New GTH library in planning phases

Adam Larck
The current Germantown Hills Library where it sits at 101 Warrior Way. The proposed new library would either use land the library already owns near Little Oaks Daycare Center or would take over the former Jubilee Grocery Store.

While progress is not being made in leaps and bounds, progress is still being made for the new Germantown Hills library.

Illinois Prairie District Public Library director Grant Fredericksen  said that currently the architects are working on a schematic for the grant application to the state library.

“The grant is due April 16 to the state,” he said. “Then we wait. It will probably be the end of the fall before we hear back. We are not the only applicant by any stretch of the imagination.”

Fredericksen said that while there is about $50 million in grant money available, $10 million of that immediately goes to Chicago. After that, it’s broken up into various priorities.

The highest priority is replacing a library that’s burned down. Then it is building a new library that has experienced population growth, which is the category Germantown Hills falls into.

Currently, Fredericksen is not sure how much the district will receive in grant money.

“It’s going to depend upon what the architects determine to be the ballpark cost,” he said. “Right now, I’m not willing to be pinned down to an amount. What I can say is our grant index is 47 (percent). That means that the state will fund up to 47 percent of the total project.”

The other percentage of funding will have to be covered by the district.

“Well, we have a little money in our budget,” Fredericksen said. “The rest of it ... The board has been talking bond referendum, they’ve been talking fundraising. They really haven’t decided yet. There’s some different ways we can jump on that.”

After the grant has been submitted, the next step in the timeline is to wait for the grants to be awarded around August before the architects start drawing up designs for the library. After that, the board will start figuring out ways to fund the library constructions, with an estimated opening window of November 2014.

Besides the total cost of the project being an unknown, another unknown is where the library will go.

The library cannot go at its current location of 101 Warrior Way because the location is too small. However, Fredericksen said that the district owns the 5.5 acres near the Little Oaks Daycare Center. Another possible location is the former Jubilee Grocery Store.

“We’re applying for that grant as if we’re building on that open lot,” he said. “But, we can change it. The state library is being very flexible on this grant series. They want to give money away.”

The library board will have to make up their mind about the location soon to change the grant and figure out what to plan for the building.

As far as choosing a building goes, Fredericksen said there are pros and cons to each.

“If the board decides to use the grocery store, they’re going to save a little money because they don’t have to put up walls,” he said. “But, it will be a grocery store that is converted, and there are some limitations there.”

While using Jubilee would be more cost effective, it would also take an anchor store away from the shopping center, and the village would lose the sales and property tax another store would pay.

“You are taking a lot of stuff out of your revenue tax,” Fredericksen said.

If the board does decide to take over the old grocery store, this will not be the first remodel the district has had to do. The Spring Bay library is an old tavern, while the Roanoke library is an old funeral home.

Both of those remodels also had something that was not expected that cost more money while remodeling.

Other things the store would need include: more light throughout the store, testing the floors to make sure they can withstand at least 150 pounds per square foot and electrical plugs in the floor for laptop use.

“Obviously, a new building is best because it’s built for a library, but a remodel is possible,” he said.

This would not be the first library in the area remodeled from a store if this is the direction the store goes. The Princeville library is also a former grocery store.

Another problem the board will eventually have to solve is the operating costs after the library is built. Currently, the library is only open 11 hours a week in the village. With a new library, the board would want more hours.

“There have been cases in Illinois where the voters have improved a referendum to approve a building and then came back and said, “No, no, no. No more tax increase,’” Fredericksen said. “So, you end up with a really nice new building and the same hours.

“We really don’t want to get into that situation if we can avoid it. It’s going to depend a lot on what the building costs are and what the board decides, and it’s kind of early for that.”