Officials: It will take $1.9M to get Arlington Heights Library makerspace up and running

  • The Arlington Heights Memorial Library plans to acquire an 8,000-square-foot building at 112 N. Belmont Ave. from the village to house a "makerspace" for hands-on learning. It could cost up to $2 million in the first two years to get it up and running, officials said.

    The Arlington Heights Memorial Library plans to acquire an 8,000-square-foot building at 112 N. Belmont Ave. from the village to house a "makerspace" for hands-on learning. It could cost up to $2 million in the first two years to get it up and running, officials said. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, March 2018

 
 
Updated 3/4/2019 11:21 PM

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library could spend about $1.9 million over the next two years to get its proposed "makerspace" up and running, officials revealed Monday.

That would include costs to make repairs, build out the interior space, hire up to three full-time and eight part-time employees, and buy equipment, though officials said the Friends of the Library and newly-established Arlington Heights Memorial Library Foundation would help pay for the latter.

 

Over the next five years, total costs are estimated at $4.5 million.

Executive Director Mike Driskell said a property tax increase isn't currently planned to fund costs to acquire, renovate, staff and program the 8,000-square-foot building at 112 N. Belmont Ave., but the library could dip into its more-than-$4 million reserve fund, and it would solicit grants, sponsorships and naming rights opportunities from local businesses.

The library has proposed acquiring the site from the village to open a hands-on learning space separate from the main library campus. It would house high-tech tools like 3-D printers, laser cutters, and computers for coding; fine arts and business areas; and a commercial kitchen for cooking classes. Plans call for the building to be open five days a week, closing Sunday and Monday.

Under a proposed deal that still requires final review and approval by the library and village boards, the village would transfer the property to the library over a 10-year period, as the percent ownership would gradually change with the anticipated investment by the library, according to a memo from Driskell to the library board.

A preliminary budget reviewed by library trustees during their committee of the whole meeting Monday night shows a $1 purchase price, but since the building previously received federal funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that could factor into the final equation.

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It would cost $155,000 for initial building repairs, including HVAC and electrical upgrades, but a total of $427,000 over the next five years, per a 2017 engineering study conducted by the village. Driskell said the library would plan to do a new building assessment.

After acquiring the property, the library could spend $282,000 on interior improvements to the main floor and basement, including carpeting replacement, painting and some room reconfiguration.

While existing library staff would be expected to get the facility up and running, Driskell said it's anticipated the library would scale up its staffing there, based on the comparative staffing levels of other libraries that house makerspaces. The library has proposed hiring a full-time assistant manager and two specialists to work there, and eight part-time employees: four digital services advisers, two maintenance assistants and two security officers. Estimated staffing costs are projected at $662,000 annually.

Currently, the library employs 82 full-time and 190 part-time employees and manages a $14.3 million annual budget.

Library officials plan public meetings at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, to review the proposal and answer questions. Library trustees would then vote on a contract Tuesday, March 19, and the village board would vote in April.

Under a preliminary construction timetable, the building could open a year later.

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