Lombard library trustees asks park district to make a deal on building plan

Lombard library officials on Wednesday called on the park district to provide concessions that would allow them to take plans for a new $23.8 million Helen M. Plum Memorial Library adjacent to Lilacia Park to the village plan commission for review.

In a lengthy statement, library officials said they are asking the park district to allow them to relocate a driveway and receive a construction easement to move the long-stalled project forward.

"We have heard very clearly from many Lombard residents that, for the benefit of the community, we build a new library that remains at the current location," the statement reads. "Keeping the library adjacent to Lilacia Park benefits the park, the library, the Lombard downtown area, honors Col. (William) Plum's original vision of his donation to Lombard, and is the most financially responsible option."

Park district Director Paul Friedrichs said he wanted to review the library's statement before responding.

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

To construct the two-story facility as originally designed, however, the library needed the district's permission to build more than one story on land that once was part of Lilacia Park. The park district had veto power because it had given the library land for previous expansions but retained air rights above the property.

Both sides tried to negotiate for more than a year without success.

Facing public pressure to get something done, library trustees last January decided to pursue plans calling for a 50,000-square-foot structure with two linked pavilions that doesn't encroach on the park district's air rights.

The east pavilion would feature two stories on land the library entirely owns, but just one on land where the park district has air rights. A plaza deck would be rebuilt.

The west pavilion would be two stories and include a drive-up window.

Library officials hoped to have their application reviewed by the plan commission, but village officials said the project won't appear on an agenda until the library and park district agree on the driveway relocation and other matters.

The library argues the park district already agreed to the driveway as part of a 2007 intergovernmental agreement. The easement would allow construction equipment and materials "to extend only into the air rights owned by the park above the library."

"The library board has honored the existing agreement between both parties, including not infringing on park property, by designing a building that meets all restrictions defined in the agreement," the board's statement reads. "The park board is being asked to do the same, and help Lombard move forward with the new library building they have voted to fund."

Park officials have concerns about the two-pavilion proposal.

Last month, they voted to discontinue all talks with the library about a building at the current site unless a mediator was involved. Park commissioners want the library to either reconsider their 2017 offer or put the building "somewhere else by way of land swap on park district property."

Park officials say that November 2017 offer was "very good" and "a win-win for everybody" because it would have given the library air rights and land.

But in their statement, library trustees said the park district made 16 requests in its offer that included realigning the boundaries of parcels where the library is located, shifting the new building to the south. The park district would take ownership of library land to the north.

While the park district would waive some air rights, it wanted new ones. The library also would have needed a setback variance from the village because the building would have been closer to Maple Street and Park Avenue.

The library wanted an assurance from the park district that the building could be moved north if the setback variance was rejected, but the park district balked.

Since the two-pavilion plan already was an option, library trustees said they didn't want to risk spending more money and time on new plans with no backup.

"Our hope is that the park district board reconsiders their decision and provides approval of the driveway location and construction easement so we can submit plans to the Lombard Plan Commission," the statement reads.

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