Lewes takes first look at new library site plans

Multiple uses present opportunities, challenges
April 26, 2013

Plans for new Lewes Public Library building and a trail head and transportation hub on a 5.5-acre site drew about 20 officials and observers at an initial presentation.

The proposed plan ties together the existing library site, the new library site, parking, a trail head with public amenities, a transportation hub and other features.

“The opportunities are to integrate the new library with the existing library, the park and the trail feature. We want to preserve the trees as much a possible in Stango Park,” said Matthew Sprong, landscape architect and principal with Landscape Architectural Services LLC.  The company is working with Mark Chura of Chura & Associates to develop the plan.

The men spoke to about 20 citizens including Lewes Mayor and City Council, Lewes Public Library Board members, and a few people with no official affiliations at an April 10 presentation at Lewes City Hall.

Lewes Mayor Jim Ford, speaking at the city’s April 8 meeting, said the project would no longer be referred to as the Lewes Gateway project because it was being confused with Lewes Historic Byway– Gateway to the Nation project.

“We’re calling it the no-name project,” Ford said. He said the Delaware Library Association has required the building’s size to be increased from 20,000-square-feet to 30,000-square-feet. Ford said the association determined a larger building would better accommodate the area’s projected growth through 2025.

Sprong said minimizing vehicle and pedestrian conflict at the site is a priority.

Sprong said the site would have a total of 120 parking spaces. Chura said site parking has a constraint because a portion of the land was purchased with state money earmarked for outdoor recreation.

“That money will be supporting the trailhead component and it be for around 50 parking spaces, but the final number is yet to be determined,” he said.

Sprong said the parking lot could be a permeable surface, which would help with stormwater management.

He said the multiuse area has three proposed entry points. “The area has a natural swale, and we’ve thought about using that as a stormwater management area with a rain garden using native plants to help filter water and reduce sediment and pollution,” Sprong said.

Chura said the Delaware River and Bay Authority, owner of Freeman Highway, which runs parallel to the new library site, is amenable to improving the view of the library site from the highway.

Chura said the Junction & Breakwater trail head entrance might be from Monroe Avenue and Freeman Highway. He said there have been discussions with DRBA about installing a traffic signal at the intersection, but details have not been worked out.

“DelDOT will be building the trail head. They’re providing the money for the design and construction,” Chura said. The plan calls for restrooms, a shelter, and bike racks and bike repair stations. “If there are other things you’d like to see, that’s what we want to hear,” Chura said.

He said for the system to be successful, there should be multiple trail heads along the 35-mile corridor in this area.

Sprong said trees on the site are invasive species that are in poor condition and are also full of ivy and honeysuckle.

“It would probably be good to do some reforestation with predominately native plants that are sustainable,” Sprong said.

He said there are also a few red cedar trees on the site that should be kept.

Chura asked the public to think about the new site but to keep in mind: “The existing library site is not part of this process. That will evolve under its own steam,” he said.

“This is an exciting project, and in a lot of ways it’s unique,” Chura said. The next presentation is 9 to 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 17, at the Lewes Public Library.

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