Bockover, president of the influential umbrella community
association, said that transportation secretary Nathan Hayward
has agreed to attend the council's June 14 meeting to "explain
the [Blue Ball] Project and respond to our concerns." The
meeting in Brandywine High School, which is open to the general
public, will begin at 7 p.m. with the state official scheduled
to be at the top of the agenda.
Meanwhile, Delaforum has obtained data which indicates Delaware
taxpayers could end up spending $149 million or more, directly
and indirectly, as an outgrowth of the state's successful
economic development bid three years ago to arrange for
multinational Astra Zeneca to locate its North American
headquarters in Brandywine Hundred.
almost two and a half times what the state of Illinois and the
city of Chicago combined expect to put up to lure Boeing Co.'s
headquarters to the Windy City. And the Illinois legislature
reportedly is having second thoughts about approving the full
amount of its share of that purse.
Brandywine civic council's executive committee in April enacted
a resolution calling upon DelDOT to reconsider its Blue Ball
highway plans, substituting a conventional cloverleaf
interchange for the partial interchange with which it intends to
replace the Concord Pike-Foulk Road intersection. Doing that
while retaining the present Concord Pike-Augustine Cut-off
intersection would eliminate need for an extensive 'local
traffic' road network paralleling Concord Pike on the west side
and slicing through the proposed Blue Ball Park recreation area
on the east side, the council argues.
Delaforum reported after a 'press briefing' preceding a recent
public informational meeting on the Blue Ball Project, Hayward
and assistant chief engineer Carolann Wicks both said deciding
to go with a partial interchange was a community consensus and
that there was no point in reopening the issue at this stage.
The interchange would serve not only the existing roads but also
a 'spur' coming from Powder Mill Road just west of Astra
told Delaforum that the partial-interchange decision was "based
on certain assumptions" and that changes which have occurred
"make it time to revisit those assumptions." He declined,
however, to be specific on what he and the civic council believe
to have changed.
notice of the coming meeting said it will include "new estimates
from Astra Zeneca on how many employees they're (sic) expecting
between now and 2007." Bockover declined to say whether that
indicated that the council has information indicating a
reduction in the company's employment projection.
Felicia, who previously was company's public spokesman on the
project and is now director of research, told Delaforum that
"nothing has changed in that regard." He said the company is
looking to have between 6,000 and 6,200 people working at the
site when the expansion is completed in 2007, adding that has
been its projection all along. Some previously published reports
said that number would be in addition to the present
3,500-member workforce, but Felicia said that was never what the
said that the civic council "is not in a position to dispute
what may have been said or may not have been said" earlier in
the process. "What we're saying is that it is our belief that
certain assumptions that were made before may have changed and
we're not going to be more specific because that is not the
issue," he said.
issue, he added, is "whether or not we need all those roads they
say they want to build."
with that is state Senator Harris McDowell who, in a separate
context, told Delaforum that DelDOT as long ago as 12 years ago
had advanced plans to do extensive highway construction in the
Blue Ball area. "They wanted to build a beltway, but that idea
was shot down. Then along came Astra Zeneca and they said,
'Here's out chance. We can now get it done.'," he said.
employment situation apparently has changed in one significant
respect. Du Pont Co. had said last year that it intended to add
about 250 more Du Pont Pharmaceuticals Co. workers in the first
phase of a 20-year expansion at its Experimental Station. Du
Pont, however, has just reached an agreement to sell that
subsidiary to Bristol-Myers Squibb. That deal apparently not
only will wipe out any new positions but also cut back on the
force working on drug research at the Experimental Station. When
it announced the sale, Du Pont said in its press statement that
the disproportionate amount of money required for drug research,
compared to near-term profits, was the reason it wanted to shed
also said that construction for the Astra Zeneca expansion is on
schedule with the first buildings still expected to be occupied
by the autumn of 2002. Steel work for one is rising and the
foundation for another is in place. New Castle County planning
director Charles Baker had said at a meeting of the Tyler
McConnell Bridge advisory committee that he thought the
timetable might have slipped somewhat in view of indications of
a sluggish economy.
said no one from Astra Zeneca is on the agenda for participation
in the civic council's meeting, but the company may have a
representative present for the session.
details about employment figures past and present are somewhat
murky, the size of the commitment of public money is even more
so. Apparently no single balance sheet exists -- at least not in
the public domain.
latest Blue Ball Project accounting showed $127.1 million worth
of roads, stormwater management and park development. That was
up from $80 million projected a year ago. Bockover said scaling
back the combination of interchange and supporting roads would
reduce some of the road-building cost. McDowell called the cost
escalation "unacceptable but not unexpected."
figure does not include what will be involved if Delaware
Transit Corp. plans to establish 'park-and-ride' bus service
into Pennsylvania, where the employees the company plans to
place in its expanded Delaware offices and laboratories live,
materialize. That was put at $149,400 for initial capital costs
and first-year subsidy.
spending would be on top of $16.9 million in land acquisition
and an estimated $5 million fiscal impact of an annual state tax
credit matching the federal research tax credit. The state
credit was enacted as part of the Astra Zeneca arrangement
although other 'qualified' companies could take advantage of it.
Castle County has made some land-use concessions as part of the
Astra Zeneca arrangement, but apparently has not committed any
public money to it. Although the company will lease the land
onto which it is expanding from the state for $1 a year, instead
of 'buying' it for that token amount, the company apparently
will have to pay county and Brandywine School District real
estate taxes. State law provides that state property is exempt
from taxes if used for a state purpose and a county source said
that evidently does not describe what is happening in this
state economic development officials and others can correctly
assert that the company will not receive anywhere near the full
$149 million Delaforum calculates is the total state commitment,
it cal also be argued that the Blue Ball Project and the road
building would not have occurred -- or would not have occurred
anywhere near as soon -- had the company not been convinced to
expand at the Zeneca site in Delaware rather than the Astra site
near Wayne, Pa.
Be that as it may, the $61 million
package that convinced Boeing to choose Chicago over both Denver
and Dallas as site for its headquarters, being moved from
Seattle, consists of $41 million in state grants and tax breaks
spread out over 15 years and city tax relief amounting to $20
million over 20 years. Legislative leaders in Springfield are
calling for eliminating from the state package such things as
paying some of the aerospace giant's moving expenses. By way of
perspective, it should be noted that Boeing has promised to
bring only about 500 jobs with it.