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Brandywine Hundred Update

Jim Parks, editor

May 18, 2016

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The large landmark church in the section of north Wilmington once known as the Ninth Ward will be closed and the 90-year-old parish it served dissolved. Francis Malooly, bishop of the Catholic diocese, who personally announced the closure at a public meeting of Christ Our King parishioners on May 17, said the last Sunday mass is scheduled to be on Sept. 25. Although most of the attenders at the meeting objected to losing their church, he said the decision is irrevocable. “It would be unrealistic to expect 115 families [registered as parishioners] to support a building designed for 2,000.” Joseph Corsini, chief financial officer of the diocese, said the parish has run an annual deficit, averaging $100,000, in 14 of the past 15 years. Largely as a result of having to defer maintenance on three buildings – the church, a rectory and a former convent –  which occupy the city block bounded by 28th, 29th, Madison and Monroe Streets, the parish currently needs to spend at least an estimated $500,000 on capital projects. It will literally “run out of money” by the end of this year, he said.

The parish was established in 1926 and the present building erected in 1968. In most of that interim, the church occupied the basement of the former parochial school south of 28th Street. For the last three years, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the religious order that runs Salesianum School, has attempted, under a contract with the diocese, to ‘turn around’ Christ Our King. With expiration of the agreement on July 1, pastor Joseph Brennan will be reassigned by his order. The diocese will engage other priests to provide liturgical and other spiritual services until the church is closed. The bishop coincidentally published a pastoral letter in the current issue of The Dialog, the diocesan newspaper, outlining three ways now under consideration to ally combinations of parishes to deal with a growing shortage of ordained priests. Malooly said he will consider suggestions in that regard he received at the meeting, but indicated he felt it unlikely that, given the lack of a church building, any would be acceptable to neighboring city parishes. Many, if not a majority of, active Christ Our King parishioners live in suburbs outside the city.

 

Voters agreed to an increase of 28¢ per $100 of assessed property value in the Brandywine School District by an overwhelming 62.4%-to-37.5% margin. If, as expected, the school board imposes the entire hike, the fiscal 2017 tax, due by the end of September, will be $2.4635 per $100, the highest in the state.  After narrowly losing a first try in March, the district waged an aggressive public campaign to obtain a favorable vote this time. How much it cost and sources of that financing have not been disclosed. District officials and the school board threatened massive cuts in personnel and programs had they not been successful. State law would prohibit holding another tax referendum until next spring. Also approved was borrowing $19.3 million to finance capital projects by the sale of long-term bonds.

 
 

PUBLIC EVENTS --- 

¶  Saturday, May 21  8 a.m. until 2 p.m. recycling and donation drop-off sponsored by Brandywine School District, Delaware Solid Waste Authority and other organizations  Mount Pleasant Elementary school, 500 Duncan Road, Brandywine Hundred. Donors should enter the back parking lot via the Brandywine Boulevard entrance north of Bellefonte. Hazardous waste, electronic devices, clean clothing and shoes, and non-perishable food are among the items that will be accepted.

¶  Tuesday, May 24  6:30 p.m.  New Castle County Council meeting Redding Building, 800 French Street, Wilmington Agenda includes approval of county government's fiscal 2017 budgets and property-tax rate.

¶  Wednesday, May 25  between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.; presentations at 4:45 and 5:45 p.m. Delaware Department of Transportation information session about the 20-year plan for State Route 141 between Concord Pike and Kirkwood Highway   Alexis I. du Pont High School, 50 Hillside Road, Greenville

¶  Wednesday, May 25  7 p.m.  Design Review Advisory Committee  of Claymont  Claymont Public Library  400 Lenape Way, Darley Green  Before the official meeting, the committee, at 6 p.m., in open session, receives an informal briefing on matters of community interest  No meeting agenda published.

¶  Thursday,  May 26  6 p.m.  New Castle County Board of Adjustment public hearing, Government Center. 87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons

 Monday, May 30   6 p.m.  Memorial Day parade  marching east on Delaware Avenue from Woodlawn Avenue to Broom Street, Wilmington. Parade to be followed by a memorial service at the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Delaware Avenue and Broom Street. This will be the 149th consecutive annual observance honoring those who gave their lives for their country in all U.S. wars.

  Tuesday, June 7   5 p.m.  New Castle County Historic Review Board business meeting  Government Center,  87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons 

  Tuesday, June 7  7 p.m.  New Castle County Planning Board public hearing  Gilliam Building,  67 Reads Way, Corporate Commons  No agenda published

¶  Thursday,  June 9  6 p.m.  New Castle County Board of Adjustment public hearing, Government Center. 87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons

  Tuesday, June 21  9 a.m.  New Castle County Planning Board business meeting  Government Center,  87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons

  Tuesday, June 21   5 p.m.  New Castle County Historic Review Board business meeting  Government Center,  87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons 

¶  Thursday,  June 23  6 p.m.  New Castle County Board of Adjustment public hearing, Government Center. 87 Reads Way, Corporate Commons

¶  Wednesday, June 29  7 p.m.  Design Review Advisory Committee  of Claymont Claymont Public Library  400 Lenape Way, Darley Green  Before the official meeting, the committee, at 6 p.m., in open session, receives an informal briefing on matters of community interest  No meeting agenda published.

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