Update: 227 North Wyman, Part 1

It’s been over three weeks since my letter to the Rockford Public Library Board regarding their decision to purchase and demolish 227 North Wyman Street, a Georgian Revival circa 1912 that is a contributing building to our historically built downtown.  In the letter, I argued that the library should not remove a property from the tax rolls primarily for temporary staging purposes, and should consider adaptively reusing the property if it indeed wishes to purchase the building.

Our Public Library is a valuable asset, not least because of the multiplicity and diversity of uses in its immediate context.  Demolishing a building diminishes multiplicity; we become less urban, less diverse, and more vulnerable.  Cities build incrementally and gradually, not immediately and drastically.  Cities build up, not out, and the stakeholders therein do not cannibalize valuable, long-term, revenue-generating properties for short-term gains.

Since the letter, I’ve researched the property in detail and reached out to a number of persons regarding what to do next.  I’ll take the next couple of days to share what I’ve done.  In the meantime, here’s what you can do over the next week.

1: Attend the Library’s ‘Town Hall’ Meeting, Tuesday March 22nd, 5:30p, at the Nordlof Center.  Presentation content will likely include features that the new library will include, relocation possibilities, and more.  I’m not sure if 227 will be brought up, or if the floor will be open for comments on it.  To be honest, I’m not even sure all Board members will be present.  According to RRStar articles, however, Transform Rockford will be facilitating the meeting, and Architects Joe Huberty and Jennifer Spencer will be present.  

2: Contact the Board. Email addresses for all Board members are available on their website.  Contact them.  Public input regarding location, reconstruction, and possible demolition of 227 is critically important.  Constructive feedback > Baseless, ad hominem attacks, every time.  So offer input of substance.

WHAT I’VE DONE

Library Board Chair: I spoke with Paul Logli, Chairman of the Library Board, on 29 February.  Mr. Logli was very generous with his time, and we had a good discussion.  He mentioned upfront that the Board is under a Confidentiality Agreement with ComEd, so he did not go into detail.  However, a couple of items emerged from our conversation: 

    -227 North Wyman has been purchased by the Library. 

    -The plans are for the building to be demolished.

That conversation occurred nearly three weeks ago, so more developments may have occurred since then.  Perhaps the Board is moving forward with demolition, or perhaps public input has caused them to think twice about it.  Unfortunately, the Board has not provided any details regarding 227 in particular, or the Library’s remediation/reconstruction/relocation (?) process since the RRStar’s post on 22 February.  Even this week’s updates on WIFR and RRStar were remarkably ambiguous.   Will a communication strategy be revealed at Tuesday’s meeting?  We’ll see.

More to come tomorrow.