told the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred
that he has learned that the institute "has broken off
negotiations" with the neighboring First Unitarian Church, which
has been interested in acquiring the property for expansion.
"They are now interested in selling for the 'highest and best
use', which is as a commercial site," he said.
not exactly the situation," David
Burdash, director of the Wilmington Institute library, who was
not at the meeting, later told Delaforum
matters at its meeting on Feb. 7, the civic council was told
that efforts are underway to shift the burden of responding to
home and commercial electronic alarms to the security companies
which sell the systems and that County Council will be asked by
Councilman Richard Abbott to have Wilmington's city government
pay rent for space it is using in the downtown Louis L. Redding
need another commercial site on Concord Pike," Weiner said as he
sought to rally support for countering such use for the
Talleyville site after the library moves out. The regional
library now under construction in Talley-Day Park along Foulk
Road is scheduled to replace the Concord Pike Library.
not specific about a likely purchaser, but said "there is a
tremendous amount of interest in the restaurant community for
that site." He added that a chain establishment would be the
most likely purchaser.
said that, under terms of a lease by which it uses part of the
library property for a playground the church has first right to
buy the entire property at an amount proposed by the institute.
If it does not agree to do so within seven days of being offered
the property, "we would go to market" and the church would be
able to submit a bid "just like any other [would-be purchaser],"
he added that the institute "would prefer to sell to some
organization that would be compatible with the community" and
that it intends "to meet with community leaders to discuss the
said there is no timetable for proceeding because there is not
yet a firm date for the library to vacate the property. He
estimated that about six months before the move would be a
likely time to start the process.
from the fact that a publicly-supported public service
organization now owns the property, there is an unusual element
in the situation in that it came into its present use apparently
as a result of a long-ago community-benefit transaction.
Woodlawn Trustees sold the site to Wilmington Institute in 1956.
Weiner described that as "virtually a gift fort the benefit of
Trustees lawyer John Bloxom told the civic council's meeting
that there had been an exchange of letters at the time
stipulating that use of the property be restrictedto public
benefit. But, he added, there apparently was never any followup
to incorporate that proviso into a deed restriction or other
legally binding contract.
property is zoned for commercial use, Weiner said, but county
government has some leverage in that it finances most of the
Wilmington Institute's operating budget.
New Castle County police chief John
Cunningham told the meeting that legislation will soon be
introduced into the General Assembly by state Representative
Robert Gilligan that would require alarm companies to verify
that a situation requiring police assistance exists before
police are dispatched in response to a home or commercial
There is such a requirement in Salt
Lake City, Utah, and other jurisdictions and it is effective in
reducing the number of false alarms, he said. He added that
establishment of such an arrangement here is his top legislative
As Delaforum previously reported,
false alarms are a major problem for county and other police
forces in Delaware. Cunningham said it requires the equivalent
of 27 officers working full time to respond to alarms. Of more
than 30,000 alarm responses in the past two years, only 10
involved actual crimes, he said.
Joe Gallagher, who represented the
Delaware Alarm Association at the meeting, disputed that figure
and said that companies do use a telephone system to verify
alarms before calling police. "We're doing a lot of things
industry-wide to reduce false alarms," he said.
Cunningham said that requiring
pre-response verification would be more effective than
attempting to impose fines for multiple instances of false
alarms. A two-year education effort, he said, has been only
minimally effective. "Over the last two years, we've reduced the
number of false alarms by 800. At that rate, in 40 years, if no
more alarms [systems] are installed, we'll probably eradicate
the problem," he said.
Gallagher said, however, that a
different kind of problem will emerge "if burglars find out
police are not going to respond."
Abbott told the meeting that he will
introduce a resolution in County Council calling on County
Executive Tom Gordon to negotiate a lease requiring "payment of
market rent" and for utilities and maintenance covering space in
the Redding building formerly occupied by county departments and
now occupied by city departments. Although Wilmington is
officially the 'county seat' of New Castle County, most county
operations are now based in suburban Corporate Commons off Basin
Road at the airport.
building was constructed and was to be occupied as a 55%-45%
city-county joint venture. Since the county offices moved out in
1997, the city departments -- which he called "squatters" --
have occupied about 17,500 square feet of space still maintained
at county expense, Abbott said.