Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lincoln library now historic landmark

of the Journal Star
Posted Jun 09, 2009 @ 11:07 PM
Last update Jun 10, 2009 @ 09:40 AM


A 98-year-old South Peoria library branch built with money from famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie is officially a historic landmark.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the City Council endorsed a measure to add the Lincoln branch library to its list of historic landmarks.

“I don’t think anyone has any question whatsoever that one of the few remaining Carnegie libraries in the area is a historic landmark,” 2nd District City Councilwoman Barbara Van Auken said.

The vote came with little debate despite the Peoria Public Library Board’s wishes not to have the branch granted landmark status.

Concerns expressed by Library Board President Mike McKenzie indicated that a landmark designation could potentially slow a $4.5 million to $5.5 million construction of an addition to the library.

McKenzie said after the vote that he is hopeful that those who support the preservation of the library branch will continue to work with the Library Board, which wants to proceed with expansion. For instance, the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation has met regularly with the board to discuss the expansion project.

“We want (the expansion) to move forward with everyone as a participant,” McKenzie said. “I think we have a commitment from various groups to make themselves available and be responsive to the schedule that needs to be maintained. Hopefully that will happen. I have no reason to believe it won’t happen.”

City officials, including Planning & Growth Management Director Pat Landes, said there should be no unexpected delay in the expansion project.

Because the library is a landmark, any alterations to its exterior require a certificate of appropriateness, which must be granted by the Historic Preservation Commission. Changes to the building might be needed because plans are for the library to add a walkway connecting the old structure with the new expansion.

In addition, the Library Board needs to get a special use permit from the city’s zoning commission in order to proceed with the expansion because the facility is located in an area zoned for residential properties.

Landes said the city is planning to hold a rare joint historic preservation and zoning commission meeting in which the public will get a chance to weigh in on the changes. She said the meeting, at the earliest, would take place during the first week of August.

The streamlined approach of combining the two commissions for one meeting appealed to some council members who previously questioned if the landmark designation would slow the library as it proceeds with the project.

“I really feel comfortable now,” at-large City Councilman Eric Turner said. “My biggest concern (was) not to have the library forced to deal with undue delays or costs put on them.”

The library was built in 1910. Its property served as a farm of one of Peoria’s earliest settlers and as a public graveyard during the 1880s.

An excavation project currently is going on to determine if any burial sites or artifacts are located within the area of the expansion project. Thirteen distinct burial spots were found on the property Tuesday.

Read On

No comments: