Plan Commission hearing set for Jan. 25
The City of Geneva's Plan Commission will review the Library's application for a new building at 210 S. Sixth St. at their meeting Thursday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m., at City Hall, 22 S. First St. The Planned Unit Development (PUD) application provides civil engineering plans, parking and traffic studies, elevations, and more.
The Library seeks approval for a 3-story public library with 77 off-street parking spaces. The Historic Preservation Commission considered the request on Dec. 19 and provided recommendations to the Plan Commission regarding the character of the development, yard setbacks, landscape features, and building scale.
WHY ARE WE BUILDING A NEW LIBRARY? The process began more than two years ago when the Library Board evaluated the condition and operating costs of the current building and determined how to best serve the District in the future. The Board met with members of the community and also conducted a needs assessment of the facility, concluding that it made the most fiscal sense to build a new library that offered the space and amenities the community needed. You can see the Needs Assessment highlights at http://geneva.libnet.info/images/pdfs/geneva/Press%20Room/Needs_Assessment_Highlights.pdf. The Board voted to go to referendum, and the community voted in favor of the building bond in April 2017. With 32.52% turnout and 7,705 ballots cast, the referendum passed by a vote of 3,868 Yes to 3,772 No. The results are available on the Kane County Clerk's website: http://electionresults.countyofkane.org/Referenda.aspx?Id=17.
HOW DID WE DETERMINE THE SIZE OF THE NEW LIBRARY? The needs analysis the Library conducted in 2015 recommended a 65,000-square-foot building for Geneva Public Library District, which has a service population of approximately 30,500. Currently the Library has the smallest building per patron than any peer library. The approximately 57,000-square-foot proposed building size will place GPLD just above the average, and the Library worked with members of the community and the Library Board to establish appropriate square footage. Our Planning for the Future documents are available at our Press Room: http://www.gpld.org/press-room.
Above: the dark gray shows building footprint at time of the referendum; the light gray shows the footprint after additional site planning to further reduce setbacks and reduce above-ground square footage.
WHEN DID THE DESIGN PROCESS FOR THE NEW BUILDING BEGIN? Building sketches circulated before the referendum were for scale only. At that time, the Library did not want engage architects to design a new building without first having permission from the community to move forward. After the referendum passed, the Library contracted StudioGC to begin design work. Our post-referendum press release explained the next steps: http://geneva.libnet.info/images/pdfs/geneva/GPLD%20referendum%20press%20release%20next%20steps.pdf.
WHEN DID THE COMMUNITY SEE BUILDING PLANS? Following the successful referendum, the Library scheduled a series of community forums to discuss specific design concepts for the new building, and the three forums were also videotaped to allow as many members of the community to participate as possible. That process led to the design that has been submitted to the City of Geneva and its agencies to review.
Following the community sessions, architects used residents' suggestions to further refine the plans with input from the Library Board.
WHY DOES THE LIBRARY NEED ZONING ADJUSTMENTS FOR THE NEW BUILDING? The Library's PUD proposal establishes a mini zoning district just for this building, and adjustments to the residential zoning code ordinance for the site for this new use is an allowable special use in this District. The adjustments occur mostly in response to community feedback received - both in general and from the community forums held regarding the design.
For example, the Library heard a lot of requests to minimize the view of the parking lot, so architects created a park-like setting with fewer parking stalls - 77 - and that requires a variance. The Library also got feedback asking architects to minimize the appearance of the height of the building, while still remaining at or below the height of the former Sixth Street School building. The building is partially buried 4 to 6 feet below grade at the corner of Sixth and Campbell, while the top story is set back from the perimeter, and that requires a variance.
You can find many of the building concepts at https://www.gpldnewbuilding.org/building-concepts. The plans are also on the city's Development Projects page: https://cityofgenevailus.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=38e7e69574cd4d9b886929cac92ec6f6.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE PLAYGROUND ON THE SITE? Library officials are working with Park District officials to develop plans for a new playground at the corner of Sixth and Franklin, which willl move the playground from Seventh and Franklin and locate it closer to the neighborhood. The Park District will additionally engage in a public process to seek input for their designs. Both districts are excited about this ongoing partnership.
WHEN WILL THE NEW LIBRARY BE OPEN? The goal is to meet with Plan Commission and City Council in 2018 and start construction later in the year, with a prospective opening date in mid-year 2019.