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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Smyrna Council tables vote on building new library

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  • Smyrna Town Council tabled a vote Monday night regarding whether or not the town should build and operate a new library.
    The discussion comes over a year after Town Council voted to get out of the library business, and to instead support the Smyrna Public Library Guild in building and then finding a way to operate a new facility. Council at the time understood the need for a new library, but felt the town couldn't afford to be financially responsible.
    Town Manager Dave Hugg said that over the past few weeks there have been discussions and a meeting with members from the Library Guild, now known as the Friends of the Duck Creek Library. Hugg said some members of the town thought it should be the town's responsibility to take the lead on the project.
    The discussion went on for quite some time as concerns were raised and kudos were given. Local and county representatives spoke as well as members of the Friends group.
    Tim Sparrow, president of the Friends group, said the resolution by council comes as a huge relief to the group as they have spent countless hours working on the project. The group would be happy to partner with the town on the project.
    Councilman Bob Johnson said several times that if the town takes this project on, it's important to look into the future to determine the possible impact on residents.
    "We want to make sure we don't pass on too much debt to our residents," Johnson said.
    Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna) asked how funds already appropriated by the state and county for the Duck Creek Regional Library would be dealt with since nowhere in the resolution does it mention the Duck Creek Regional Library.
    John Phillos of the Delaware Division of Libraries said he was sure there was a way to make sure the funds will go towards the new library.
    Resident and business owner Howard Johnson asked if other towns in the area would help pay since residents in the region use the library. He also noted his excitement for the project as it'll help enrich downtown Smyrna.
    Resident Martha Wagner asked about the project's impact on the budget and if the town is really committed to the project.
    "I don't want you to say 'Yeah, we support the resolution' but two years down the road you say 'We can't do it,'" Wagner said. "I'd hate to see you go back and forth on it."
    Several people mentioned the need of other towns and areas to assist with the financing. Along with Sen. Bruce Ennis and Kent County Levy Court President Brooks Banta, mayors from Kenton and Cheswold were in attendance. New Castle County Councilman William Powers gave his support, but noted he wasn't the only voting member of New Castle County Council.
    Page 2 of 2 - Councilman Jeff Flairty pointed out that no one in the room wanted a new library more them himself, but was uneasy with the wording in the resolution. People may be talking as if the town wouldn't shoulder the responsibility of the finances alone, but the resolution wasn't worded as so. Moreover, he wanted to hear concrete numbers. The state pays half the cost to build a new library, but a bigger library also means more operational costs per year.
    Ultimately Councilwoman Regina Brown withdrew her original motion to approve the resolution, and asked to postpone to the next meeting so the town can work on the resolution. However, Mayor Pat Stombaugh suggested postponing until the second meeting in May as the new members of council may need to get caught up to speed.
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.

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