The Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees, unconvinced about plans to build an addition to the existing library, has changed direction and will again explore building a new facility on land it owns across the street, at 3541 Park Ave.

On July 25, trustees discussed four options for a new building between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet at a cost of between $9.5 million and $11.4 million. The plans also call for the existing library to be demolished to make room for a parking lot.

However, none of the options would involve closing Lincoln Avenue, which has been a sticking point for village government and would result in additional costs that library officials don’t want to take on.

Architects and library trustees will delve more into plans and cost estimates at a special meeting scheduled for Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 3609 Grand Blvd. 

Library Director Kimberly Coughran described the special meeting as a “placement exercise” where architects will try to determine whether preferred scenarios are feasible at the Park Avenue location. 

“This would be a more modest building,” said library board President Linda Kampschroeder of the new plan. “But it’s giving us a nice, clean footprint that we can work with in the future.”

Earlier in July, library trustees hit pause on a plan to build an addition to the existing library, which was constructed in 1986 on a pie-shaped parcel of land. An addition would have cost around $9 million and would have entailed gutting the existing building to make it usable for contemporary programming.

“There was just this kind of disappointed reaction to the expansion,” Kampschroeder said. “It was hard to find something that would work. It was so costly, and we’ll still have a [building that’s a] triangle.

According to Coughran, the scale of the proposed addition would have triggered a requirement that the existing building be brought up to the most recent code adopted by the village.

“It could have made a renovation even more costly than a new building,” Coughran said.

The proposed new facility would be smaller than the one the library board pitched to the community prior to a 2016 referendum to issue $10 million in construction bonds. That building was to be 32,000 square feet, and Lincoln Avenue was to have been closed off to create an open plaza in front of the new building.

Three of the options presented on July 25 are for a two-story building. Two of those call for 10,000 square feet on each floor, with one also proposing a 5,000-square-foot basement. The cost for the plan without a basement is about $9.8 million; with a basement the cost rises to $11.4 million.

The third two-story option calls for a 7,000-square-foot basement with two above-ground floors of 7,000 square feet apiece. The estimated cost for that option is about $9.7 million.

The fourth option calls for two 10,000-square-foot levels — one above ground and one at basement level. The one-story building above ground would be built to accommodate another floor in the future.

Option 4 is also the least expensive, at $9.5 million. Trustees appear to be favoring Options 3 and 4. 

“I think it’s a nice step forward,” said Trustee Adam Burghgraef. “No matter what we determine the budget is, the scaled-back scheme is easier to manage. It’s nice to know, square footage-wise, you can do something.”

In terms of financing such a facility, library officials are still planning on using a combination of cash reserves, money from a fledgling capital campaign and a bank loan.

The library has saved about $5.2 million in a special building reserve. While the capital campaign is just getting started, Kampschroeder said reaction to outreach to prospective donors “has been better than we had hoped” and that the library hopes to obtain between $1.5 and $2 million in gifts from donors.

The loan would be long-term debt, something officials are more comfortable using on a new building than on a renovation, said Kampschroeder.

“Trustees are doing a fantastic job exploring all possibilities,” Coughran said, “and making sure they’re spending dollars wisely.”

3 replies on “Brookfield Library board: Let’s build new”