The need to replace an obsolete heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system has enabled River Forest Public Library officials to provide additional space for programs and services.
Library officials presented their plan to build a 16-by-7-foot masonry enclosure on the north side of the building at 735 Lathrop Ave. to village officials at the virtual village council meeting on May 10, the first step in the planned development process. Deborah Hill, Chair of the Library Council, and Emily Compton-Dzak, Library Director, explained the plan to install the new HVAC unit in the proposed housing and then convert the 400-square-foot mechanical space in the building that will be occupied by the current HVAC unit. to the nursery in a space that can be used for programs, community gatherings and as a gathering space for children and their families.
Library officials have already received permission from officials from the River Forest Park District, which owns the property, to proceed with the project.
Trustee Katie Brennan’s concerns about the addition regarding the adjacent park grounds were allayed by Compton-Dzak, who said the ball court next to the library does not need to be relocated to allow for the addition.
“For a number of years, library staff have been working on an exciting project that could provide River Forest residents with more community space,” said library staff in a press release. “The Barbara Hall Meeting Room, the library’s only conference room, is typically in near constant use, and the library is anticipating high demand once the COVID-19 meeting restrictions are lifted.”
Compton-Dzak, who was appointed director in January, said library officials plan to launch bids in July and have September as the start date for the project, which she estimates will take 6 to 8 weeks. She explained that they are targeting the fall due to weather conditions, as the building will be without heating or air conditioning for part of the project.
“This makes sense,” said Cathy Adduci, village president, in support of the project.
After the village officials reached consensus on May 10, library officials will proceed to submit a planned development permit, which is necessary because the library is located in the public, recreational, institutional zoning area.
Lisa Scheiner, acting village manager, explained that while the mechanical equipment is considered an “accessory use,” the construction of the enclosure does require a planned development permit.
Compton-Dzak said staff members “have been hard at work lately, expanding service little by little” as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
She said that if the village’s Development Review Board approves the project, the next step will be the design phase, where library staff and stakeholders will work with an architect to envision how best to make the space available to the public. are exploited.
According to library officials, the park district commissioners approved the drafting of a memorandum of understanding between the two entities at their April 12 meeting, subject to the park officer review.
According to the plans, the 8-by-13-foot air handling unit is to be installed on a concrete pad and surrounded by the masonry enclosure that would be placed on a concrete base one foot wide, 42 inches deep. Officials expect that any noise from the air handling unit will be softened by the masonry housing.
The library opened its doors in 1905 in a small building on Park Avenue. The current building, designed by Prairie School architect William Eugene Drummond, was completed in 1929. In 1989, an addition was added to the building.