Monday, January 22, 2007

New Building or Renovation Project?

When Carol Stream residents cast votes for the library referendum on April 17, many will undoubtedly recognize the need for more space to house books, videos, and other resources, but they may also have one larger question on their minds—does it make more sense to build the proposed new building pictured here or would it be cheaper to simply renovate or expand the existing building? It is an important question that has been put to the architects and members of the planning committee, and it turns out there are several crucial conditions that must be considered:

Flood Plain: Any Carol Stream resident who was here in 1987 will remember the extensive flooding that occurred when Klein Creek overflowed its banks and turned Armstrong Park and the parking lot and streets around the Library into a huge temporary lake. The property on the north side of the building is the land that many have argued would be a good place to build an addition to the Library, but the elevation is several feet lower than the current building. It is literally at the same level as the nearby creek, and would be subject to frequent flooding. Special engineering would be required to prepare this section of the property for building, and the process would be extremely expensive.

Adding On: Critics have argued that if the land behind the Library is unsuitable for an addition, it would still be cheaper to add a second story to the current structure than to build a new building. There is one fundamental flaw with that plan, however—the pilings that were driven into the ground to create the foundation for the existing structure were not designed to support a second story and are not capable of bearing the additional weight that such an addition would create.

Parking Considerations: The number of spaces in the existing parking lot meets the needs and the legal requirements for the size of the existing building, but the lot is not large enough to serve a larger building. There is not enough land on the current site to create a parking lot that would accommodate the growing number of patrons and still meet legal requirements.

Remodeling Costs: Remember that the process of remodeling existing buildings is often more expensive than new construction, particularly when renovations involve extensive wiring and data cabling considerations. One of the most pressing needs is for additional Internet research and computer work stations, but they require new wiring to deliver both power and data. It is an expensive process and one that would create noisy conditions and other inconveniences in the Library for many months.

On top of all of this is one inescapable fact—even if residents were prepared to overcome all of the issues and obstacles that would accompany a project to expand the current building, they would still have to pass a referendum to authorize such costly renovation projects. Given these issues, the inevitable conclusion is that the most efficient and economical way to provide necessary and modern library services is to build a new building that will serve Carol Stream residents for generations to come.


psolecki said...

What about the argument some have made to renovate existing warehouse space? How does that compare in terms of cost? Does anyone know?

CSPL Friend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CSPL Friend said...

Thanks for reading the CSPL Friends blog and for submitting your comment. I presume that you are referring to the ideas raised in a recent "Letter to the Editor" written by Michael Wade to The Examiner. If that is the case, I would direct you to the response by Robert Douglas to Mr. Wade's suggestions that appears on page 8 of the January 24 issue of the Examiner. Mr. Douglas is the current president of the Carol Stream Public Library Board, and he does a nice job of explaining why industrial sites like warehouses on the eastern fringes of the village would not be suitable sites for a library.

The bottom line is that it is not merely a matter of cost per square foot. In order to meet the needs of patrons as well as legal requirements, there are many factors that must be considered for any building that serves the public. Mr. Douglas points out in his reply that the Board carefully considered all options before making the recommendations for a new building