Northbrook paves the way for library expansion
The Northbrook Public Library shown on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. On Oct. 9, the Village Board approved a parking variance that will expand parking at the facility. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2012 1:16PM
NORTHBROOK — The Northbrook Public Library is preparing to expand its perimeters now that the Village Board has agreed to its allow more parking.
The library requested a 19.7 percent variance to reduce the required number of parking spaces to 155 from 193, a total of 38 less spaces.
However, the board requested that the parking situation be reviewed after six months, then every year after that to see if changes should be made.
“I would like the Library Board to know that if everything is working out, fine, but if the library would like to increase its parking space, it should come back to us,” said Village Trustee James A. Karagianis.
Village trustees noted that some residents expressed concern about the timing of the expansion during a challenging economy.
“It’s not in our purview whether another board does something or not. Our only purview was the parking,” said Village Trustee Todd Heller.
The Village Board also asked the library to allow no more than 300 people at a time at the facility, and to coordinate events with the village, School District 28 and the Northbrook Park District.
That is because sufficient parking seems to have been the only real obstacle in the way of the library’s expansion plans.
The cooperation between the library and the entities involved made that history.
The library has had to turn away people from its most popular events for years because of the lack of space, said Eric Robbins, the library’s assistant director.
“The space we’re adding to the building is relatively small. It is about 1,800 feet, but were expanding the number of seats in our auditorium to a maximum capacity of 225 from 188, as well expanding our Pollack and Civic Rooms,” Robbins said.
“If someone looks straight down from the sky, he wouldn’t be able to see any change in the building. The expansion is all under the existing overhang.”
The village board conducted a preliminary review of the library’s application Feb. 28, during which the board members indicated tentative support for the expansion, but asked for a thorough review of the proposal.
During a public hearing July 17 by the plan commission, some members expressed concern that if Greenbriar School, 1225 Greenbriar Lane, and the Park District, which shares Greenbriar’s auditorium, hosted events at the same time a large library event was being held, there would not be sufficient parking.
So one of the conditions for the variance’s approval was that the library coordinate the scheduling of its programs so as not to take place when the village, school district or the park district are having events, said Michaela Kohlstedt, a village planner.
“The park district does not anticipate any major parking issues. We have a good relationship with the library and School District 28, so we would hope to plan ahead if the need ever arises,” said Gail Baritz, the park district’s communication specialist.
Superintendent of School District 28 Larry Hewitt said he has no problem working with the library’s scheduling.
“It’s very natural for us to work with other government entities for the benefit of the community,” he said.