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Baby, Look at Us Now!

The dream is within reach. Great changes are happening at the Brainerd Building.

There have been a lot of changes at Brainerd this fall, exciting changes. First and foremost, we are proud to announce that THE HEAT IS ON! (To quote Kermit, YAAAAY!) Thanks to the roof work that was accomplished in November, we have been able to effectively heat the classroom building, and the furnace is merrily pumping away, drawing out the moisture and making the building comfortable for winter (while diverting further damage that occurs in unheated buildings). Of course, heat is expensive, and it will be kept VERY low, but it is a major step forward.

And therein comes the pitch: Now's the perfect time to donate to Brainerd. A donation of $60 would provide heat to the building for one day. A mere 100 such donations would keep the building comfortable for the entire winter.

Besides getting that end-of-year charitable donation deduction, you would be making a strong statement about your commitment to a community center that would draw the entire area together, providing education and entertainment for all ages.

Other changes include the restoration of windows on the southeast side of the classroom building (see photo). It runs about $600 to scrape, repair, re-pane and restore each three-window grouping, so if you are inclined to donate a little more, you could "adopt" such a group. They look so great when finished, and the old building deserves to look good--think of all she gave to Libertyville, and all she could provide once more.

The Brainerd Community Center is a reachable dream. We're moving forward, and we hope you will move with us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donny December 03, 2011 at 09:48 PM
A few questions maybe some posters could answer that might better help residents determine if this project can be a success or just another flop: How much money will it take just to bring the building up from it's current state of disrepair? How much more money would be needed to say renovate and make the building functional as a community center? If just the heat at a low temp cost $1800 a month for six months, how much per year is need to just operate and staff the facility? Who currently owns the property? About how much money is being raised each year to support this project? I think the thing should be torn down along with many other Libertyville friends of mine and the land used for another purpose, but I am willing to keep an open mind. I would say that the project needs 8 to 11 million easy and even if 1 million a year were raised you're talking YEARS till the restoration and conversion would be complete. Thanks in advance.
J.B.L. December 03, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Thanks, Donny, we appreciate community-minded people such as yourself who are willing to listen and learn before jumping. All of those questions have been addressed in various forms in the past, but are well worth looking at again. I would suggest that rather than doing research in past articles, you stop in at the next meeting, December 14 at 7, and have your issues addressed personally. We usually meet at the civic center, but there is talk about actually meeting this month at Brainerd, so if you send us an email or give us a call (check our Web site, www.savebrainerd.org), we'd be happy to let you know where. It's easy to ask questions, but you have to be willing to listen to the answers as well. We are all in this together.
Jill Harkaway December 04, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Well said Joyce! It is easy to knock down ideas when the time hasn't been taken to become fully informed. Opinions are not facts and conjecture is not truth. The Brainerd meeting are open to the public. We invite discussion as well as donations. (If you wish to make a donation visit www.SaveBrainerd.org!)
J.B.L. December 04, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I also received word that the December meeting will be at Austin's, adding a little holiday cheer to a very cheery group! All are invited to come see that we are a good group with a lot of heart for a building that is likewise.
Donny December 04, 2011 at 07:49 PM
It sounds like the two of you above are very involved and should have the answers to my questions but I am perplexed as to why you are not answering them. I appreciate your invitation to join the meeting but I am much to busy to attend. Most Libertyville residents like myself think the village has plenty of community space in the Adler Center, Sports Complex, and Civic Center. I have yet to see any budget numbers floated to the public on the total cost of the project and what exactly the building will be used for. And I am starting to think it's about a handful of people involved not a big community movement like this needs to be to be successful. So please, answer the above questions so you can get the greater public interested and excited about the project.
Ana Draa December 05, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Donny...if you think there is plenty of communty space available, you must not be involved in planning many events in Libertyville. As someone who has had the difficult task of finding a meeting space for 150 - 200 people in Libertyville, let me tell you, the pickings are very slim! I looked everywhere; churches, civic center, sports complex, private restaurants, etc...ended up at the High School as literally the one and only place that could accomodate a group of that size. As far as the number of people who care about seeing Brainerd brought back to live as a community resource...you'd only have to drive past their annual fundraiser, the wine & cigar festival to see the number of people willing to support this cause! I would say the extremely large crowd they have drawn two years running is a very good indication of what how most Libertyville residents feel about this effort. We're lucky in Libertyville to have people like Ms. Lee and the rest of the committee, willing to work hard to bring this resource to life for all of us. We're all busy. If you are really interested, beyond taking potshots from the sidelines...take the time to attend their meeting and get involved.
