Lombard library wants to talk to park district about building plan

Helen M. Plum Memorial Library officials are revisiting a 2-year-old offer from Lombard Park District in hopes of moving forward with a long-stalled plan for a new building.

Plum officials have spent three years trying to fulfill a promise to construct a roughly 50,000-square-foot facility that would replace the existing library at 110 W. Maple St.

Voters in November 2016 approved a property tax increase for the library, but the project has faced repeated delays.

The initial plan was to build on the library's current location, but officials struggled to create a proposal that could pass muster with the park district, which owns neighboring Lilacia Park.

Library officials spent much of this year seeking other sites, including one owned by the park district. The park district, however, has rejected two land swaps.

Now, in a statement released Tuesday, library board President Jason Brandt says the board “recognizes that it has been several years since the referendum passed with the intent to build a new library building and we need to move forward with that task.”

So they're reconsidering an offer the park district made in November 2017.

Under the offer, the district would provide land and air rights so the library could build its facility on the site next to Lilacia Park.

But the new library would have to be farther south from the park and its historic coach house.

“Our offer to you would have moved the new library away and created a buffer between the buildings,” park board President Sarah Richardt said in a recent letter to Brandt.

The district is concerned about having a two-story building overlooking the park's main courtyard. But Richardt said the November 2017 offer addresses that by having the west portion of the library be limited to one story.

Library board members rejected that offer in part because they said it would move the new building closer to Maple Street and Park Avenue and require a setback variance from the village.

Richardt said the setback issue falls under the village's jurisdiction, but the park district is willing to do what it can to help the library.

Brandt sent a letter to Richardt this week saying the library board would like to meet with the park district to further discuss the November 2017 offer.

“The library board is also willing to invest in a mediator to be part of the discussion to help come to a solution,” Brandt wrote.

In addition, Brandt revealed in his written statement that the library board also will be exploring the possibility of acquiring the former Mr. Z's Supermarket site. The building at 401 S. Main St. has stood vacant since the business abruptly closed in 2013.

“This property has its own set of restrictions and issues,” Brandt wrote, “but could provide a viable alternative location for a new library building.”

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