Update: 227 North Wyman, Part 2

This is the second of three posts on my work regarding the Library Board’s decision to purchase and demolish 227 North Wyman Street.  The first post can be found here.

After reaching out to Mr. Logli, I continued my correspondence by reaching out to the following individuals:

ComEd: I spoke with George Gaulrapp, Public Relations Manager at ComEd, on 16 March.  Our chat was brief but amiable. Mr. Gaulrapp expressed ComEd’s commitment to address the environmental remediation issue in a thorough, timely manner, and citied their prior remediation projects at Fordham Dam and Avon Street

Again, few substantial details emerged, likely due to the Confidentiality Agreement noted in the prior post.  Mr. Gaulrapp did mention, however, that a rep from ComEd, Gail McMillan (sp?), will be attending the Library meeting on the 22nd.

IDOT:  When I asked Mr. Logli if the City-owned surface parking lots could be used for ComEd’s staging, I was told that there are “IDOT stipulations” prohibiting the Library from doing so.  I reached out to Brian Mayer, an IDOT employee from Dixon, to get his response on the matter.  Here’s a summary: 

-IDOT does not own the surface parking lots; the City does. 

-IDOT does own the portion of Wyman Street, also known as IL Route 2, which runs in between the Library and the parking lots.

-As far as IDOT is concerned, the parking lots can be used for staging; there is no hard and fast rule in the matter.  If the entrances onto Wyman were used for staging purposes, IDOT would need to be contacted; it’s likely however, per Mr. Mayer, that they would be fine with the temporary use. 

Here’s the deal.  I believe that ample surface parking is available for staging purposes.  A discussion, then, needs to happen with both Hinshaw & Culbertson (who own the lot north of the Library), and the City for the Library to use these lots.   Will that inconvenience current users of the lots?  Sure.  Consider, however, the amount of parking located just steps from the surface lots I’m proposing. 

The red squares on the map above show the amount of surface parking in proximity to the library.  Some lots are privately owned, others are owned by churches; perhaps they would be open to temporary use?  Regardless: There are two public parking decks each located one block away from the surface parking lots next to the library.  Sure, our parking decks require users to pay; but if Donald Shoup has anything to say about it, our parking isn’t ever ‘free’ anyway.  It’s time we start thinking of ourselves as a City, rather than a car repository.  But I digress.

Developer: I even reached out to Hobart Historic Restoration out of Cedar Rapids to see if they would consider 227, among other properties, as part of an adaptive reuse package.  Hobart responded fairly quickly; while they have considered properties in Rockford before, the cost and logistics entailed with traveling from Cedar Rapids makes them unable to pursue 227 at this time.  

So: If 227 does end up getting demolished, it’s not been for a lack of trying to fight it.  However, I think this matter is far from over.  In fact, I maintain a hope that the building will remain standing.  Some lessons learned–as well as questions you can ask at the March 22nd Board Meeting–are coming in tomorrow’s post.