Lombard library still months away from approval for new building

Helen M. Plum Memorial Library patrons eager to see a new facility built in downtown Lombard will have to be satisfied with drawings for now.

Officials have released architectural renderings of what the proposed building could look like, but the library board president says a formal application for the project won't be submitted to the village for at least another two months.

“I don't want to give a date unless I'm highly confident we're going to hit that date,” Jason Brandt said. “I think the earliest we would submit something is in two months.”

Voters in November 2016 supported a property tax increase after library officials promised to tear down the existing building at 110 W. Maple St. and construct a new one.

But the project stalled when the library sought Lombard Park District's permission to build more than one story on land that once was part of Lilacia Park. The park district had given the library land for previous expansions but retained the air rights above that property.

Facing public pressure to get something done more than a year after residents approved the tax increase, library officials announced in February that they were moving ahead with a plan that doesn't encroach on the park's air rights.

The proposal calls for constructing a facility with two linked pavilions. It would cost more than the original $22.3 million target price, although exactly how much more hasn't been determined.

“We have spent a lot of time, energy and effort trying to work on a design that doesn't encroach on the park or the air rights at all,” library spokeswoman Sue Wilsey said.

This week, the library announced on its site that it had met with the village several times over the past few weeks to talk about the plans.

Village staff members, meanwhile, have raised concerns about parking. Since the new library is going to be larger than the existing building, it must add more parking spaces.

Wilsey said the library has a long-standing agreement with the village where it could get back spaces in a parking lot on the south side of Maple, next to the Lombard Historical Society.

But the lot is being used by the historical society and commuters. So officials must determine if the library can get the parking spots when the new building opens.

If it can't, the library will need a parking variance, Brandt said.

Before the plan is formally submitted, the library is expected to host at least one public meeting so residents can get a preview of the design and provide feedback.

Under the current proposal, the east pavilion would feature two floors on land the library entirely owns, but just one floor on land where the park district has air rights. An existing plaza deck would be rebuilt.

Meanwhile, the library's west pavilion would be two floors and include a space for teens and a large meeting room. An enclosed walkway would connect it to the other pavilion.

If the village approves the project, the west pavilion would be built first. Once it's complete, the staff and materials would be relocated there until the existing library is demolished and rebuilt.

Brandt said it's not clear when construction would start.

Lombard library officials say they are planning to replace the existing library with a new facility that will have two linked pavilions. Courtesy of Helen M. Plum Memorial Library
Helen M. Plum Memorial Library officials say they are at least two months away from submitting plans to the village to replace the existing building at 110 W. Maple St. Daily Herald file photo
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