Library paves way to better lot
Wilmette Friday 10/26/12 Construction of the parking lot at the Wilmette Public Library. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
PAVING THE WAY
WHAT: Parking lot reconstruction
WHERE: Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave.
WHY: Repair and drainage improvement
For more information on the parking lot project, visit the library website at www.wilmette.lib.il.us. Clark can be reached at 847-256-6924, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:37AM
WILMETTE — The mounds of dirt making a muddy barricade to what was once the Wilmette Public Library’s parking lot looked daunting last week, after a day and night of rain.
Library Director Ellen Clark tried to be philosophical about it.
Planning for a brand new, ecologically friendly parking lot had included some buffer time for bad weather, Clark said Oct. 26: “The schedule goes to the end of November, but we’re hoping they make it before then. It depends on the weather, of course.”
Crews began the $275,000 project in mid-October, and library district officials initially hoped it would take only four weeks, she said earlier this month.
While the library’s 51-space parking lot is unusable, patrons can use the 38-space village parking lot immediately to north, which the library rents (with the exception of those reserved for D permits). Library employees who normally use it have been asked to park elsewhere until the main lot reopens, Clark said.
“So far, people have been wonderfully understanding,” she added. “Many of them know that the old lot was in pretty bad shape.”
In addition to replacing its crumbling asphalt surface, the project should help solve a major drainage problem.
The lot was probably built when the library was, perhaps in the 1950s, Clark said. Since that time, and with repeated resurfacing and grading, it has tilted increasingly toward the library itself, routing water toward the building.
“When there was a hard rain, there would be a lot of standing water next to us at the base of the building, which wasn’t good,” Clark said. “We had to deal with that and with minor flooding.”
Once the board agreed last winter to embark on a complete rebuilding – tearing up the existing pavement, putting down a new 20-inch deep gravel base and re-angling the lot for proper draining – they also chose to use semi-permeable paving bricks.
Using the pavers added an estimated $75,000 to the project, but that was still under the $300,000 the board originally planned to spend, Clark said. It also dovetails with the board’s commitment to employ environmentally sustainable practices whenever feasible, she added. They allow water runoff to seep into the ground at a slow and controllable pace, they have a longer lifespan than asphalt and are easier to care for and replace.
While the project continues, some library workers have taken an extremely positive attitude, she said.
Up in the youth services department, they have allowed kids who to get up in the windows to watch the work, and to ask questions about it,” she said.
Wilmette resident Al Flitcraft, who said he visits the library about twice a month, was sanguine about the project, saying he had been lucky on Friday; finding a parking space right in front of the building.
On the other hand, Nancy Rolison, of Wilmette, who was leaving the library with her son Jack, said she has had more difficulty parking her car.
“I’m hoping the work’s done quickly. I usually come once or twice a week … and I think (the project) would deter me from doing that if it lasts too long,” Rolison said.
While construction continues, donations to the Books Down Under second hand book store in the library basement have been suspended. The library has also implemented temporary services such as curbside drop-off and pickup, as well as extended home delivery options. Patrons can also return material at drop boxes at the Community Recreation Center, 3000 Glenview Road, at Plaza del Lago, and in the village lot north of the library.