New Castle County officials announced a new library for the Middletown area late Monday morning. The $24 million project is slated for completion in 2021.
County Executive Matthew Meyer was joined by members of County Council, state and county library officials, state legislators, municipal leaders, and local residents to announce the site for a new library to serve residents south of the C&D Canal.
The new librarywill be more than twice the size of the New Castle County Appoquinimink Library, currently housed in leased space at 651 North Broad Street, Middletown.
The location will be on a vacant tract on East Main Street near the post office.
The library will be designed to better meet community needs, with gathering and programming spaces that employ technology to promote literacy, learning and collaboration, the county announced.
Meyer noted that for more than two decades, New Castle County has acknowledged the need for new library investments south of the C&D Canal.
“We have listened to the people and are increasing county service south of the C&D canal, in collaboration with the state and town of Middletown government,” Meyer said. “This library, to be located at the community’s preferred site, will be a community gem and a source of literacy and education for generations to come.”
After evaluating severalsites and hearing strong sentiment from current library users that they would like the library to remain in the town of Middletown, where a library has been located since 1901, a portion of the Promenade property at the corner of Route 299 and South Catherine Street was selected.
- Visibility in a prominent location
- Ease of accessibility, including multiple points of access for those walking, cycling, driving or taking mass transit
- Proximity to residential areas, schools, and recreational and play areas
- Site size to afford adequate parking and allow for future expansion
- Land characteristics favorable for development
The county has signed a letter of intent to purchase approximately eight acresfor the project, and approval from County Council will now be sought to complete the purchase.
An architect will be selected through an open bid to begin the process of designing the library. A public meeting will be scheduled for early 2019 to inform that effort by gathering input from residents about interior amenities, programming space and architectural features.
The new Southern New Castle County library will be approximately 25,000 square feet, with enoughland to expand in response to future demand.
Design, construction and furnishings will be funded through a combination of county, state, and private funds. Library construction costs will be split by the state and county governments, which have each already contributed $5 million in capital funding. The entire project budget is estimated at approximately $24 million.
Groundbreaking will occur as early as 2019, with completion targeted for 2021.
Contrary to popular belief, the county has reported growing traffic at its libraries as residents tap online resources and Ebooks as well as traditional books, with crowded parking lots telling the story.
Libraries also serve as a point of access for online services for residents who do not have online access for home computers.
Residents of the fast-growing Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area have been demanding additional services to meet the needs of a growing population.