Why selling Lombard library building would be 'complicated'

With the Helen Plum Library planning to move later this year to a custom new building at 411 S. Main St. in Lombard, patrons are inevitably asking what will happen to the existing building.

The two-word reply from any library staffer is: "It's complicated."

During a library board meeting this week, Executive Director Claudia Krauspe explained how complicated it would be to sell the existing building at 110 W. Maple St. Krauspe stressed the library board was "not looking for a vote or a decision" right now.

Various hurdles would need to be overcome for the library to sell the property next to Lilacia Park. That's because of a series of intergovernmental agreements the library made with the Lombard Park District and the village of Lombard in 1977, 1980 and 2007.

The 110 W. Maple St. property is actually on three lots, with the west parking area comprising two separate lots and a single one for the building. The library property is bisected between the building and its parking areas with an exclusive north-south access easement that connects Maple Street to Lilacia Park to the north. This easement is granted in perpetuity to the park district.

Also binding on any future purchaser of the building is the park district's ownership of the air rights over 110 W. Maple St.

"We would have a say in what would happen there," Paul Friedrichs, executive director of the Lombard Park District, said about the northwest corner of Maple Street and Park Avenue.

The Lombard Park District also has a "first rights" option to purchase the west lots before any sale offering by the library. And if another owner obtains the west lots, driveway easements are to automatically revert to the park district so they can have access to Lilacia Park's Coach House.

The village has also zoned the library site as "conservation" or "recreation," so any interested commercial or residential buyers would need to get a zoning change.

Zoning also affects library parking along the east side of Park Avenue near Elmhurst Memorial Health Center. Since Lombard has zoned it only for a government or nonprofit owner, the parking access also would need to be renegotiated.

In addition, a commuter parking lot at 25 W. Maple St. has been granted by the village for library use. So its future use also is up in the air.

Krauspe said a real estate attorney would be necessary to get financial appraisals of the library property and obtain advice on all the restrictions that come with it.

"We're in a holding pattern right now," said Friedrichs about the park district's view on the current library site. "We just have to wait for the library board to make some decisions."

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