We appreciate that School District 47 and the Crystal Lake Public Library are working together to seek a more affordable solution to address the library’s space needs.
For years, the public library has discussed expanding its current location at 126 Paddock St. near downtown Crystal Lake. Library administrators have said the existing 40,000-square-foot building doesn’t have enough space for books and other materials, computers, meeting rooms and parking.
Earlier this year, the Library Board proposed a $28.6 million expansion project to double the size of the library. Designs called 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.
Paying for the project has been the biggest hurdle. The library applied for a state grant that would have covered about a quarter of the cost but did not receive it.
The only way such an expansion will get done is if city taxpayers pay for it.
But guess what? Taxpayers not only aren’t in the mood to have their property taxes increased to pay for the proposed expansion, many also simply can’t afford it.
On Wednesday night, the District 47 school board discussed the possibility of closing a school and offering it to the library.
The Crystal Lake elementary and middle school district has seen significant declines in enrollment in recent years, and projects more declines in the future. Closing a school might be a necessity to contain costs.
If closing a school is inevitable anyway, it makes sense to find another potential use for it.
At this point, the school district and library are only in the discussion stages. We urge them to continue exploring the possibilities.
Note to readers: This editorial was edited from its original publication to correct language in the fourth to last paragraph to more correctly say that Disrtrict 47 is considering "offering" a school to the Crystal Lake Public Library rather than "donating." The discussions are merely preliminary and no other details have been worked out.