Monday, February 18, 2013

Chatham Residents Impatient for Young Library Expansion - Chicago

Five years ago the city announced plans to expand the Whitney M. Young Library branch, but residents wonder if they will have to wait another few years before the project is done.

The Public Building Commission this week approved a $1.2 million federal grant to perform an environmental cleanup on the expansion site next to the library, but that isn't expected to be done until toward the end of this year. And officials say they haven't secured the funds to actually complete the expansion.

Residents are growing impatient.

City officials "make promises all the time to the black community and do not keep them," said Doris White, 51, who grew up in Chatham. "If this library was in Lincoln Park or downtown they would have been finished expanding it, but because it is in the black neighborhood they figure we can wait."

The vacant lot adjacent to the 11,000 square-foot library at 7901 S. King Drive was previously occupied by a dry cleaners. Expansion plans include expanding the library to 16,500 square feet.

A cleanup "is necessary due to pockets of contamination from a cleaning establishment which occupied one of the lots," said Ruth Lednicer, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Library.

But while the environmental cleanup is expected to be finished later this year, Lednicer said there is still no timetable on when the expansion would begin. That's because the commission, which is overseeing the project, has not yet secured money to pay for it.
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