Mundelein creating unique library that will lend tools
Mundelein resident Van Miller's aha moment came when the need for a lawnmower arose while visiting his daughter in Portland, Oregon.
His son-in-law took him to one of the three local tool-lending libraries in town, showed a water bill and an ID, and they left with what they needed.
"I was so overwhelmed when I saw this. I thought, 'Why doesn't everybody have it?'" Miller said.
It's taken a while, but soon Mundelein will have its own outlet where homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, woodworkers, gardeners or others can borrow the right tool or equipment for a job at no charge.
Substantial progress has been made, but there still are details to work out.
"It's falling in place," said Miller, a retired physical education teacher.
After returning from his Oregon trip a year and a half ago, Miller pitched the idea to supportive village officials. But given the pandemic and other considerations, such as needing to create a nonprofit organization and finding a place to set up shop, Miller's idea has been a work in progress.
The corner has been turned. An ad hoc village committee has been meeting; space in a former village public works building downtown is being made available; paperwork regarding nonprofit status filed and awaiting approval; and a website to include various features is being designed.
"Coming very soon, hopefully," said Jonathan Rosales, a local Realtor.
He's now a member of the ad hoc tool library commission, established by the village in January.
"I was looking for a volunteer opportunity," Rosales added. "I came across a man with an idea."
Several people already are interested in volunteering and/or donating tools, Rosales added.
Another committee member, Brett Loding Sr., didn't know Miller before the two connected.
"Once he explained it, I was like, 'I'm in. Let's go,'" said Loding, who has owned a home remodeling business for 40 years. Citing his own experience lending tools to friends, he said there is a need for such a service.
"If I don't have it, they have to buy it. If I'm using it, they have to wait," he said.
Miller initially proposed the village run the program. However, risk managers advised the village limit its role to landlord due to the need for safety training, development of formal guidelines, supervision and other considerations.
Instead, the village is providing set up assistance and support to establish a not-for-profit to create rules and procedures, operate the tool library, and enter into a lease for the village-owned building at 428 N. Chicago Ave.
Those and other items will be discussed when the commission meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 29, at village hall, 300 Plaza Circle.
The group eventually will be independent, but "we're not quite there yet," said Peter Vadopalas, assistant village administrator and nonvoting member of the tool library commission.
"They're always looking for volunteers (and) financial support," he added. "There's going to be a lot of opportunity for the community to get involved."
Miller and others also have a longer-range vision that could include monthly do-it-yourself clinics, for example. The commission agrees that all donated tools and equipment will be accepted. A process to accept and evaluate the items and determine which to make available to loan and which to sell to raise funds is pending.
"We're close," Loding said. "I have a wall of tools I want to get over there."