To the Editor:
In light of Mike Bruno’s June 8 blog post, I would like to highlight some of the issues related to the Cetron building.
The library deals with space issues on a daily basis at our current site. We have tried to communicate this as best we can to the general public. I feel it is important to remind everyone that our district serves a significantly larger population than just the city of Geneva.
To put it in perspective, the center of the Library District is actually near Delnor Hospital. While the population of Geneva is about 21,000, the Geneva Library District serves over 30,000 people. That means we have a significant number of taxpayers outside the city limits that we are responsible to.
Our current Library building will not meet the needs of the future Library District. We are trying very hard to keep the library in the downtown area. The downtown as described by the city of Geneva is from Eastside Drive to the east and Anderson Blvd. to the west. Cetron is certainly in the downtown area as defined by the city.
The library staff and board continually watch the trends of libraries to determine which services are going to be best utilized by our patrons. There is no question that the library is and will remain a vital part of any community, but the space usage will certainly shift. We are closely monitoring current trends and adjusting our services to best serve our patrons now and to help us plan for a new building for the future.
As the library began the process of purchasing the Cetron property, the question of the condition of the Cetron building itself has been of interest to the board. That is why the library contracted with an engineer in 2011 to have a preliminary analysis done on the building. The results of the report were presented to the board in closed session in June 2011, as the subject of the report is related to the pending property purchase.
The engineer evaluated the Cetron building to the fullest extent that he could. We do not have a completed contract with the owner for the land so cannot conduct a full structural or soil analysis until both parties have signed the contract.
In spite of what has been written, a one-floor option for a new library has never been the chosen floor configuration consideration by the board. A single floor would be ideal from the standpoint of avoiding stairs and elevators, but one of the reasons we would like to move to a new location is to obtain parking space that we lack right now. A one-floor option would considerably cut down on the number of parking spaces we could provide at this site as well as a garden area. The use of space in a library is very important. And the more levels the building has, the less functional it becomes as a library, based on past studies we have had done by qualified architects.
The size of the Cetron building is estimated to be approximately 34,000 square feet. The current library building is approximately 27,000 square feet. The library is considering a new building of at least 50,000 square feet to provide adequate shelf, study, meeting and work space for the community.
When our contract is signed by both parties, the board will seek clearance from the fire chief to take a tour of the Cetron building and have a structural engineer examine it more closely before any further action would be taken. Once we have purchased the site, we will be in a position to release all information from that report to the public.
We will also be obtaining information on the costs of utilizing the Cetron building in addition to new construction. We did not feel it prudent to spend taxpayer dollars at this time on studies when we were not even sure if we were going to be able to close on the property.
This is setting aside the fact that we did not have access to the site. There are environmental issues to be considered at this site, as well. We will be fully informed about all options before taking the next step.
It is the intention of the Library Board to explore all avenues and insure all precautions have been taken to protect the Library District. Our ability to gain access to the property will go a long ways toward answering many questions about the state of the building and the land.
Director, Geneva Public Library District