HIGHLAND PARK – The City of Highland Park is looking for community feedback on a proposal to expand the Highland Park Library at 494 Laurel Avenue into a Community Center with senior and youth services.
The proposed services in the Community Center include a technology training center, a youth program room with stroller parking outside the room, a middle-school youth area, a multi-purpose room for 200 to 300 people that can be subdivided for smaller groups, a café/vending area, and an ADA-compliant elevator.
According to the City of Highland Park, “The (existing) Senior Center and Youth Center structures present space constraints, non-functional spaces, inaccessibility, and escalating capital and maintenance costs for upkeep.”
The city is hosting six open houses beginning Wednesday, June 21, at 8:30 a.m., in the conference room at City Hall.
Assistant City Manager Rob Sabo said each open house will begin with the same brief presentation followed by an opportunity for attendees to provide feedback regarding services and programs as well as facility use now and in the future.
Sabo added that attendees will be able to peruse informational boards pertaining to existing facilities, as well as building and functional features that could be incorporated into a possible library expansion and possible relocation of Senior and Youth Services.
After the attendees have reviewed the materials, they will be encouraged to share their opinions.
“Attendees will receive a feedback card to fill out and turn in along with stickers that they can affix to the informational boards denoting the features which they would like to see for the library, senior services, and youth services should the project move forward,” said Sabo. City and library staff will be available at each session to answer any questions.
Sabo emphasized that the project is exploratory at this time.
“Williams Architects is evaluating the current operations of the library, Senior Division and Youth Services Division, and is assessing new building needs and shared space opportunities,” said Sabo. “As part of the needs assessment being done by Williams Architects, the upcoming community engagement meetings will offer an opportunity to obtain public input on the project.”
The city and library will explore next steps after the completion of Williams Architects’ needs assessment and preliminary design work.
The City of Highland Park purchased the two properties east of the library, at 444 and 466 Laurel Avenue, to make a facility and/or parking expansion more feasible. The City Council approved the residential real estate contract at the October 24, 2016, City Council meeting for a total of $1.55 million.
Sabo said there is no timetable or plan to demolish 444 Laurel or 466 Laurel, since Williams Architects is currently conducting the needs assessment. Following the needs assessment, preliminary plans and options will be prepared for the possible expansion of the library and possible inclusion of senior and youth services with expanded on-site parking to accommodate all uses.
“This information will be reviewed by the city and library, who will explore the next steps of the project based on the deliverables from Williams Architects,” said Sabo. “Currently, the timeline for the project anticipates planning, final design, and zoning work to begin in 2019 with possible construction to occur in 2020.”
The six community engagement meetings will be held at City Hall in the Pre-Session Conference Room, 1707 St. Johns Avenue. The same material will be covered at each of the meetings.
Here is the schedule:
- Wednesday, June 21, 8:30 a.m.
- Wednesday, June 28, 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 11, 3 p.m.
- Thursday, July 13, 8:30 a.m.
- Monday, July 17, 7 p.m.
- Thursday, August 3, 3 p.m.
In addition, a community engagement survey will be available July 1 through July 15 on the city’s website at www.cityhpil.com/communitycampus. The feedback will be presented to the City Council in August at a Committee of the Whole meeting.