Donny December 06, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Restaurants trip over themselves to serve parties of 150 to 200, the Libertyville Civic Center has room for 200 guests as it states it right on their web site and at very reasonable rates I might add. I went to the fundraiser this year because I love wine and the occasional cigar. I along with my friends, really could care less about where the money goes. I currently differ in opinion and think the building should be torn down, a difference of opinion does not make a potshot. I like many residents, have many financial questions because quite honestly, big picture, its going to take ten to 15 million just to make the building into a community center. I asked some very reasonable questions and I am still waiting for some answers. Hopefully someone can honestly and accurately answer them in this public forum in the next few days.
Brian L. December 06, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Not to just butt in on an online discussion, but I believe that your questions were already answered by inviting you to the public meeting to have your concerns addressed in person. On top of that, most of them are answered to some extent on the link at http://www.savebrainerd.org. If tax dollars are not being sought out to run the building, I don't see the major concern on your behalf, since you said you don't care about the cause while enjoying what the land was used for. On a more personal not, being a former student at Brainerd, one of the last to roll through my freshman year, I love the fact that it is getting a face lift and look forward to the day it can be re-opened. When my now wife and I were looking for a place to get married and have our reception we wanted to keep it in Libertyville. We were planning everything right around the time that Brainerd had a tour going and we both thought it would be perfect for such an occasion, minus the current condition of the building.
Ana Draa December 07, 2011 at 02:27 AM
Donny...you are correct...there was one restaurant in Libertyville that could accomodate a group of our size...at Indpendence Grove. Beautiful setting, pefect for a scouting group....only problem was, we didn't have $25/head for a cub scout gathering. Restaurants in general are cost prohibitive for a not-for-profit group. We could afford hundreds, not thousands. The Civic Center was already rented for the evening we wanted it. Trust me....I spent months checking out venues, the pickings are extremely slim. Re: your attendance at the wine & cigar fundraiser, I'm sure they were just as happy to take your money either way...:) I hear your fiscal concerns, but demanding answers to rather complicated questions here seems not very productive. If you really care...why not just take the time to attend the meeting if you really want answers?
Donny December 07, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Thanks for the answers, the place should still be torn down. Raising 10 to 15 million will NEVER happen AND the building is still owned by Dist 128. I would not want to improve a house that I was renting, that is the owners job. Dist 128 is going to want either a very long term lease (100 yrs.) or they will sell the property both costing additional millions. Dist 128 needs to sell the property to a developer, maybe keep the original building as say a club house and get that area paying property taxes. Or develop that area into a concentrated living School St. like retail district with large chain stores, perhaps keeping a wall or two of the old building and Integrate it into the new architecture. Your looking at a total cost of maybe 25 million after lease / purchase and renovation. Raising this money over say even a ten year period is not going to happen. Are you raising 2.5 million a year, no. My guess is you are raising maybe 50,000 a year. That's sad, because then the dream then becomes a financial impossible nightmare. That was one of my questions that nobody would answer. The village needs to exit the lease and take that money and fix our roads. I guess for now, the residents of Libertyville will have to watch the building sit and rot and go largely unused while a vocal few play out a impossible dream.
Ana Draa December 08, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Not butting in at all Brian! This being a public forum, it's great to hear folks speaking for themselves, rather than a self-appointed spokesperson speaking on behalf of others. Building aside, the Brainerd property is very important to Libertyville High School. It provides parking for any non-senior student, plus an additional, very heavily used, sports field. I doubt District 128 will be divesting themselves of this property. Best of luck to Joyce and the rest of the group on their efforts!
J.B.L. December 09, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Donny, you have lots of great ideas for the space, but if the building is torn down it will simply become a parking lot for the school. Period. The current plan is for outside groups to rent space, and the business plan shows the buiding will be self-sustaining in that manner. As for not answering your questions, you could better put the time you spend giving uninformed figures (25 million? Nowhere near.) to actually either doing the correct research or giving an hour of your time to come to a meeting and getting the facts face-to-face. We would welcome the chance to meet you and answer any and all questions fully. Or at least check out our Web site and get the facts. History is important--we must remember where we came from in order to appreciate where we are and where we are going.
Donny December 09, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Joyce, I think more creative ideas are out there than a parking lot. Just because my opinion differs from yours does not mean I'm doing "incorrect research". I have checked out the web site, it's well done, but I did not see any fundraising, budget details, etc. there. And the list of supporters on the site just confirms that it is a small group of supporters. Anybody who has tackled a project such as a restoration or say even something more simple as placing as addition on their home KNOWS that there is always cost over-run especially in restoration. Sometimes restoration actual costs can be twice what is expected. Your web site has an estimate of 10 to 15 million, that is pretty loose. The total cost will be 15 million, if your lucky. 25 million might be a stretch. I would go 19.5 million for a 30% cost over-run. You know your going to run into a few "night-mare" areas in old buildings. All the numbers aside our small village of 21k residents has plenty of community space. Put the property in the hands of a private owner or owners that want to preserve the history. It will much more effective in preserving the history of the building than a few supporters linked with government entities such as the village and the school district.

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