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Master Plan Overlooks Safety, Accessibilty of Library

Library officials are looking forward meeting with the Village board in December to discuss use of space.

As the village moves forward with finalizing it's Master Plan for adoption, members of the public have come forward with objections. Library officials have raised one of the biggest concerns regarding a proposed parking deck for the corner of Green Bay Road and Central Avenue.

The following is a letter sent by Library Executive Director Ellen Clark to Village President Christohper Canning in October regarding the issue.

Since then, officials on both sides have arranged a Dec. 3 meeting to discuss amending the master plan.

"The Library has begun discussions with the Village on the use of space surrounding our building and parking lot and we look forward to continued collaboration as the process moves forward. I believe this collaboration provides an opportunity to think creatively while ensuring our patrons and staff continue to have optimal access the Library." Cinda Axley, president of the library's board of trustees, told Patch.

Dear President Canning,

I have serious reservations about the Village Center Master Plan presented at Community Workshop #3 and available on the Village website. It raises concerns about the safety and accessibility of the Wilmette Public Library for its patrons and staff. We have shared these concerns previously in other forums, but they need to be repeated in light of the Lakota Group Plan. The Library cannot support the proposed plans without further discussions with Village staff and elected officials to address these issues.

More than 1100 Library patrons and staff enter the Library on an average day. We are open over 70 hours per week all year. The parking options proposed in the Preferred Concept and the Alternate Concept include several major deficiencies that would create severe hardship for many Library patrons and staff.

1. The parking lot immediately north of the Library is owned by the Library and is situated to best meet the needs of our patrons. The placement of a parking deck on the NE corner of the block would not provide sufficient and safe access to the Library for our many patrons who may be with young children or carrying arms full of books.

2. Removal of parking on the north side of the building in the Alternate Concept would create a significant hardship for Library patrons who need to use Handicapped spaces or who have mobility issues.

3. Our current capacity of 89 spaces (51 in the Library lot and 38 leased from the Village) is inadequate when we have special programs or host multiple programs at one time. The number of spaces in the proposed parking deck allotted to the Library does not meet our optimal capacity of 130 spaces. 

4. Parking that is not adjacent to the building creates safety concerns for patrons and for our staff, many of whom leave the building at 9:00 p.m. or later every day except Saturday.

5. The proposed plans do not provide for placement of the drive-by drop boxes that are heavily used to return Library books and materials (they must be emptied several times each day). This creates significant additional traffic through our parking lot that would need to be addressed.

6. Library deliveries and waste disposal rely on use of the existing alley, but the proposed plans do not address the need to provide for these as a regular part of Library operations.

7. Finally, the location of the parking deck would increase pressure on the Library to open an entrance at the northeastern end of the building—something that would require extensive renovation and expense.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns. Please feel free to contact me for further information.

Sincerely,

Ellen B. Clark

Director, Wilmette Public Library

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