The Town of Smyrna took a step forward at the May 7 council meeting in the process of building a new library with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the future library site.

Council voted in September to designate a portion of the municipal parking lot on South Main Street for future library use; however, the MOU clarifies the land acquisition process.

Mayor Joanne Masten said at the meeting that a considerable amount of time has been put into the MOU and preliminary agreements regarding the land.

“It’s taken a while but we finally made it,” Masten said.

The town currently owns the parking lot on Main Street at Foxwell Avenue, which is behind the building that was most recently the Smyrna School District Central Office and before that was the post office.

Under the MOU, the town agrees to assist the library guild in attempting to acquire land around the parking lot to also be used for library purposes. The work done in this process includes surveys, appraisals and title work all of which the guild will also pay back to the town. The guild will fully reimburse the town for the full amount of costs to acquire adjacent parcels and other costs involved in the process.

Once the library site is set in stone, the town will lease the property to the guild for a term of 99 years for a rental fee of $1 per year. The MOU also states the property shall be used for the construction and later operation of a regional public library. Should this project not be completed in five years, the MOU and lease agreement will be null and void.

Library Guild Co-Presidents Jonette Oldham and Mary Turner were at the May 7 meeting to officially sign the MOU. Council was presented with the MOU at an April meeting but members asked certain changes be made to the MOU before it was signed.

Turner said the group appreciates the efforts and assistance of the town in the process.

“We hope to be an integral part of rebuilding downtown and in five years be able to say ‘We did this,’” Oldham said.

The Library Guild released a press release last week regarding the signing of the MOU. The planned library will be 25,000 square feet and will include a reference room, a children’s room, a computer room with 20-plus computers for public use, and an expanded collection of books and media. The State of Delaware will pay for half the costs of the project.

“This site has everything we have been looking for,” Oldham said in the press release. “It’s close to the location of the current library, it’s centrally located, and it will help with the revitalization of the downtown area.”

Library Guild Treasurer Dana Wattay said now that a site is set, the group’s architects – Becker Morgan – will set up charettes for the local citizens of the Smyrna Library District to make comments and suggestions for the way they want the library to look and fuction.

“And then we’ll open the public phase of our Capital Campaign to raise money to match the funds the State of Delaware will give to help us construct the new building,” Wattay said in the press release.