"It has shifted from uncertainty to
certainty," Anne Hampton, of the New Castle County Department of
Community Services, told attenders at a groundbreaking ceremony
on May 4 launching the largest and most significant public works
project ever undertaken in Brandywine Hundred.
Hampton was director of county
libraries in the late 1980s when a consultant recommended that
the system be restructured around large facilities in the
northern and southern sections of the county with several
satellites. As plans
developed, the focus shifted to
having just one master library -- at least for the foreseeable
County Councilman Robert Weiner told
the group that his involvement went back even further -- to 1985
when, he said, he and the late Philip Cloutier talked about a
replacement for the outmoded and outgrown one on Concord Pike at
Talleyville when both were active in the Council of Civic
Organizations of Brandywine Hundred. County Executive Thomas
Gordon was president of the council at the time.
The library will be the keystone of
what will be known as the Cloutier Complex in Talley-Day Park.
State Senator Cathy Cloutier, his
widow who succeeded to his state House of Representatives seat
before being elected last year to the Senate, said that "one of
Phil's favorite things to do was to read" and the library was
"one of our cherished dreams."
None of that is to say that the road
to the groundbreaking was exactly a speedway.
"I have wondered many times when,
where and even if," said James Conrad, chairman of the Friends
of Concord Pike Library fund-raising committee and another
Conrad revealed that the committee
has quietly raised "slightly more than $1.5 million" from
foundations and corporations. In addition, the Longwood
Foundation has pledged $500,000 once the public subscription
campaign brings the total to $2.5 million. That will complete
the private-donation portion of financing the $10 million
project. The state and county have already committed the rest.
A cadre of public and
civic leaders (above) await their cue to start spading at
a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new library in
Talley-Day Park. Below is an architect's rendition of what
the building will look like. Architect for the project is
the Hillier Group; Wohlsen Construction Co. is the
contractor on the job.
said a 'door-to-door solicitation' throughout Brandywine Hundred
will begin immediately.
is pointed toward having the library open for business some time
promised that that deadline will be met and said that, when
completed, the 40,000-square-foot facility "will be anything but
just another library."
described combining the library with a park offering both active
and passive activities as an unusual, if not unique,
arrangement. He called it "a recreational center for the mind as
well as the body." County Council President Chris Coons referred
to it as "a repository of culture and learning" for the
fields and other amenities in Talley-Day park are to be expanded
as the building of the library begins. That phase of the work is
scheduled to be completed, or nearly so, by the end of 2001.
Longer-range, there are plans to incorporate the property known
as the Streed Farm, which extends the park to from off Foulk
Road to Wilson Road, into the complex. Weiner said one
possibility in that regard is to make it an historic
interpretation attraction, based on Brandywine Hundred's farming
Alan Levin, president of Happy
Harry's Inc., the discount drugstore chain, said his role as
honorary chairman of the fund-raising committee provides a more
immediate link with the past. The first public county-operated
lending library in Brandywine Hundred, he noted, was in the back
of a pharmacy -- Tigue's Drugs on Concord Pike.