The Bayard Taylor/Kennett Library wrapped up 2017 with two huge wins.
In November the citizens of New Garden Township voted to support the library by paying a direct tax. Previous library boards had failed to convince New Garden residents that this was a good idea, sponsoring and then losing at least three referenda.
And in December the library board sold what was known as the Waywood property on Way's Lane, which it had purchased more than 15 years ago in hopes of building a new library there. To the board members' consternation, their vision of moving the library "out of town" turned out to be a spectacularly unpopular one. There was a candlelight vigil outside the library. Heated letters to the editor filled the Kennett Paper, each side accusing the other of skullduggery. The ensuing fissures and mistrust took years to heal.
But now a completely new library board, under the direction of veteran fundraiser Tom Swett, has purchased from the borough an "in-town" site on East State Street, just a stone's throw from its current building, and has done a great deal of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy needed to secure political and financial support from the community.
The sale of the 5.3-acre Way's Lane property (to Chatham Financial, which has its headquarters on McFarlan Road, very close to the site) will provide both proof of the board's commitment and some ready cash. The Board originally paid $550,000 for the property; Chatham Financial bought it for $900,000.
Here's the Board's statement on the sale:
"The $900,000 proceeds
from the sale will be used to help build the new Kennett Library at the
corner of State and Willow Streets. The Kennett Library is very
grateful for the generosity of Chatham Financial who paid considerably
above the appraised value of $750,000 in order to help fund the upcoming
capital campaign. The sale of the property is an important step
forward that was needed to make the vision of a new Kennett Library a