Preliminary plans for a scaled-down new library were revealed Aug. 27 at a meeting of the Brookfield Public Library’s board of trustees. The board reached consensus on a plan that would call for a 33,610-square-foot building.
Last year, the initial plans for a new library called for a 39,000-square-foot building, but the library board decided that would be too costly and too large.
“The lot that we have across the street is not that large,” said library board President Jennifer Perry. “I think scaling back was the right thing to do for the neighborhood.”
The current plans were designed to produce a building that could be built for about $10 million. They call for two-story building with a full basement section that would house the children’s and teen sections. The new library would be built across Lincoln Avenue on land the library purchased from the Brookfield United Methodist Church in November 2012.
Architect Michael Mackey said the new plans will be submitted for final planned development approval to the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission and the Brookfield Village Board in the spring of 2015.
However, Perry said the earliest the library board would try to pass a referendum to raise the money to help pay for the construction of the new library would be 2016.
“It’s a big project and we have to pay for it,” Perry said.
Balancing cost and size has been foremost in the mind of library board members, because they know it will be a challenge to pass a referendum. The library currently has approximately $3.2 million in cash reserves set aside for the project.
“The community will be behind us if it’s the right amount,” said longtime library board member Carol Kissane.
According to the preliminary plan revealed Wednesday night, the lower level of the new library would be 11,320 square feet, the first floor would be 10,945 square feet and the second floor would be 7,820 square feet. Of that number, about 3,000 square feet of space would remain unfinished, but available for future use.
Former library board member Jennifer Oberhauser, who was member of the library’s facility advisory committee, said that it didn’t make sense of leave part of a new library unfinished.
Perry agreed that she would prefer to finish out the proposed shell area right away if it is not too expensive.
“It seems to me that it makes a lot more sense to finish it right off the bat than to have them come back,” said Perry. “It would be a very small project and it would be very expensive, and I don’t know that would be a good use of tax dollars.”
The precise plans and cost estimates of the proposed new library have to be determined.
Library officials have long maintained that Brookfield needs a new and bigger library.
The present building is only 13,500 square feet, but officials say the Brookfield Public Library circulates more books and other items than other larger libraries.
According to a library handout, in 2013 the Brookfield Public Library circulated 306,418 items, which was more than many other area libraries with bigger buildings. For example the 33,542-square-foot LaGrange Public Library circulated 306,208 items.
And, according to the library handout, 495 children were turned away from programs last year due to space constraints.
“We don’t have the space for all the things that need to be done,” Perry said.