Brookfield Public Library officials got some good news recently when they were awarded a $125,000 Live and Learn Construction Grant through the Illinois State Library to help fund construction of a new facility at 3541 Park Ave. next year.

Two dozen libraries had applied for Live and Learn grants through the program, which had a pool of $670,000 to divvy up for remodeling and new construction projects. Riverside Public Library, which is in the midst of raising money to fund a major renovation of its lower level space, fell just short of receiving a grant.

Brookfield, however, received the maximum award the program provides for new construction projects. During a March webinar where grant applications were judged, Brookfield’s new library proposal received a perfect score of 10.

“Reviewer remarks focused on the demonstrated space constraints, the number of residents turned away from classes and events and the library’s referendum experience,” a press release from Brookfield Public Library Director Kimberly Coughran stated.

The Illinois State Library notified Brookfield officials about the award on April 18.

Riverside’s lower-level project received a score of 9.6, according to Riverside Library Director Janice Foley.

The $125,000 will help bolster a growing construction fund for the new approximately 21,000-square-foot library, whose total cost is estimated to run between $10.5 and $10.8 million.

The library board has saved $5.9 million in a special reserve fund and created a nonprofit foundation, which is pursuing private donations. The largest single donation received to date is $1 million from Linda Sokol Francis, a businesswoman and former village trustee for whom the new library will be named.

The foundation has collected almost $200,000 more in other private donations and has received a loan guarantee from First National Bank of Brookfield of up to $3.5 million.

In March, the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approving the library’s preliminary planned development application. On April 22, the village board got its first look at the application.

The plan drew a couple of cursory questions from Trustee Edward Cote regarding energy efficiency, the possibility of adding either a green roof or solar panels and the future location of an outdoor book dropbox.

Trustee Michelle Ryan praised the plan.

“I know this has been a long process, but it seems like you’re on a great path,” Ryan said. “This is going to be great.”

The village board vote on the preliminary plan at their May 13 meeting.

If the village board accepts the preliminary application, as expected, the library’s architect will begin work on the final planned development application, which will head back to the Planning and Zoning Commission, likely within three months according to architect Dan Pohrte.

“The additional information that will be included in this [final] presentation are further development of the site/storm water engineering, further development of the site and landscaping plan, including all proposed materials and proposed plantings, along with overall light levels, and major building material selections to include a material board along with images and elevation drawings to illustrate intent,” Pohrte said in an email.

A positive recommendation of the final plan there would send it back to the village board for a vote. Library officials hope construction on the new library can begin in spring 2020.

Riverside Library plans lower-level buildout

Despite falling short in their bid for a state construction grant, Riverside Public Library officials are planning to start the first phase of the lower-level renovation later this year, according to Library Director Janice Foley.

The library’s architect is preparing construction documents for an Early Learners room for children up to age 5, which will be located in the southwest corner of the lower level. Foley said the hope is for the architect to seek bids in May or June, with construction kicking off in August.

The Early Learners area will separate the youngest, and often boisterous, patrons in an area with a fine view of the Des Plaines River and shelving and furniture appropriate for that age group.

The Friends of the Riverside Public Library are raising funds to pay for those furnishings. Two walls will be built to separate it from the central atrium/Children’s Services area as well as a new public meeting room.

In all, the total cost for the lower-level renovation is pegged at about $1.3 million. The library is raising the money purely from private donations. To date, they’ve raised about $190,000.