In 1927, Colonel Plum provided Lilacia Park for the establishment of a Park District in Lombard. He also provided his home to establish a free Public Library. From that time, the Library resided in Colonel Plum’s home. During the 1960’s, the Library District grew out of their building and the Park District agreed to provide them with additional land to support the construction of a new 12,000 square foot, two-story building which Helen Plum Library currently resides. During the late 1970’s, for the second time, the Library District requested additional land at Lilacia Park to provide for a 22,000 square foot addition to their facility, and once again the Park District agreed. During these 1978 discussions, the Library Board and Park District Board, noting the value and historical significance of Lilacia Park to our community, agreed that for the additional property, the air rights above the expansion would be protected from any future development. Both parties have known the ramifications of that mutual understanding and agreement for almost 40 years. Years later, after their 2004 unsuccessful referendum, the Library District felt one of the reasons for their defeat was that they didn’t hold title to a driveway (owned by the Park District) which cut the Library District’s property into two halves. In the spirit of cooperation and for the third time, the Park District deeded the Lilacia Park driveway to the Helen Plum Library in 2008.
On February 16, 2016, over one year ago, the Library District was notified that the Park District was concerned about the possibility of any new library expansion into Lilacia Park and were told that any new building should not encroach into Lilacia Park. During the following nine months the Library District presented to the residents elevations and floor plans for a new library that encroached into Lilacia Park and was not within their property lines.
Once the Library District moved forward by publicly releasing their development plans and holding informational meetings on a possible referendum, the Park District remained silent on the issue to avoid accusations of tampering with their referendum. In an effort to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety, on April 25, 2016, the Park District informed the Library District that we deemed any contract, intergovernmental agreement or joint position statement with the Library District prior to referendum as potential violations of the Illinois Election Code and as such could not agree to any at that time. We also reminded the Library District that the Park District has historically stayed away from any communications that could be deemed as a political endorsement for or against a referendum. There were no discussions between any staff or Board members regarding the Library District’s expansion, waiving of air rights, or providing them more of Lilacia Park from the time they initially presented their plan to the Park District Commissioners on March 29, 2016 until after the November 8, 2016 election.
The protection of Lilacia Park from further development has been a priority of the elected officials who represent the Lombard Park District and in that spirit, we have made every effort to work cooperatively with the Library District. The Park District began presenting options to the Library District on November 28, 2016. Three weeks later, on December 22, 2016, a combined committee of representatives of the Park and Library District’s met to discuss options. At that meeting, the Park District reaffirmed to the Library District that they could build any building on their site as provided by Village zoning, but they simply needed to respect the property lines that have been established including the 38 year air rights agreement above the 1978 expansion.
The Park District has provided options that could potentially save taxpayers’ dollars in moving, book storage and temporary site costs; and assist with their parking and storm water issues. During this current, and on-going process, we have continued to remind them the Park District would do our best to support any library they chose to construct within their property lines.
The Park District and Library District have been partners at Lilacia Park for 90 years and no matter where a new library is constructed, the Park District plans to continue this valued and important relationship.
-Lombard Park District, Board of Park Commissioners