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Dover Public Library to reopen Aug. 4 with extra safety measures

Three things to know from City Council Committee of the Whole meeting

Emily Lytle
Dover Post
The Dover Public Library opened for curbside pick-up of materials in June and will continue that as the building opens to the public Aug. 4.
  • Dover Public Library: Council unanimously approved reopening the building to the public Tuesday, Aug. 4. It will only be open to staff on Mondays.
  • Short-term rentals: The revised ordinance, which regulates rentals like Airbnbs, was referred back to staff on a unanimous vote.
  • Park renaming: New Street Park will become Bishop L.T. Blackshear Park after a unanimous vote.

When the Dover Public Library opens its doors next month, people will see increased cleaning, updated security systems and new policies and staff. 

Assistant City Manager Matt Harline and Interim Library Director Patricia Crosby presented the library’s reopening plan at the Dover Council Committee of the Whole meeting July 14. Council unanimously approved it, and set Aug. 4 as the reopening date with the condition that it can be moved later. Monday, Aug. 3 will be a staff work day. 

This gives staff time to train on the new security equipment and software, Harline said. Cameras now offer a 360-degree view of the outside of the library, and additional cameras and monitors are in the building.

Everyone in the library must wear masks and practice social distancing. Security officers will enforce policies prohibiting sleeping, eating and bringing large bags inside.

Curbside pick-ups of books and other library materials will still be available. The schedule will be Tuesday through Saturday:

  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m., building is open to the public.
  • 1-3 p.m., building is closed to the public. Curbside pick-up is available. Staff will be cleaning and working on programming and projects.
  • 3-6 p.m., building is open to the public.

New hires Brian Sylvester, library director, and Megan Johnson, assistant director, will start Monday, July 20. This comes after former Director Margie Cyr retired at the end of 2019, and Dover hired Crosby as interim director in January. 

For the full plan, see the meeting packet at https://www.cityofdover.com/meetings.

Short-term rentals 

Director of Planning and Inspections Dave Hugg presented the newest version of an ordinance that regulates short-term rentals, defined as any rental lasting fewer than 30 days like an Airbnb. 

After discussion, council voted unanimously to refer it back to staff for more recommendations. 

Since introducing an earlier version at the May 11 council meeting, Hugg and Council President Bill Hare met with a group of about five Airbnb hosts who live in Dover. 

“We were pleased to learn that we were, in many cases, proposing things that they agreed with,” Hugg said. After that conversation, the ordinance no longer limits the total number of days in a calendar year that hosts can rent out a room or home and no longer requires short-term rentals be a specific distance away from each other. 

Hugg clarified that short-term rentals do not have to pay a lodging tax since the state does not include bed and breakfasts in its definition. 

Councilman Tim Slavin asked Hugg to go back to the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and Kent County Tourism before bringing it to the regular council meeting. Councilman Roy Sudler asked that the Human Relations Commission review it. 

Bishop L.T. Blackshear Park

In a show of solidarity, all council members seconded and approved the motion to rename New Street Park to Bishop L.T. Blackshear Park.

Slavin introduced the proposal to the Parks, Recreation and Community Enhancement Committee. While Slavin said he did not know Blackshear well, he knew of the difference he made to the community. “He was both a man of God and a man of his community,” he said.

Blackshear preached as part of the Church of God in Christ for more than 70 years. He served on several boards and committees and was the dean of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance in Kent County until he died in 2008. Councilman David Anderson mentioned that he helped establish summer lunch programs and a downtown community center. 

Slavin said Dover needs to tell the story of Black community leaders. “It’s a significant story, and one we need to research, write and share and celebrate,” he said. 

Sudler said he worked with Blackshear about two decades ago during a community meeting about race relations. “He was a fearless advocate for human and civil rights,” Sudler said. “He was not afraid to speak to the power of truth.”

Councilman Fred Neil agreed. “We have to continue on this vein, basically understanding that all men are created equal for liberty and justice for all, and honoring this man is a step in that direction.”