Urbana Free Library Foundation Wants to Acquire Corner Lot
URBANA – The Urbana Free Library Foundation wants to purchase the vacant lot at the northwest corner of Race and Green streets, and is asking residents to donate to help the foundation pay for it.
And the appeal appears to be working, with a strong initial response in the first three weeks of the foundation's annual fund-drive campaign.
The vacant lot was formerly home to the Auler Law Offices, but the brick, two-story building was found to be structurally unsound and was condemned by the city in October 2014. The building was demolished by the owners a few months later.
Foundation board President Bob Switzer said that the view of the historic library building at 210 W. Green St. is now unimpeded and quite impressive.
“Once the building was razed, it created just a wonderful view of the library’s southern façade,” Switzer said. “The public has often spoken to (foundation board) members how pleased they are with the open appearance of the library now. They have encouraged us to make that lot a permanent part of the library and we agree with them.”
The UFL Foundation board voted late last week to authorize an appraisal of the property by an independent appraiser, a process that is expected to take a few weeks to complete. Negotiations are then expected to commence with the ownership group, based in Indiana, Switzer said.
The lot has been for sale for over a year.
The annual fund drive letter, sent to library supporters in late November, has gotten a strong response -- with donations ranging from $15 to over $14,000, including a few $1,000 donations.
Those interested in donating can make a check payable to The Urbana Free Library Foundation, 210 W. Green St., Urbana, IL, 61801. Online donations can be made at http://urbanafreelibrary.org/support-us/urbana-free-library-foundation.
Library Executive Director Celeste Choate said that funding will be needed not only for the lot purchase price, but also to landscape the site and create a welcoming approach to the library’s main entrance.
Residents who want to donate strictly for the acquisition of the lot can do so by specifying that intent on their check or return slip, she said. Some donors have done that.
The annual fund drive also helps the library pay for “UFL Live,” a series of free monthly musical performances as well as other library programs and collections. One new collection is the 3D science collection, which includes telescopes, microscopes, binoculars, globes, and human anatomy models, which help you take a closer look at the world around you.
The foundation also might be asked to help pay for hiring an intern for the upcoming year to help catalogue over 700 cubic feet of materials received a year ago following the closure of the Chanute Air Museum. The Chanute Air Force Base opened in 1917, and centennial anniversary celebrations are being planned. The Urbana Free Library houses the Champaign County Historical Archives.
The foundation is a tax-exempt 501©( 3) organization and donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.