Tensions rose over discussions of a new library in Smyrna during the Smyrna Town Council meeting on July 5, as there has been some confusion over what is going on in the planning of the new library.


Tensions rose over discussions of a new library in Smyrna during the Smyrna Town Council meeting on July 5, as there has been some confusion over what is going on in the planning of the new library.

Councilman Jeffrey Flairty wanted to discuss the library in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion.

“I think it’s important to enforce at this point council’s commitment to building a new library and in improving library services in town and finding a way to build a new library,” Flairty said.

Reinforcing the Council’s support for the new library proved to be difficult due to the confusion that has risen over the two groups involved in the process: the Smyrna Public Library Guild and the Smyrna Public Library Advisory Commission.

A representative from both groups spoke to the Council during the meeting with both sides working on two different ends of the spectrum.

Jennifer Merrill, president of the library guild, spoke to the Council about what they have been working on and to ask whether or not the Council still supports the new library. Last November, Mayor Pat Stombaugh wrote a letter to the guild enforcing Council’s support of the new library.

Merrill said the guild has a meeting in September with the Council on Libraries where they’ll be asking for more funding. They’ve already received $150,000 for the library. However, Merrill said it’s important the guild shows they have support from the town when they go to this meeting.

Library Commission member Alice Holman spoke out against the library guild questioning the possibility the library may not be in Smyrna as well as questioning the suggested name “Duck Creek Regional Library” stating the town graduated from Duck Creek to Smyrna years ago.

Council Concerns

The division among the two groups and the council appeared to be of great concern to Stombaugh, who felt discussion of the new library at the council meeting was premature. Stombaugh had previously suggested the two groups and council meet in a summit to discuss the possibility of a new library.

 “I think we all agree it’d be wonderful to build a new library,” Stombaugh said, “We have to find a way to make that happen and we have to work together.”

Councilwoman Joanne Masten said her concern isn’t necessarily with the library getting built but if the town can fund the library once it’s open.

“I commend you on the efforts for what you’re doing because most people wouldn’t take on that line,” Masten said, “But what I’m concerned about is can the town of Smyrna fund the library in terms of the books that are going to be needed, the staff and benefits. That’s what I’m really worried about.”

Funding possibilities

John Phillos, Administrative Librarian for the state, explained to the Council that there are several ways the library could be funded once built. Examples of such funding include having the library managed by the county, state or an independent commission. With the independent commission, the library would receive tax revenues that would be used to operate the library.

By the end of the discussion, the Council voted to support the new library except for Stombaugh who abstained. The Council also agreed to set up a summit that will include the library commission, the library guild and the council. Phillos agreed to facilitate the meeting.

In other news...

• Councilman Anthony DeFeo announced during his committee report that the utility committee attended a Dover utility meeting to listen in on discussions of the city of Dover possibly selling their utilities to Delaware Electric Cooperative.

DeFeo said the committee is going to keep an eye on what Dover is doing to see if such a change is possibly for Smyrna.

“This is going to be a long process but once again, this has great implications especially for a town that has been dependent on the sale of utilities to residents for so long. It needs to get its due consideration.”

• The Council discussed contract negotiations during an executive session at the July 5 meeting. Afterwards, Mayor Pat Stombaugh said that while the town is still negotiating they will most likely go to arbitration. The date for the arbitration meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com