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Brainerd Building Debate Tops Week's Libertyville News

The death of a Libertyville man while snorkeling and a DUI arrest also made the list.

Click through on the links above to read some of Libertyville's top stories of the past week.
mike kollman February 08, 2014 at 03:04 PM
I support the Brainerd Community Center Referendum because it is the right thing to do………on many different levels. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, which means it has been recognized as being important to our community, and identified by experts as worthy of preservation. Numerous civic organizations have expressed their support with the hope that this project could provide a permanent home for cultural opportunities such as music, dance, theater and community organizations. The possibilities are limitless. Historic preservation is typically judged to be a sound investment. Look no further than the Main Street program and the Village Hall (re-purposed from the old fire station) to see how this has benefited the residents and businesses in Libertyville. Character adds value. According to studies done by the Brookings Institution and others, it is more efficient and profitable to preserve an historic building than to construct a new one. Remodeling is more labor intensive than new construction and according to these studies, restoration or remodeling projects will create 36 jobs for every $1 million invested. Many will directly benefit the community in which the project is located. Every study that has been done over the past 15 years has concluded that the Brainerd Building is structurally sound and a good candidate for restoration. Environmental issues such as asbestos would have to be mitigated regardless of whether the buildings are re-used or demolished. Financially this suggests the bricks and mortar can be viewed as commodities or raw materials. Why throw them into a landfill if a viable use has been identified? Recycling the building is the responsible thing to do. When we throw away a building, we simultaneously throw away the embodied energy incorporated into that building. How significant is embodied energy: studies have shown that the amount of embodied energy contained in the Brainerd Buildings is equivalent to about 785,000 gallons of gasoline or $2.5-3 million dollars. It would be irresponsible to just throw this away if there are viable alternatives. Creating a “destination” for people to attend events staged by local organizations will bring more people into the downtown. This is good for local businesses. The Save Brainerd Organization indicates that user fees will support the operational cost of the building once the doors are open. The whole purpose of sustainable development is to keep that which is important, which is valuable, which is significant. For a community to be viable there needs to be a link between environmental responsibility and economic responsibility; In the United States we collect almost one ton of solid waste per person annually. Around a fourth of the material in solid waste facilities is construction debris, much of that from the demolition of older and historic buildings. Buildings should not be saved just because they are old. Buildings should be saved because they will add value to their communities. The city tells it own past, transfers its own memory, largely through the fabric of the built environment. Historic buildings are the physical manifestation of memory – it is memory that makes places significant. We stand at a crossroads. The decision that we make in March will say a lot about the things that we value in our community. To reduce this prime piece of real estate into a parking lot or tennis court would be a real shame. I am proud to support this referendum. I can’t think of a better way to spend the 50 cents or so a day that the referendum will cost me to help bring the Brainerd Building back into use, providing a valuable resource to our community for years to come.
Sean G. February 08, 2014 at 08:16 PM
Mike the right thing to do is not raise taxes in an already overburdened taxpayer. It will cost the average Libertyville taxpayer $300 a year in extra taxes in addition to higher state income taxes, don't forget the "temporary" village utility tax, higher tolls, higher taxes from the road bonds issued... Not yo mention higher taxes after their witch craft financial numbers melt down. Vote no friends in Libertyville. Tell your neighbors, friends, and fellow worshippers.
Sean G. February 08, 2014 at 08:19 PM
Why not save the gym and turn it into an indoor hockey rink? I'm sure the Village looked at that as an option...
marcus8182 February 09, 2014 at 01:17 PM
Mike, yes, preservation is great when it's financially feasible, but in this particular case, the central issues remain unsolved. The village doesn't OWN the building, and wouldn't, even IF it was repurposed. There's no demonstrated need for a performance facility in the village (as witnessed by the lack of organizations who've signed up to occupy the space). And the existing Civic Center is underutilized as is, despite very reasonable rental rates. Unfortunately, the best use of the Brainerd space would have been as a new home for the library, but now that that ship has sailed, there are few other options that are both cost-effective and genuinely useful. Writers Theatre in Glencoe will be building a new facility to support their work, and already has $22million pledged toward the costs, most of it from a small group of local donors. Those same donors will make sure that Writers has the type of support they need to keep the facility operating once it's up and running. In the case of Brainerd, no major donors have been located and no big pledges have been made, which doesn't bode well for the continued operation of the facility once it's open. Short of locating several million dollars in pledged private support and getting commitments from those who'll be using the space, this effort is very much about preservation, but not about fulfilling a genuine need with genuine support.
Margaret McCarthy February 10, 2014 at 01:51 PM
Right, Marcus. Mike, please read the earlier threads of comments or better yet, attend one of the two upcoming meetings and really think about about two items: the anticipated revenue stream from catering that is blatantly unrealistic and the fact that any shortfall in revenues will come out of Libertyville's already constrained budget.

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