Local News

La Grange Park Public Library targets water damage repairs in master plan

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La Grange Park Public Library Executive Director Kate Buckson talks about the future of the library at a June 28 community meeting.[]

LA GRANGE PARK – The La Grange Park Public Library has unveiled its master plan, which is a consolidation of research about the facility trustees and staff have been working on over the past three years. It was presented to the public in a community meeting June 28.

The plan calls for structural renovations to the library that won’t begin until 2022, at an estimated cost of $4 million.

The master plan highlights necessary projects that will save the building’s structural integrity, while allowing the library to continue to provide the high level of service patrons are used to, Executive Director Kate Buckson said.

Some of the critical needs are replacing east and west walls that have experienced water damage because of improperly installed windows when the library was constructed in 1989. Other needs include deferred maintenance projects like replacing the HVAC system, carpet and lighting.

Buckson said library staff noticed water was getting in through windows a few years ago, and before jumping into construction to fix the problem, the library had a facility needs assessment done by an outside agency, which found the library needed more work.

“We absolutely would not be doing these renovations if they weren’t necessary. The structure of the building won’t stand for very long without these fixes,” she said. “Water will continue to get in, and that will cause more damage. The responsible thing to do is address it if the building’s integrity is going to be sustainable. We need working systems to be able to open the library.”

The library does not plan to go to referendum to fund the projects, but rather, it will save money over the next few years to cover the cost. Buckson said the library and its trustees have been very fiscally conservative, which has allowed the library to budget for such projects.

Board of Library Trustees member Laurie Whitman said in an email the board has been working diligently with staff to develop a plan that adequately addresses the building’s needs.

“Our community clearly values and uses the library, so we are doing our best to ensure that we maintain their investment,” she said. “We as a board will continue to support the efforts of our director and the staff to not only physically maintain and integrate space considerations for our patrons but also continue to hear what the community wants in the way of their library.”

The library also worked with an architect to look at its service level and how it can improve.

Buckson said library use, especially in the children’s area, has “exploded” in the last five years. While she’s happy more people are taking advantage of the library’s services and programs, increased usage leads to more wear and tear on the building, she said.

“We’ll spend about $1 million on carpeting, lighting and furniture and may add one or two small study rooms,” Buckson said. “We want to make sure that we’re being responsible about the building and that patrons are having a safe and enjoyable time here.”

She said the master plan isn’t finalized, and she is still open to public feedback. The library will hold several more community meetings to get input once the design has been drafted, Buckson said.

“It’s our responsibility to communicate updates to the public. We’re not doing anything now, but we want to be transparent about what we’re working on,” she said. “Once construction is imminent, we will invite public feedback. We just want to explain the process and answer questions as best we can.”