News

FAQs - New Albany Park Library

August 27, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions regarding construction of
the

New Albany Park Library

There has been a lot of information disseminated about the new Albany Park Library and much of that information has been false.  In an effort to clear up any misconceptions about the process and the upcoming construction, we've assembled a series of frequently asked questions. 

Can't
the Chicago Public Library rent a storefront to house books during the
construction?

At first glance, this would seem
reasonable, but closer examination would indicate this isn't a feasible option. 
        
Any
public building is required to have accommodations for disabled patrons.  If CPL rented a vacant storefront, they would
have to invest money (and time) to make the entrance and public restroom
facilities handicapped accessible.
        
CPL
would have to invest funds to install a security system in the rental property
and wire it for CPL computer systems.
        
The
insurance on the rental property would be significant.
        
CPL
does not have the budget available to finance retrofitting a rental building
and paying rent for two years during the construction period

You're
using TIF funds to building the new Albany Park Library?  Why can't you use TIF funds to rent a
temporary facility?

The use of tax increment
financing expenditures is governed by state statue.  Rental of property is not a TIF eligible
expense; construction of a new facility is. 
In the event someone would want to amend the
state statute to allow rental of a temporary facility, by the time the General
Assembly would prepare, debate, and pass the legislation, the new library would
be built and open.  For those unfamiliar
with TIFs and the TIF legislation, a handy link laying out eligible uses is
here: http://www.illinois-tif.com/about_TIF.asp

Why
can't the Chicago Public Library just keep the existing building, and build an
addition, so that the branch could stay open during construction?

The existing building is
extremely outdated and is not handicapped accessible.

The
new library will have an open floor plan designed to allow the staff to see the
whole library from a central location. Adding a new addition to the existing
building would make it more difficult
for the staff to monitor the whole library.

  • The
    new library will be designed for maximum natural light, with floors and
    ceilings designed to absorb noise. We would lose those advantages by
    keeping the existing building.
  • The
    new building will have a very high efficiency heating and cooling system,
    while the heating system in the existing building is both inefficient and
    unreliable. Also, the existing windows are drafty.
  • The
    existing building has a tremendous quantity of asbestos.  Building around the existing building,
    while demolishing parts of the existing structure, would pose tremendous
    health hazards to library patrons, many of whom are young children.
  • The
    existing building has neither the electrical system nor the communications
    infrastructure to accommodate additional computers.

In addition, trying to keep the
library open in the existing location while demolishing the building next door
and building an addition would be very
disruptive to library patrons. There would have to be heavy equipment, dust,
noise and jackhammers operating all day, with construction barricades up at all
times, none of which are particularly conducive to a library atmosphere.


Why
wasn't the public involved in this process? 
Why weren't we informed?

Discussions about a new library
for Albany Park have been going on for at
least
the past 14 years.  In 1998,
the Friends of the Albany Park Library presented Alderman Laurino with a
proposal for a new Albany Park Library. 
At the time, budget considerations and other factors did not put Albany
Park at the top of the list for a new facility. 
The only feasible way to build a new library in Albany Park was to use
funds from the Lawrence-Kedzie TIF for the construction.  The Lawrence-Kedzie TIF has been used for
several other large scale public benefit projects, including a large addition
at Peterson School and construction of the Albany Park Multicultural
Academy/Edison Gifted School.

Despite some people's  insistence that this planning was done
"in the dark", the decision to use TIF funds to build a new Albany
Park Branch was done in open meetings and covered in the media last fall.  Both Channel 7 and Channel 2 did stories
about it on October 5, 2011 (ex: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/05/emanuel-seeks-tif-funds-for-library-school-parking-lot/) and the local papers covered it as well.   In addition, for the past two years, Alderman
Laurino informed the public that a new Albany Park Library was on the horizon
in newsletters mailed to 39th Ward residents.


Why
did you chose this site?  There are other
places you could build the library.

As previously stated, the only
way to construct a new library was to use funds from the Lawrence-Kedzie
TIF.  The city's budget does not have any
money earmarked for construction of new libraries, now or in the near
future.  The location for the new library
had to within the TIF boundaries.  Since
CPL owns the property where the current and future library is located, only one
additional property needed to be acquired for the site plan.   Choosing any other location would require
purchasing multiple properties and would have escalated the costs beyond what
was available in the TIF.