The Town of Smyrna made slight progress with building a bigger Smyrna Public Library Monday night when Smyrna Town Council voted to designate a portion of the municipal parking lot off of Main Street for future library building use.

The item to designate the property for the future Smyrna Public Library was a last minute addition to the council agenda at the urging of Town Manager Dave Hugg.

Hugg told council the process for acquiring state libraries construction funds involves attending a hearing before the state's Council on Libraries, which makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State for inclusion in Gov. Jack Markell's capital budget proposal that comes out in January.

"The process started about a month or so ago with the Division of Libraries. They have recommended to the state Council on Libraries that the Smyrna Public Library or regional library be funded for construction beginning in the state fiscal year in 2015 and the state fiscal year in 2016," Hugg said. "The town and the [Smyrna Public Library] Guild are requested before the council on Sept. 11 in essence to defend or support that recommendation from the Division of Libraries."

The state will pay for 50 percent of the cost to build the library.

Hugg said there are two items critical to the Sept. 11 meeting; the first being the town specifying they are building a library and here is our location, and the town working with the guild to raise the local share to build and operate the new building. Therefore, Hugg was asking for council to designate a portion of the municipal parking lot as the future library site in time for the Sept. 11 meeting and they could reaffirm the decision in a more formal motion at the Monday, Sept. 19 meeting.

Councilwoman Valerie White asked if the property is the same property the Smyrna Public Library Guild chose for the project. Hugg said the guild was in negotiations with Joe Renzi of BCP to purchase property on East Street and Commerce Street but the agreement didn't come to fruition.

"As we progressed forward with some of the planning for the whole area including parking and housing, everybody gravitated toward the feeling that the better location for the library building is behind the old school administration building," Hugg said.

Since the municipal parking lot is town property, Hugg said the town will be able to count the value of the property as part of the local contribution. He is unsure of what the value of the property is because it hasn't been appraised but using the property will be to the town's benefit.

More progress

Earlier in the meeting Hugg gave a general update on what the town has done in regards of gaining support for the project. He said Mayor Joanne Masten, Vice Mayor Regina Brown, Guild co-president Jonette Oldham and himself met with New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and Councilman William Powers roughly two weeks ago regarding the regional library. He said the meeting was productive and he felt encouraged after the fact.

"I think that County Executive Gordon saw an opportunity to save the county money by not having to build another library not that far away from Smyrna," Hugg said. "So I'm hopeful that we'll get support there."

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