Reacting to public displeasure over the recommended demolition of a former recreation building at Dover Park, Dover City Council members unanimously agreed to allow the city’s staff to find ways of restoring the structure to public use.
Members of the city’s planning department had previously recommended the building, constructed in 1974, be torn down as it is no longer used by the city’s Parks and Recreation department.
Former City Council member Reuben Salters used time at the panel’s open public forum to ask council to reconsider.
While the city has recreational resources, most are concentrated on its western side at Schutte Park and in the John W. Pitts Recreation Center, Salters said. There is precious little on the east side of U.S. Route 13, and keeping the Dover Park building could help alleviate that problem, he said.
Salters noted recent shootings and other tragedies across the country, and said Dover is beginning to be affected by those problems. But, the former councilman noted, “We’re small enough to do something about it.
“We’re prepared to put on the gloves and partner with police and the council to make sure our young people have something to do.”
Salters also suggested local schools, with their air-conditioned facilities, also be made available during summer months.
“We need to find a way to make the recreational activities amenable to our children so they can develop into law abiding citizens,” Salters concluded. “With your help we can do this.”
During council’s discussion of the matter, President David Bonar noted he has received a number of letters and emails, including one from Councilman David Anderson, now deployed to Afghanistan, urging the building not be torn down.
Council members were told it would cost approximately $200,000 to remove the building; renovation costs to bring it up to standards would cost around $150,000. City Manager Scott Koenig noted the building has been subjected to water damage to its roof and windows and contains asbestos.
Koenig did not have numbers on the cost of constructing a new building, but put an estimated price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bonar took up the suggestion by Councilwoman Beverly C. Williams that grant money might be obtained for renovation costs or Councilman Timothy A. Slavin’s idea to explore a public/private partnership to save the building.
“I think before we move forward on this to demolish the building, we should see what avenues are open to us,” Bonar said.
IN OTHER ACTIONS, council agreed to extend Koenig’s authority to negotiate a price for a 10-acre tract of land in the Garrison Oak Technology Park.
Koenig said he had been working with an international company to bring an $8 million facility to the park, but that the company, which he did not name, only seemed to be interested in the property if it could obtain it for less than the $35,000-per-acre asking price. Keonig, who has authority to bring the price down to $30,000, said the company essentially was asking to be given the property for free.
Page 2 of 2 - In extending Koenig’s bargaining power, council members wanted him to make it clear they wanted to see only local companies be hired for the construction work.
“If we’re going to take it on the chin initially on the price, I want to make sure the jobs on this facility are local Kent County residents,” Bonar said.