Plans for new library to go before Plan Commission Feb. 22
The City of Geneva's Plan Commission continued the Library's application for a new building at 210 S. Sixth St. to their meeting Thursday, Feb. 22, 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 76 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 DO WE NEED 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. The Board voted to go to referendum, and the community voted in favor of the building bond in April 2017.
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.
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 lead to the design that has been submitted to the City of Geneva and its agencies to review.
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 - 76 - 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.
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.
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. The Park District will also engage in a public process to seek input.
WHEN WILL THE NEW LIBRARY OPEN? The goal is a prospective opening date in mid-year 2019.