LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Wesley College acquisition of old Dover library beneficial to area

EDITOR’S NOTE: In this letter to the editor, Dover City Councilman David Anderson addresses comments made in Wednesday’s Sound Off section regarding the sale of the old Dover Public Library to Wesley College for $1.

I think the commenters raise good questions. I will answer them from a city perspective only. The state perspective has a valid perspective that is best answered by the state officials.

The big questions is how will the general public in Dover benefit from this sale and what other options were available. Let’s deal with the second one first. I am limited to what I can say on other options by executive session rules, but I feel comfortable in saying that no other purchase offers were pending. There were some positive discussions from other nonprofits in the public forum, but even after publicly asking for them 10 months ago, I did not see any proposals come to us. Good ideas alone will not carry the day unless backed with action.

Would the city have benefited from a comprehensive social action center? Yes. Did such a coalition ever emerge and submit a proposal? No. We dealt with the proposal in front of us that had money attached. One cannot blame us for taking the best interests of the city taxpayers into account. In the last year, I saw no other formal submissions by anyone.

David Anderson

The benefits to the general public in Dover and even Kent County are these. Instead of shifting state jobs from one building to another, this use will create private sector jobs because Wesley College will have a new physical therapy program. The expansion will bring well-paying jobs to the area. It will also bring the first program of its type to Delmarva. It has hundreds of potential students already. The students will bring further economic stimulus to existing downtown businesses. It will be of benefit to the citizens of Kent County by allowing the access to a type of physical therapy that is rare here.

This improvement in the quality of life also has an economic benefit. Money that would go out of state stays here. Instead of city taxpayers or state taxpayers paying to upkeep and renovate the building, the private sector does. That could be hundreds of thousands of dollars brought into the local economy. Successful downtowns in the modern era often have a health care or education core. Retail is no longer the driving force.

This does both. Having this program will likely encourage the emerging health care sector expansion downtown to accelerate. This will create more well-paying jobs and improve the tax base.

Improving the Dover infrastructure benefits all of Kent County. The money will go for fixing roads, possibly helping with better lighting that may include spotshotter technology (if I have my way) and improving the safety of our roads. It will not go to hire administration or build new offices. I am not sure what Mr. Skuse believes the money will be spent on.

If he looks at the Dover city budget, he would see money well spent. I personally can justify almost every line item to my constituents. That may not have always been the case, but some of us worked hard to make that true over the past six years. There are very few people in senators’ or representatives’ districts that will not benefit from improved infrastructure in Dover because most do one of the following, live, work, shop, obtain medical care, eat, worship, obtain services (such as legal, governmental or banking services) or are entertained in Dover.

The money will go directly to making Dover a more economically viable, safer place to live, work and worship. It will go for infrastructure and nothing else. Some may argue that it should go for the human crisis in our streets, that is valid, but that is not the pool of funds available in that budget year. The transportation fund was in relatively better shape. The money will actually be better spent at the local level because the extra costly bureaucratic hoops are removed. You will have faster response, less bureaucracy and more action.

Overall the deal was consistent with our comprehensive plan, positive for economic development and beneficial to funding the city transportation infrastructure. There is also the added benefit of strengthening a partnership with Wesley being willing to partner with the city in helping area youth. This will also save taxpayers money.

As for legality, it was passed into state law by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. They have the right to do it. I will let you take it up with them whether or not they should have, but for the reasons above, it has a meritorious argument supporting it. From the city perspective, we would be stupid not to take them up on an offer that we may never see again. As one person on this thread pointed out, we were not flooded with other offers even though it was for sale. It would be irresponsible to our city taxpayers not to follow a “very strong recommendation” of the General Assembly.

David Anderson
Dover City Councilman

 

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