ST. CHARLES – A $18.6 million plan to renovate and expand the St. Charles Public Library continues to move forward.
Aldermen on the St. Charles City Council’s planning and development committee reviewed the plans at their Aug. 12 meeting. The project includes a two-story, 2,840-square-foot addition at the building’s southeast corner and a one-story, 3,225-square-foot addition on the building’s north side along Main Street.
Work is set to start next spring, with construction expected to take 14 or 15 months. The original Carnegie Library building at the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue was built in 1908. The building was last expanded in 1988 with a two-story addition.
According to library officials, the original Carnegie building would be incorporated into the everyday life of the library through the addition of study rooms and a quiet reading and research area. An outdoor patio seating area would be added at the site of the current entrance on the southeast corner of the building overlooking the terraced garden.
Plans also call for the construction of a new entrance on the east facade of the library building to add access to all levels through a new elevator, increase the library’s visibility on Main Street and increase parking efficiency. A reconfigured and expanded parking lot also is part of the project along with a drive-up window on the south side of the building.
The plan incorporates St. Mark’s Lutheran Church’s site and parking together with the library’s to create a unified parking lot. In responding to concerns from St. Charles Plan Commission members about the project, the plan now includes five additional sidewalks.
“I appreciate you taking in consideration the Plan Commission concerns,” 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Anne Payleitner said in addressing the library’s architect.
The project is already 73% funded through the $13.6 million the library holds in its special reserve funds, which are set aside for upkeep and renovation projects as needed. In April, board trustees approved selling bonds to fund the remaining $5 million of the project.
While the project is underway, the library will lease space in the now-closed Haines Middle School. St. Charles Public Library Director Edith Craig has said the taxpayers will benefit in “multiple” ways.
“The cost of staying at the library while we are under construction is probably in the hundreds of thousands [of dollars],” Craig said. “It would extend our construction project by at least six months. And that’s assuming we don’t find any hidden asbestos or any surprises in a 100-year-old building. Also, by us using this building, we won’t have patrons going through major construction zones.”