Exterior renovations beginning at Wauconda Area Library

  • A patron heads into the Wauconda Area Library using cracked, stained steps earlier this year. That staircase is set to be replaced as part of a nearly $1.6 million project this fall.

      A patron heads into the Wauconda Area Library using cracked, stained steps earlier this year. That staircase is set to be replaced as part of a nearly $1.6 million project this fall. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, January 2018

 
 
Updated 9/5/2018 1:58 PM

A nearly $1.6 million exterior renovation project at the Wauconda Area Library has begun.

Officials promise the work -- including the construction of new stairs and ramps leading to the front doors -- shouldn't affect operations inside. The project will be done in phases this fall, so the library will maintain normal hours of operation throughout the project, library Director Tom Kern said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We might have to close for one or two days, but this is not likely," Kern said.

The new stairs will be the most significant element of the effort.

Patrons have had to climb a flight of concrete stairs or walk up a long ramp to reach the library's glass doors. Many of those stairs are stained, and several have long cracks.

The new staircase won't be as steep as the current set and will feature pavement stones, not concrete. They also will contain an extra landing and be heated to prevent snow and ice buildup.

A new walkway and a new ramp will use paving stones, too. They will provide more direct access for people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs.

Safety fences now block access to the stairs, ahead of the planned demolition. Customers can use the existing ramp to enter and exit the library.

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Once the stairs and new ramp are done, the existing ramp will be replaced. The new version will be wider and use paving stones instead of concrete.

Because of the stairway and ramp work, the regular entrance will be inaccessible for a week or two in October, Kern said.

"During that brief time, the public will enter through a door at the bottom of the interior stairway near the entrance to Kid City," Kern said, referring to the lower-level area for young patrons.

Aside from the stairs and ramps, the driveway in front of the building will be widened to improve traffic flow and the ability to pick up or drop off patrons. New LED lighting fixtures will be installed to brighten the area outside the entrance.

Also, a new outdoor stage for summer concerts and children's programs will be built, cracks in the parking lot will be repaired, and plants will be added to the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A path and gardens that were considered for the project have been eliminated because cost estimates came in higher than desired, Kern said. A proposed drive-up window was scratched, too.

The work will be overseen by Featherstone Inc., the Downers Grove firm that also managed the library's 2014 interior renovation.

The project is being funded with a loan, savings and a $125,000 state grant.

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