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DeKalb Public Library board sets groundbreaking in expansion project for July 26

DeKALB – A little more than a week is all that stands between DeKalb Public Library leaders and the groundbreaking for the $24 million building expansion.

Starting the project on time hinged on the approval the library received from the DeKalb City Council on Monday for the expansion, which will add a 46,000-square-foot addition, as well as additional parking for the 80-year-old, 19,000-square-foot building at 309 Oak St.

“Now we are on the green light to go to start construction,” said Graham Harwood, who works for a consulting firm representing the library, to library board members Wednesday, when they approved $3.2 million in construction contracts.

DeKalb library officials have been discussing an expansion since 2007. Until the state awarded the library an $11.6 million Public Library Construction Act grant, board President Clark Neher said he had some doubts about where those years of discussions would go.

After Wednesday's board meeting, those doubts had dissipated.

“I feel terrific about that fact that it's actually happening,” Neher said. “I think now it's at a stage where it will happen for sure.”

To pay for the remainder of the project, the city of DeKalb borrowed $6.5 million and provided $2 million in tax increment financing funds. The library is borrowing $2.8 million, which board members expect to repay through local fundraising efforts. The library also chipped in $1 million from its reserves.

In total, the board has budgeted $25.3 million for the project, which includes $1.45 million to acquire the land for the site as well as the state grant.

Residents will start to notice some action action at the site before the groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. July 26. Crews will close Third Street for half a block north of Oak Street starting July 24.

“People will be able to see the footprint of the new building,” Coover said. “It's going to get people excited to see it's actually starting.”

Construction will start in early August and will continue for the next 18 months. After the addition is complete, operations will shift entirely into the new building for six months, while the original building is renovated.

The project should be complete by Fall 2016.

If you go:

• What: DeKalb Public Library expansion groundbreaking

• When: 10 a.m. July 26

• Where: DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak Street, DeKalb

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