New chapter ahead for Frankfort Public Library
By Susan DeMar Lafferty email@example.com July 25, 2014 3:24PM
A rendering of the planned expansion to the Frankfort Public Library. | Supplied.
Updated: August 28, 2014 6:41AM
The Frankfort Public Library will branch out with a new addition to its building at U.S. 30 and Pfeiffer Road.
In separate meetings this past week, the village board approved a variance for the project, allowing it to be built closer to U.S. 30, and the library trustees hired George Allen Construction, of Mokena, as its general contractor with a base bid of $2.2 million.
“This is something that has been coming for a long time. We needed additional space,” said library board president Keith Ogle. The library district has saved up for this 9,300-square-foot expansion and will not require a tax increase.
The addition will be all “people space,” said library director Pierre Gregoire, with a large 180-person dividable meeting room, public computer lab, learning lab and three additional study rooms. “It’s where libraries are going. We are somewhat moving away from book space to people space.”
The library’s interior will be reconfigured. The computers will be taken out of the center of the library and the existing meeting room will be used for children’s story time and crafts, he said.
The parking also will be expanded to the south with 100 more parking spaces.
George Allen Construction did the last expansion in 1998, he said. This latest addition was designed by Olivieri Brothers of Frankfort, and faces northwest with lots of windows for natural lighting.
“It will be simple and functional,” Ogle said.
Over the past several years, library officials have looked at several options to provide more space. Board members nixed plans for a new building, realizing that in tough economic times, voters likely would not approve a referendum request for a tax rate increase.
The library district also purchased the lot east of the library, but with trees and a wetland, much of it is not suitable for building, officials said.
Programs have been held off site, in park facilities, and an outdoor summer program just ended at Briedert Green.
Gregoire said the library waited until a 1998 bond was paid off so it could use existing tax revenues to pay for the addition.
The village approved a variance, allowing the new structure to be 25 feet closer to U.S. 30 than typically is allowed. The building will still be 25 feet from the road, Gregoire said.
Officials hope to break ground this summer and have the building under roof before winter. The library will remain open during construction, except for a few days when the front door will be reconfigured, Gregoire said.
“It may be noisy, but that’s no reason to close,” he said.