On the right track

Opinion: Editorials

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The Landmark View

The Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees determined many years ago that the present building was wholly inadequate to provide the kinds of contemporary programming and service that library patrons expect.

They've been saving money, acquiring property, engaging in years of planning and have now launched a capital campaign to solicit funds from major donors. 

As we have been saying for the past couple of years: Make no mistake, Brookfield is going to have a new library. It needs a new library.

Given that inevitability, the recent decision by the library board to scrap their plans for an addition to the existing building in favor of building a new facility is one that all residents should see as a return to the right direction.

After residents defeated a referendum to issue $10 million in bonds at the polls in 2016, the library board did some soul-searching and decided that maybe they could get something almost as good as new by gutting and adding on to the existing library.

But after the village put the kibosh on closing off Lincoln Avenue to achieve that goal, it quickly became evident that library officials weren't comfortable with their remaining options.

They also began to realize that their plans for gut and add onto the existing building would trigger code requirements that essentially had them building a new facility, jammed into that terrible isosceles triangle of a site while a rectangular parcel of land across the street — perfect for a place like a library, and bought for that expressed purpose — would end up a parking lot.

On further review, the board discovered that if they scaled back their plans for a new facility a bit, and maybe built a new building that would allow for future growth, they could do it for not much more money than renovating and expanding a building they don't want.

It's still early in the planning process, and anyone interested in seeing how things are shaking out can attend a special meeting of the library board on Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m., which will deal solely with how a new facility might fit onto the lot across the street. 

There may yet be more twists and turns before the library board sorts out a final plan. But the one thing we can say is that the library board certainly isn't settling for something they and the community would regret later.

That's what happened in the 1980s, when the board decided to go cheap and build a building that was not only too small but lacked expansion options. The village's original public library served the community for more than 60 years.

A new one needs to serve the community as well for as long.

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Joe Bellows  

Posted: August 15th, 2018 7:02 PM

Didnt the community vote this down last cycle?

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