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Dover committees to consider library reopening, parking solution Tuesday

Emily Lytle
Dover Post
Merchants and residents often point to parking as a major challenge in downtown Dover. The Downtown Dover Partnership will present an updated memorandum of understanding Oct. 13, which will allow the nonprofit to work with Colonial Parking on a new parking plan.

From the future of parking downtown to a proposed opening for the library building, Dover council members will bring some big topics to the table at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

We rounded up a few things you might want to know before tuning in.

To view the meeting online, visit cityofdover.com/meetings and click on the meeting’s agenda or packet. 

Parking downtown

For more than a year, the Downtown Dover Partnership has been focused on creating a more efficient and convenient parking plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee will review and discuss a memorandum of understanding that will allow the partnership to work with Wilmington-based vendor Colonial Parking.

This MOU outlines that the Downtown Dover Partnership and Colonial Parking will work together on the design of the parking program, including the specifics around parking meters and off-street parking lots. Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the DDP, said Colonial Parking will be the managing partner since “they’re the specialists.”

Bradbury emphasized that the agreement will benefit Dover residents and visitors in years to come.

“This is going to be good for everyone,” she said. “That’s why we’re doing this at a slow and steady pace. We want to make sure we’re doing things … carefully, methodically, and we’re thinking of the future.”

In the agreement, the boundaries for on-street parking stretch west from the post office to Queen Street and south from Reed Street to North Street. It also includes possible off-street lots.

The Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee already reviewed the MOU during a June 9 meeting, and council members gave recommendations and asked the DDP to work with the city solicitor to make sure it coincides with Dover’s ordinances. Now, with an updated version in hand, the partnership hopes to receive approval to sign the agreement.

The DDP aims to implement the new parking plan at the end of 2021.

For more, find the complete MOU and related documents in the meeting packet at cityofdover.com/meetings. 

Reopening the library

While the Dover Public Library has allowed patrons to place materials on hold and pick them up curbside, the building has been closed since March.

City Council initially approved an Aug. 4 reopening date, but days before opening, the city decided to further postpone it. At the time, Kay Sass, public affairs and emergency management coordinator for Dover, said staff considered the size of the library and the expected challenge of monitoring the number of people inside, and decided to delay until the safety risks change at the national, state and local level.

Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, has been closed to the public since March, offering curbside pick-up for materials placed on hold. That service will end when the library building reopens Nov. 3.

Assistant City Manager Matt Harline and Library Director Brian Sylvester will now propose a modified opening for Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In this proposal, the library will be closed Sunday and Monday. It will be open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

These hours can be reconsidered at the Nov. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The plan stresses the importance of notifying Sunstates Security, the contracted security team, at least two weeks before opening.

It identifies specific COVID-19 precautions. For example, only one entrance (on the parking lot side) will be open, and the street-side entrance will be an emergency exit only. Patrons will be encouraged to use self check-out to reduce contact with others. The curbside pick-up would end Nov. 2 due to high demands on staff.

Staff will look for feedback and approval from the Parks, Recreation, and Community Enhancement Committee.

More on the table

  • Medical mission: U.S. Army Capt. Jason Brooks will give an update on the military medical mission set to come to Dover in late July 2021. Military personnel will come to areas in Dover to provide no-cost medical services for eight days. It is part of the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program. A related program will bring construction crews to expand athletic fields at Schutte Park.  
  • Parks: The city has been surveying residents about potential improvements to parks, especially Dover Park and Schutte Park.  Staff will give an update on that master plan, which includes things like a new dog park and skate park. City staff will present a separate plan outlining security improvements to Schutte Park. This comes after a Delaware State University student was fatally shot during a large party there Sept. 27.