After seven years of planning, Seaford Library breaks ground

By Lynn R. Parks

After seven years in the planning, work on a new Seaford library is underway. Ground was broken last week for the 18,000 square foot Seaford Library and Cultural Center next to the Ross Plantation on the north edge of town. The facility will replace the current 7,000 square foot library on Porter Street. Construction is expected to be completed next fall. "This is what happens when the community all pulls together," Mayor Ed Butler said at a groundbreaking last Wednesday, attended by about 40 people. "When we all work together, we can accomplish a lot." Construction of the new facility will cost $4.8 million, half of which will be paid by the state. The library board and a campaign steering committee are working to raise the remaining $2.4 million, as well as an additional $1.8 million to pay for furniture and equipment for the new building and for operations. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, steering committee chairwoman Betty Wilbanks credited state Sen. Robert Venables and state Rep. Daniel Short for making sure that funding for construction was included in this year's state bond bill. The Seaford District Library was notified in May that the matching grant that it had been promised would have to be eliminated from the budget due to an income shortfall."If Sen. Venables had not fought for us, we would not be here today," said Kay Wheatley, a member of the campaign steering committee. Short "encourage the Bond Bill committee to support the library and to restore our funding," added steering committee member Carol Sapna. "That was not a little feat."

In turn, Short gave credit to the members of the library campaign steering committee. "The accolades belong to these folks," he said. "They came to Dover and gave us the figures that we needed to plead their case. I'm happy that the state came on board." Honorary chairman of the fundraising campaign is Seaford resident Warren Allen of Allen Foods. He and his brother, the late Charles, have also supported the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club, the CHEER Center in Georgetown, the Seaford Mission and the Nellie G. Allen Curiosity Shop in Seaford, run by the Soroptimist Club and named for the Allens' mother. "You certainly don't need to hear anything from me," Allen said after being introduced at the groundbreaking ceremony. "I'm just happy to be here." Like Short, Allen praised the steering committee. "They have done all the work, and they deserve all the credit," he said. The library will be built on 4.2 acres that it bought from the city in 2003 for $127,000. Architect is Studio Jaed, Wilmington. Contractor is Nason Construction. Structural work on the metal building will be done by Regional Builders, Seaford. The new building will reflect the architecture of the nearby Ross Mansion, as stipulated in the city's agreement to sell the land to the library. The windows will be arched at the top and the exterior of the building will be stucco and brick.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.