Aspen Drive Library expansion plans move ahead in Vernon Hills

  • An architect's vision of the soon-to-be-expanded Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills.

    An architect's vision of the soon-to-be-expanded Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills. Courtesy of Product Architecture + Design

  • David Archer, director of the Cook Memorial Public Library District, checks a rendering of the proposed $6.75 million Aspen Drive Library expansion.

      David Archer, director of the Cook Memorial Public Library District, checks a rendering of the proposed $6.75 million Aspen Drive Library expansion. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 

A $6.75 million plan to nearly double the amount of space at the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills recently received informal approval from the village board and is under staff review pending a public hearing.

About 250,000 patrons each year use the 20,000-square-foot facility, and the library often fills with students from nearby Hawthorn District 73 when school lets out for the day.

"On July 10 of 2010 we knew the building was too small then and it has met and exceeded our expectations for the southern part of the district," said David Archer, director of the Cook Memorial Public Library District, which also operates Cook Park Library in Libertyville.

Because of space challenges, library officials want to expand by 15,000 square feet, half at ground level and the other half as an unfinished basement for future use.

As planned, the new space would allow for a much larger dedicated children's wing, larger quiet area for adults, space for teens and six additional study rooms.

The three-acre site at 701 Aspen Drive, south of Route 60, was donated to the library by the village. A 50-space parking lot addition was added as a result of continuing use and another 21 spaces are called for in the expansion.

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"They didn't need to be sold but we felt it good to introduce them to the project," Archer said of his comments at the July 17 village board meeting where the measure was up for informal discussion.

"You need the expansion," Trustee Thom Koch said at the time. "We're very happy to see that. That means the facility is being used and used a lot."

Village officials also agreed to waive permit and other fees totaling about $48,000.

Library officials have been in touch with village staff regarding a proposed addition for some time, as it is just north of the Vernon Hills Park District's Sullivan Center. District 73 wants to build a kindergarten addition onto that building and will be seeking voter approval in November to borrow the money to do that and renovate and expand its six other schools.

"They (village staff) wanted to make sure all the projects were in sync with each other," Archer said. "We'll have to go through full review like anyone else," he added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That would require a public hearing to be scheduled before the village's planning and zoning commission. The library's architect and construction manager are working on detailed drawings for review, Archer added.

"The schedule at this point is to put out bids in November with opening up and awarding everything before the holidays," he said. Groundbreaking is targeted for March 1 followed by eight to nine months of construction.

Mayor Roger Byrne, who attended the board meeting remotely, supports the measure but did have one request.

"At some point can we change the name from the Aspen Drive Library to the Vernon Hills Library?" he asked Archer. "We did a lot for the library. I'd like to see our name on the building."

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