CL Library Still Expanding Footprint, $1,925,959 Spent So Far

Proposed relocation of the library as seen in the spring 2015 Crystal Lake Library newsletter.

The General Election advisory referendum last fall lost and an effort for a re-do by the Crystal Lake Public Library at the much lower turnout April election was withdrawn before a vote by the City Council.

That, however, has not kept the Library Board from buying another property.

Just last week, on January 19th, the Library bought the property at 11 S. McHenry Avenue for $285,000.  (361,200 is in City Budget for “land purchase” this year.  See page 203.)

In all the Board has purchased six properties since 2003,

  • Three on McHenry Avenue
  • Two on W. Crystal Lake Avenue
  • One on Paddock Street

The total cost to taxpayers was almost $2 million.

Here are the details:

  • 17 McHenry Ave.                       $231,995             June 17, 2003
  • 81 W. Crystal Lake Ave.              172,366             July 18, 2014
  • 91 W. Crystal Lake Ave.              600,000             July 18, 2014 (4 flat)
  • 1 S. McHenry Ave.                      307,730              Sept 19, 2014
  • 94 Paddock                                  328,868              Feb 27, 2015
  • 11 S. McHenry                             285,000             Jan 19, 2017

TOTAL                                         $1,925,959

That’s in addition to o paying over $700,000 to the architectural firm


CL Library Still Expanding Footprint, $1,925,959 Spent So Far — 38 Comments

  1. Thank you, Cal for reporting on this nonsense.

    The CL Library Board is like a spoiled child, retaliating after it was told “NO”.

    Shady, shady, shady.

    So tired of this!!!

  2. Cary spent 2.6 million for a complete renovation including roof and HVAC replacements.

    CL will soon be at that number.

  3. Can anyone explain the rationale behind continuing to actively purchase property only 2 months after the referendum to gauge taxpayers’ interest in this project failed 56-44?

    Has there been any explanation as to why the language in the revised referendum question from earlier this month utilized the original cost estimate of $132 instead of an updated figure that more accurately reflected the much higher interest rate environment we operate in today?

    Has the Library released updated cost estimates that represent today’s market rates?

    Given that higher interest rates will now increase the debt service (Principal plus Interest) by more than 10% over the original estimate to roughly $47 million, combined with the sunk costs of $2.6 million mentioned above, does the public know this project is closing in on the $50 million mark?

  4. I’m sorry, evidently CL has already spent more than Cary did for their renovation.

    Yes, CL is bigger but to continue to buy land after a failed referendum should be referred for a legal opinion on misuse of taxpayer funds.

  5. Coffey, in my opinion the referendum was a feeler to gauge how much the taxpayers were against the idea so the committee could formulate a better battle plan.

    Furthermore we the taxpayers have no recourse but to take a spanking as it’s shoved down our throats.

    This project is more than likely a done deal already and if not they will not walk away from it.

    These cities have a voracious appetite for our money.

    Wonder who the palace will be named after?

  6. There is a deestablish clause in the library constitution of Illinois.

    Someone need to look into that and then we need to run these horrifically stupid people out of town after they have no library to whine about.

    I would also be interested in clawing this money back that they STOLE FROM US!

  7. What needs to be done to get this library board fired or what can someone do to be put on this board?

    It’s not an elected board right?

  8. A few more questions:

    1. The City paid $285,000 for the property at 11 S. McHenry had just been assessed at $176,403. Why would the City pay more than $100,000 over Fair Market Value?

    2. Given that all the purchased properties identified above have been removed (or about to be removed) from the tax rolls, how much more in taxes have been paid every year by the residents of the city/township/county because these properties are now tax-exempt?

  9. This is absolute sickening we can’t pay pensions but yet they can piss $$ away on this crap!

    Someone needs to be FIRED!


    or Persons!

  10. If a new library is inevitable, why not be smart about its location and put it in the Route 14 corridor?

    This would be a huge attraction for other businesses that would feed off the traffic that a library would generate.

    Other small businesses would love to be located next to a busy library and have this nearby foot traffic and exposure.

    This would help fill up empty storefronts, increase retail tax revenue and real estate tax revenue.

    A library on Route 14 would be more centrally located for residents south of town and perhaps people from other communities would visit and shop at nearby stores!

    Why not?

    In my opinion, we have city decision makers who are mostly townies – they are more interested in building their pretty, Norman Rockwell town than thinking out of the box with creative economic development strategies.

    This may be why the City is committed to a library in the old downtown district.

    I know the library looked at many locations but it seems as if our Mayor has set the tone for his preference and if the library board wants to get a new library done, they probably are going to go along with the wishes of the guy who makes the final decision.

