No grant to expand, state tells Crystal Lake library
CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Public Library won't get state funds to help pay for a proposed $28.6 million expansion project.
Library officials had applied for some of the $50 million offered through the state's Public Library Construction Act Grant Program, but didn't make the cut.
The Crystal Lake Public Library's request wound up near the bottom of the state's to-do list.
Of 47 libraries statewide that applied, 16 projects were approved, said Pat McGuckin, a spokesman for the Illinois State Library. The program was funded as part of the state's 2009 capital plan.
The Crystal Lake Public Library proposal was ranked 45th of the 47 projects in terms of funding priority. Priority was based on age, size in relation to population served, when the last substantial renovations were completed, and critical safety needs, McGuckin said.
Library officials had hoped the state grant would cover about $7.7 million of the $28.6 million expansion.
The Crystal Lake City Council will likely let voters decide the fate of the project with a referendum, Mayor Aaron Shepley said.
Without state dollars on the table, it may be more difficult to convince voters to back a property tax increase to pay for the expansion.
Even so, library officials want to move ahead with the project, Library Director Kathryn Martens wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald.
“We continue to pursue all potential sources of funding," she said. "The Crystal Lake Library Foundation is on board to assist with private fundraising efforts. The Library Board’s Finance Committee is investigating a fundraising consultant. Our architect is searching for other grant opportunities that match our project goals.”
The expansion would add more than 40,000 square feet of building space to double the size of the library. Designs call for demolishing the house at 17 McHenry Ave. and the oldest part of the existing library building to make way for additions and a two-story parking garage with 200 spaces.
Library administrators have said the existing 40,000-square-foot building at 126 Paddock St. doesn’t have enough space for materials, computers, meeting rooms and parking. Facility studies commissioned by the library have found it needs about twice the square footage it has now.
"There is a cost to doing nothing. The building we have is inefficient to operate," library board member Donald Peters said. "Going forward [with the expansion] is the most responsible use of taxpayer dollars."
Peters said it would have been "foolish" not to pursue a state grant along with other funding options. Those other options will now get more attention.
"We need to do something else," he said. "Crystal Lake deserves a new library."
While it may take time to get funding in place, library officials plan to move quickly. In the library's most recent newsletter, Martens wrote "a new library can be a reality in 2015."
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