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CL library expansion mulled

CRYSTAL LAKE – City Council members told library trustees they should consider looking at a different location for expansion.

In a joint workshop meeting Tuesday, City Council members said they were not “tied” to the library’s current location and believe trustees can get more for their dollars if trustees look into building new instead of razing the current facility or renovating the building to fit the library’s needs.

“I could support you moving if you could get more for your money,” Councilman Ralph Dawson said. “I don’t think the library where it is has to tie you.”

Earlier this year, the Library Board proposed a $28.6 million expansion project at the library’s location at 126 Paddock St. The dollar amount was made public when trustees applied for a state grant that would have covered about $7.7 million of the expansion.

The Northwest Herald reported in July the grant was rejected, but library officials said they still have not received notification they won’t get a share of the state’s Public Library Construction Act Grant Program.

Library Board President John Engebretson said the expansion plans are very much alive, although they are now looking at a scaled back version of the original and wanted some direction from the City Council.

“It is certainly not a dead issue at this point in time,” Engebretson said. “We still feel it’s wide open.”

For now, the library is in what officials call a schematic design phase where they hope to lower costs by addressing needs versus wants.

However, library trustees couldn’t provide a new dollar amount of a scaled back plan, but they said it likely will be significantly less than the $28.6 million.

The City Council likely will let voters decide the fate of the project with a referendum, Mayor Aaron Shepley said, but added that it may be more difficult to persuade voters to back a property tax increase without proving the library is being cost effective.

“The chances of the public saying yes are much, much better when they have a sense that we’re doing something in an efficient way,” Shepley said.

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