    For years, the City has embarked on their downtown agenda that has really not significantly improved retail sales, but has drained a lot of money from, I’m assuming, the general fund.

    I believe this is the same fund that helps maintain roads, etc. in Crystal Lake.

    Since the TIF expired around 10 years ago, the city has plowed a lot of additional money into additional downtown beautification projects without making downtown building owners pitch in a cent for these expenses.

    The city has funded a lot of perks, and bought, built, and rebuilt parking lots that benefit only certain businesses in Crystal Lake – the downtown businesses and building owners. To this day, the city maintains, plows, and resurfaces these parking lots at no expense to the downtown businesses and building owners.

    One parking lot at the corner of CL Avenue and Main street is never used.

    It sits empty, (and is always plowed) yet the downtown folks claim they need more parking.

    These are huge expenses that businesses outside of the downtown area have to pay for themselves.

    Is this fair?

    Yes and no.

    Downtown did need help and a thriving downtown district is a showcase for Crystal Lake and a great place to host events.

    Downtown is very pretty and there are some very nice, unique stores in downtown that give Crystal Lake a great local feeling.

    These are mom and pop’s that benefit from some help and to me, this is what an old downtown district is all about.

    What’s unfair is that there are now larger businesses downtown whose patrons take up a lot of parking spaces and the city has granted these businesses large parking variance and do not charge them anything.

    Some buildings downtown are National Chains (Starbucks) or are owned by wealthy attorneys.

    Do they need these subsidies?

    NO, because similar businesses outside of the downtown area do not get these benefits!

    The city brags that the downtown is thriving.

    Why can’t these thriving businesses pitch in and help mend the split business community in Crystal Lake?

    Also, the downtown area has been mismanaged and because of the non-existent CAM expenses, extremely/ridiculously low real estate taxes, and many other perks, the downtown area is filled but it is filled with non-retail generating businesses like banks, attorneys, financial/insurance companies, hair salons, nail, salons, barbers, massage and yoga studios.

    Most retail centers limit or prohibit similar businesses in close proximity to each other.

    It’s not a healthy business environment to allow 10 or 15 similar businesses on the same block and not fair to businesses who have been in the area for a long time.

    I wonder whether the downtown area generates enough incremental retail tax dollars to pay for all the perks they have enjoyed for years.

    It’s a great deal for these businesses that do not contribute anything to the general fund!

    It would be an interesting analysis to see what the city’s ROI is downtown and to see if some of the money spent for expensive street scaping and ongoing capital expenditures and subsidies could have been used to maintain, improve, or possibly fund a good chunk of a new library?

    Could the city start charging downtown building owners rent and maintenance fees for the parking lots to generate money to help fund a new library?

    Meh – I doubt if things will change.

    It’s the city culture.

    The bad feelings caused by the city’s favoritism toward only “some” businesses is also bad policy for those business owners who see their competitors get special treatment.

    Business owners outside of the downtown area are really very-much ignored by the city. We just pay the bills.

    Just my rambling thoughts.

  11. Only way that would happen is if Aaron or one of his fellow cowboys owned the land out there.

  12. Coffey, do you know who sold that property and how long they owned it?

  13. CP, tax records show: STOUGHTON LYNN E REV TR
    I don’t know how long they owned it.

  14. Just wondering if it’s a situation like the one where the county board chairman co-owned the land that was going to be bought by RTA

  15. Board members are appointed by the Crystal Lake City Council.

  16. It was bought from the estate of the late Ms. Stoughton with funds from the library’s Reserve funds according to the minutes.

  17. The city council is as corrupt as they come.

    Tyranny runs rampant in this city just like all of Illinois.

    It’s where the crooks come from.

    We are famous for it.

  18. Somebody send a FOIA requesting a copy of the appraisal they got to justify the $285,000 purchase price.

    My gut instinct says there wasn’t one.

  19. Will everyone who commented here PLEASE write a letter to the Northwest Herald with your complaint?

    This issue needs to be publicized, especially with a contested election for CL City Council in April.

  20. I heard the Dist 155 was considering closing one of the schools because of low numbers attending.

    Why not move it there instead of taking more property off the tax rolls?

  21. We don’t need to move the library because we don’t need a bigger library.

    First, usage is down by more than 20% both in terms of people visiting the library each day and in terms of books circulated.

    Second, the cost is outrageous.

    We pay more than twice as much, per family, for our library as they pay in Woodstock and Cary.

    And it costs taxpayers over $6.00 for the library to circulate one book or DVD.

    And 40% of what they circulate now is DVDs.

    So we, the taxpayers, are paying four times what it costs to get the same DVD from RedBox.

