By Lyle R. Rolfe –
West Side Aurora residents have been concerned since late last year about the future of the West Branch of the Aurora Public Library that is attached to the Washington Middle School.
Dr. Jeffrey Craig, West Aurora School District 129 superintendent, said School District officials have not commented on the issue, but said they were approached about the Library and a conversation was started.
“It was mentioned at a City Ward meeting and that spawned much of the conversation that started all this controversy,” he said referring to rumors that the school District was planning to take over the West Branch Library building.
“We were approached and a conversation started,” Craig said. “We were not saying we wanted the space. We said if it became available we might be interested.
“Could we use it? Sure we could,” he said.
Craig said a 1998 agreement between the school District and City government, which appoints the library board members, said the School District has the right for first refusal of the building if it is vacated by the Library Board.
The District owns the land under the building, so if the Library vacates the building, the School District has first refusal rights to purchase it at an appraised or agreed upon value. Otherwise the Library can sell it to who ever it wants, he said.
Craig noted that the School District four years ago agreed to take over the former Dreyer Medical complex which occupies 15 acres bounded by Galena Boulevard, Downer Place, Edgelawn Drive, and Reimer Drive.
A four-year renovation project of the building originally occupied by Dreyer Medical has nothing to do with the West Library Branch, or Washington Middle School. These (projects), were in process four years ago, Craig said.
Considering the amount of land and square footage in the former Dreyer buildings, some residents think this means the School District would not need the West Library Branch building, Craig said.
“We said if available we might be interested because we have challenges that we are trying to address in all of our buildings.
We don’t currently have the ability to perform these services. We would provide these opportunities in a centralized location if that was available.”
He said the District uses other facilities to give hundreds of student immunizations, and perform vision exams and dental exams. Several District schools serve food to students from food pantries, which could be done from the Library building, he said.
Craig said the School District is a partner with some of the providers such as the Visiting Nurse Association which helps treat the students several days each week.
“But if the Library stays there, we will find a way to take care of these things,” Craig said.
The decision was made by the Aurora Public Library Tuesday, Jan., 22 to stay in place. Click here to see the article.