Delaware

Worse Than a Lost Book: Delaware Residents Fine Their Own Library $50 a Day

Residents of a housing development have fined the Lewes Public Library $6,000 for installing a book-swap box near a community pond.

Residents of one Delaware community want to turn the page on the local library's construction of a free book-swap box next to their development.

The neighborhood board of directors for the Villages of Five Points in the Delaware Bay town of Lewes are fighting with the public library over a box and two benches built on vacant land.

The board said they issued a $6,000 fine — with an additional fine of $50 a day until the book-swap installation is removed — for what they believe is an unlawfully built satellite location of the downtown library.

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A decade ago, a town developer donated the land to the non-profit Lewes Public Library, telling them they could have it on the condition that they built a library there within ten years. However, they ended up building a library facility at a downtown location instead and placing the box and two benches on the vacant land.

Villages of Five Points board members claimed that their architectural review committee previously denied the library’s request to put up the box. Members of the town's Homeowners Association argued in a letter that Lewes Public Library quickly built a "cheaply made box" and two benches on the vacant land in order to keep it but that the structure isn't an actual library facility.

Residents are worried the library will sell off the rest of the land to a developer for a big profit, making a busy area even busier. The neighborhood wants to keep it as open space.

A message left with the library's executive director was not immediately returned. Two employees who answered the phone Wednesday afternoon declined to comment.

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