Middletown Mayor Kenneth L. Branner Jr. denies that the town government is trying to force out the Boys & Girls Club from the town’s old firehouse on South Broad Street.
Delaware Technical Community College is interested in locating a diesel mechanic training program in the old firehouse now occupied by the club on South Broad Street, Middletown. The town owns the property and currently leases it to the club.
Two parents, who have children attending the club, questioned Branner at the town council meeting on Monday about their concerns that town will have Delaware Technical Community College occupy the space and break the lease with the club.
Branner said, “There’s been no conveyance to them that they are going to be kicked out, that they are going to be terminated, that we were going to do anything around that.”
The town has talked to the club about locating in a different facility that the town might own in partnership with the club, Branner said. Also, the old firehouse is underutilized in space and the town thought it would be better utilized if the club shares the space.
There is a lease between the town and the club until 2020 for use of the old firehouse. Town officials have notified the club that it’s in noncompliance of the lease, but Branner didn’t say what the issue is about except to say it’s not an eviction.
After the meeting, the two concerned parents, Angela Mugavero and John Gill, both of Middletown, said they were still skeptical.
When asked about the club sharing the space with DelTech for a diesel mechanic program, they said they were concerned about people from the DelTech program in the same building with children at the club.
Mugavero said there may be environmental safety problems with a diesel program in the same building as the club.
Concerns about the Boys & Girls Club being forced out of the old fire station came to light when a club manager wrote a letter to parents which says, “It has come to our attention that the mayor wants the old fire station to be sold to the highest bidder.”
The letter also says, “The mayor has expressed that the Appoquinimink Boys & Girls Club does not serve Middletown families and that the Boys & Girls Club has not played a role in the Middletown community.”
Somehow the letter appeared on Facebook. Branner at first blamed the manager for posting it, but later said someone else could have posted it. Brannner said he doesn’t know much about Facebook.
Mugavero said Branner threw the manager “under the bus” but the manager’s letter was retracted by a supervisor at the club.
According to the organization’s website, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware offers affordable before-, after- and out- of-school programs for more than 30,000 young people in grades K-12 at 43 locations across Delaware.