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Tiskilwa residents learn about new library addition

TISKILWA — The history of the Tiskilwa Public Library will be restored as the current building is slated to be renovated, and an addition will be constructed onto the 105-year-old structure.

Architect Wayne Nowlan of ATSE Consultants of Peoria told about 20 people gathered at an open house Tuesday night the 3,800-square-foot addition will be attached to the current 1,800-square-foot library.

The addition will hopefully be enclosed by November of this year, Nowlan said, since bids from contractors for the nearly $1 million project won’t be opened until May 30.

Nowlan said plans for the existing library to become a community meeting place will also include the removal of the current drop ceiling to reveal the original tin ceiling with ornamental period lighting. Also, the current non-operational clock and the bell tower on the library building will be removed during the renovation process.

Nowlan added there would be an interior ramp from the new addition to the existing library with an exterior ramp located at the building’s north side for handicap accessibility. There would also be two handicapped parking spots in front of the new addition that would be the main entrance into both buildings.

Library board members recently received word they would be getting a grant of about $500,000 from the Illinois State Library, with the remaining funds coming from about $265,000 in savings the board has accumulated over the years, and a $200,000 loan from a local bank to be repaid over 20 years. The final loan amount will depend on the best bid received from a contractor.

Rich Foss, library board president, said board members are really excited about the addition because the process first began in 2001 to either build a new structure or renovate the existing building.

“We knew it would cost less to build new, but we didn’t want to abandon this historic building constructed in 1908,” added Nancy Johnston, the library board’s vice president.

The board purchased two lots to the east of the current library and removed two buildings on them to prepare for a new building. A referendum to issue $1.8 million in bonds for a new library was rejected in 2010 by the voters.

Board members were discouraged until the summer of 2011 when Foss discovered the state was offering new construction grants for historic libraries that were more than 100 years old.

One of the stipulations of the grant application was that the library building couldn’t have undergone any major modifications to even apply for the construction grant. Another requirement was the library had to own the property where the building was situated, which meant in Tiskilwa the village had to transfer ownership of that land to the library board in order to apply for the grant.

Even though the library board members knew in 2012 they would likely get the grant, they wanted to reduce costs for the project in order to have enough money for the local share of the project.

Tiskilwa Library Board members went to Toulon to talk to board members there, since a new library was built in that village for less than $1 million. As a result of this discussion, board members decided to hire another architect because the firm hired for the failed referendum had indicated they couldn’t reduce the costs for the project to less than $1 million.

Foss said Tiskilwa Public Library’s application was one of 15 libraries in Illinois to be accepted. There were 60 libraries who applied for the construction grants.

“It has been a long journey, but I am very proud of the board members sticking to it,” said Foss. He indicated former library board member Nancy Huber had also worked long and hard on this project.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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