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October 27,  2011

Claymont library design unveiled

Claymont will get a new public library described as elegant but not extravagant.

Marcus Henry, general manager of the county Department of Community Services, said the facility is expected to open  in the spring of 2013.

He told a County Council committee that the final cost has not been determined, but that it should come in less than the $9.5 million authorization. That amount, which includes equipping the library, will be

a combination of county and state capital appropriations and donations from the community and other private sources. Construction cost, he added, will be in the range of $6.5 million to $7 million.

The 17,500 square foot library will replace the 7,000 square foot library now located in the Claymont Community Center

It will be in the oval at the northern end of the Village Common in Darley Green. The Common will be a parkway-style extension of Green Street. Until that section of Darley Green is built, the only vehicular access will be via Lenape Way, off Darley Road.

Following the presentation of conceptual plans at the committee meeting on Oct. 25, Council at its plenary session voted unanimously to authorize County Executive Paul Clark to complete arrangements and accept the donation  of 7.6 acres by the Commonwealth Group subsidiary now building Darley Green.

Presenting the plan to the Council committee, Gary Getz, of Morris & Ritchie Associates, a planning, architecture and engineering firm, said the new building will be atop a rise to be constructed in the oval. The main entrance will face the Common, but the building will be visible from Darley Road.

The most significant feature will be a clock tower, also facing the Common. There will be a porch along the eastern wall providing space for patrons to read out-of-doors when the weather is appropriate.

Inside the building will be a large common area flanked by separate sections to house the collection of books and other material, reference and computer terminal areas, and rooms to accommodate children and teenaged patrons.

Getz said material to be used will be "rather common for a public building that will last for a long time." But, he added, "We tried to pick up on elegant, but not go wild on materials."

If has not yet been decided if, or how, the library will be connected to Woods Haven-Kruse Park, located on the opposite side of Darley Road.

Noting that the plan includes four drainage control areas, Councilman Jea Street cautioned that they "will be a tragedy waiting to happen" if they are not protected by a fence or other barrier. He was told that the ponds are designed to be dry most of the time and hold, at most, two feet of water after a heavy rainfall.

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