a driveway with the understanding that nothing would be built beyond a certain height at that location. The park district says it has air rights to the north, east and west of the library.
In a letter sent Friday to the Daily Herald, the park board president explained his view of the situation.
"The park district has given land to the library for the original building, land for the addition in 1977 and the driveway land in 2007," Kundrot wrote in the letter. "To maintain the integrity of the park, we do not desire to give up any more property."
Kundrot said the 1977 agreement was put in place to ensure that "the view, aesthetics, integrity and beauty of Lilacia Park" remain for the future. He said previous park and library boards agreed to include air rights in the deal.
"I believe the intent and spirit of that agreement was to look out for the best interests of the future library and park," Kundrot wrote, "and I will honor that agreement."
Library officials said they tried negotiating with the park district months before the fall election. The library also did a study that found the new building 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, he said.