    And everybody in Crystal Lake knew the people were against paying for a bigger library, even with the Library’s deceptive advertising campaign.

    Everybody except the Library Board, that is.

    So the City Council has permitted the Library to spend almost two million of the taxpayers’ dollars to buy property for a fantasy library the people of Crystal Lake don’t want.

    So much for the City Council exercising any fiduciary oversight!

  22. I would assume that the board is trying to push past the tipping point.

    With all this property already purchased they will argue that there is no point in stopping now.

    Thus far there is still a library that, if to continue, needs repair and properties that no longer contribute taxes and at least $2 million spent.

    Add to that, CL voters said no to the new library.

    This lack of respect for taxpayer funds borders on criminal behavior.

  23. CP, you’ll notice that nowhere on this blog is there a single posting that explains rationally and with definitive evidence why the board has bought so much property, nor any posting refuting the claims about

    (a) the unreasonable cost of the library relative to other libraries;

    (b) the unreasonable cost to circulate DVDs relative to the private sector; or

    (c) why the Library is lending DVDs of recent hit movies (DVDs are now 40% of their circulation, that is, what the public purpose is and how private enterprise has failed such that the government needs to intervene.

    They haven’t because they can’t.

    The facts are against them.

    But the members of the library board, like most members of most special purpose units of government, ran not to represent the public but because they love the government.

    The people on the library board love libraries.

    They think a bigger library is always better and people who don’t understand that are either ignorant or malign.

    They are not interested in facts that contradict them. Indeed, they’re immune to such facts.

    These are people who are well intentioned but myopic. They’re often nice people in every other way and active in local business, in their church, and in the community.

    But the library is their baby and when you oppose them you are insulting their baby and they react like any mother bear.

    They do not understand that their role is NOT to represent the library (if they want that, they should be on the Friends of the Library board), but to represent the public as a CHECK on the library (government) bureaucracy.

    Because they see themselves as doing a noble thing, they believe that anything they do is acceptable.

    If any other government ran as devious a campaign as the Library Board (and its employees did), these same people would be aghast!

    But when they do it, it’s more than acceptable, it’s necessary and right.

    The end justifies the means, and whatever they do can’t be wrong because they are good people, Q.E.D.

    They are righteous in the extreme.

  24. The latest budget proposal for Illinois includes a 2 year property tax freeze. Many items in the budget proposal have been in flux but the property tax freeze appears to be a stable item under consideration. I wonder if the library board and the city feel they need to ram this through before a property tax freeze is in place?

  25. That makes sense.

    Not sure why they are given a free hand by the elected officials of the city.

  26. Think about it…the city council appoints people to the board.

    I don’t think they would appoint people that they don’t like or people who are not like-minded in terms of the future of a library.

    I’m willing to bet that a good portion of the city council wants a new library, especially Aaron, who is a very-well paid attorney for Centegra.

    He doesn’t live in the realm of having to worry about abusive property taxes.

    In terms of this showcase library, it’s really all about the city council’s downtown agenda.

    If I remember correctly, Aaron nixed a route 14 location years ago.

    Most on the city council are townies and most have no experience running a business=no regard for unfair, excessive spending.

    They have this affinity toward maintaining a quaint little shopping area with no regard to its cost or ROI.

    If the city had not poured excessive amounts of money building rarely-used parking lots in downtown (at the whim and urging of the downtown merchants), AND at no expense to the merchants or building owners, they could have used that money to properly maintain the library.

    I have a suggestion for the city council.

    Even the playing field for all businesses in Crystal Lake.

    Why not make downtown an SSA and increase their real estate taxes to pay for a new library.

    They’ve had a nice little free ride for years.

    Their current real estate taxes are pretty low compared to other commercial properties in Crystal Lake.

    Also, stop paying for all the downtown building owner’s CAM expenses and save that money for library maintenance.

    Start thinking like a business person.

  27. its like the 14million $$ gravel pit!

    the infrastructure of the entire town is falling down, but let’s just piss more $$ away on NONSENSE!

    VOTE them out!!!

    they have already for gone put us in debt with the P and F depts.

    pensions with their wastefulness.

    They have no clue how to Stop themselves so We The People Must do it for them!

  28. You can’t vote them out.

    They are APPOINTED (by the nitwits that are in the city council)!

    Everything Steve said goes double for the city council people.

  29. I went to the Fishing show in Schaumburg yesterday, there was a booth there for the Three Oaks rec area.

    Just saying.

  30. Cal,

    I’d presume in the context above that “CAM expense” refers to a “common area maintenance expense.”

    When you buy a commercial condo or rent office space in a larger building, CAM refers to the cost charged back to you to maintain the common areas, e.g. roof, parking lot, common lobby.

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