Kennett Square planning to sell land, setting stage for construction of state-of-the-art library

FRAN MAYE - DIGITAL FIRST MEDIAThe Weinstein lot in Kennett Square may soon be the site of the new Kennett Library.
FRAN MAYE - DIGITAL FIRST MEDIAThe Weinstein lot in Kennett Square may soon be the site of the new Kennett Library.

KENNETT SQUARE >> Kennett Square officials plan to sell property it owns to the Kennett Library at a below-market price, paving the way for construction of a new state-of-the-art library, which could begin as early as late next year.

The borough plans to sell the Weinstein lot, a 22,000-square-foot parcel on State Street off South Willow Street, to the library for $386,000. The lot was recently appraised at $550,000. Because the borough is selling municipal land to the library, it does not need to go through public auction.

“The borough certainly came through for us,” said Tom Swett, president of the library’s board of directors, “by providing a reasonable price well below the appraised market value and with favorable terms and a timetable to suit our overall project. Our trustees are already reviewing the proposal with counsel and are preparing to formally accept the borough’s offer.”

Earlier this year, the library and the borough explored the possibility of building a joint facility on the Weinstein lot, but experts determined the challenges of combining the two organizations on one parcel outweighed the advantages and recommended the library pursue building on its own.

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“We asked you to be as fair as possible on setting a fair price and fair terms, and you very generously did so and we want to thank you,” said Jeff Yetter, a member of the library’s board. “This makes it easier for us to raise money.”

Geoff Bosley, a member of the borough’s finance committee, said the figure “makes the borough whole,” which was the primary objective.

“We’ve been trying to get a library for 20 years, and we are taking another step toward that,” Bosley said. “It’s exciting.”

Council President Dan Maffei said he was pleased with the tentative agreement.

“It sounds like this is the right way to go,” he said. “ I’m very excited about the way this conversation was put together.”

The new library will cost upwards of $10 million, and a capital campaign project must be organized. The plan calls for construction of a huge auditorium inside the library, and adequate underground parking.

If both sides agree, the borough could sign off on the deal on Sept. 5.

The current library building is very old, not accessible by handicapped persons to all areas, and some classes, such as ESL, must be held off-site due to lack of room. The heating system is very old, it lacks air conditioning, and does not have many of the features that new libraries have. Still, the library is one of the most popular places in town.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.