AURORA – Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White has notified the Aurora Public Library it has been awarded a Public Library Construction Act grant of $10.8 million in reimbursements for construction costs.
The entire $10.8 million will be applied to the $28 million cost of a new downtown public library. Construction is set to begin this spring. Secretary White will formally present a check to the library at a ceremony in March.
“The Aurora Public Library Board of Directors and I are extremely appreciative to Secretary of State White and the Illinois General Assembly, including our local lawmakers State Senator Linda Holmes and State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia, for approving the program and releasing the funds,” said Eva Luckinbill, executive director of the Aurora Public Library. “This grant will lower the bond debt for the construction of the new library, thereby lowering the amount Aurora city property taxpayers will contribute toward the new library and other improvements to the library system.”
Luckinbill praised Bonnie Sebby, special projects librarian, for her meticulous and professional work in writing the grant and managing the application process. City of Aurora Finance Director Brian Caputo was instrumental in assisting the library with various fiscal compliance requirements for the grant.
Luckinbill said Aurora aldermen, who approved the sale of bonds for the new library in April, 2012, also deserve hearty thanks for their part in making sure the Aurora Public Library will be able to fund a state-of-the art library that is planned to open next year.
Jeffry Butler, president of the Aurora Public Library Board of Directors, said he had been cautiously optimistic about the possibility of the grant award since the library made the application last April. “I can honestly say that the new Main Library and receiving the grant is the highlight of my tenure on the board,” said Butler. “I am thrilled with the support of Mayor Tom Weisner, the city council, and library staff who have worked diligently toward the new library project. I am really looking forward to breaking ground and seeing the building start to take shape.”
The new, 92,000-square-foot Main Library will be built on the corner of River and Benton streets on a parcel of land that was purchased by the library in 2009. The firm of Cordogan Clark & Associates was chosen as the architectural firm for the project in 2010. Joining that firm on the project are R.C. Wegman Construction Company as the construction management firm, Schoppe Design Associates as the landscape architect and KDI Design Interiors as the interior design firm.
The current Main Library opened in 1904 and was built with a $50,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The building, located on Stolp Island, was expanded in 1969.
Once the new building is completed, it is the intent of the library board to sell the current library building. The City of Aurora has the first right of refusal to purchase the property.
Public Library Construction Act Grants provide state matching funds to support design and new construction, remodeling, renovation of maintenance of public libraries in Illinois. The funding of the state’s share is made in payments for project costs upon submittal of documentation by the library. The state’s total appropriation for Construction Act Grants for 2013 was $50 million.