Officials at the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library, 3541 Park Ave., will celebrate the new facility’s opening with a public grand opening celebration on July 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. , but two days earlier Phase 2 of the project to create a new public library campus kicked off in earnest.
On July 29, a backhoe rolled up to the old library at 3609 Grand Blvd. and began carving chunks out of the 35-year-old brick building, which is being razed to make way for greenspace and a 23-space parking lot.
Dan Eallonardo, the library board’s construction consultant, said that preliminary demolition – recycling interior items like light bulbs and refrigerants – began a couple of weeks ago. That will be followed by three to four weeks of building demolition.
“The county requires a certain percentage of materials to be recycled, like bricks and concrete,” Eallonardo said. “So, they have to separate things like metals, masonry and stone as the building is being demolished.”
Once the demo work is complete, workers will have to disconnect all utilities and then install new storm water detention, drainage and sewers before backfilling the site and pouring the curbs and gutters for the parking lot, paving it, landscaping the grounds and enclosing it with a decorative wrought-iron fence.
“Completion should be in late October or early November,” Eallonardo said. “When that happens, we’ll reopen Lincoln Avenue [which has been closed to traffic since April 2020] and the parking lot will be usable.”
Vehicles will be able to access the parking lot from either Lincoln Avenue or Grand Boulevard, and a good swath of the old library site will be given over to greenspace, with trees and other plantings to soften the look of the parking lot.
One of the final touches said Eallonardo will be the planting of a pollinator garden, a joint effort between the library and Brookfield Zoo, as part of the zoo’s ongoing Communities & Nature initiative.
In addition to plants that attract pollinators, the garden will feature interpretive signage courtesy of Brookfield Zoo. The original signage from the 1914 Carnegie library that once stood on the property will also be incorporated into the design, placed near bike racks along the south side of Lincoln Avenue.
And for those who are worried about the fate of Wooly Bully, the fiberglass bison that has served as something of a library mascot since it arrived as part of another zoo-library partnership in 2010, fear not.
According to library Director Kimberly Coughran, the life-size bison figure is temporarily back at Brookfield Zoo getting a bit of a spruce-up. Once the landscaping in and around the new parking lot is complete, Wooly Bully will be back – with its own interpretive signage – roaming the rear area of the park.