Offsetting by a considerable amount
the 'loss' of seven acres of Blue Ball open space as a result of
the controversial land swap will be purchase by the state of the
68 acre Laird Stabler property on Adams Dam Road opposite the
main entrance to Brandywine Creek State Park. The sites are
about 3.5 miles apart.
according to Secretary of Transportation Nathan Hayward and
other officials, the state has arranged for easements providing
the remaining links to connect the present terminus of the
Northern Delaware Greenway in Rockwood Park to the Blue Ball
area. That will result in the pedestrian and bicycle path
extending from the Delaware River at Fox Point to the Brandywine
at Alapocas Woods.
Gilder, executive secretary of Delaware Greenways said later: “I
was disappointed to lose open space at Blue Ball, but given the
fact that the state needed to move the stormwater, it is a very
acceptable compromise and we are delighted to have the
replacement open space.”
Less satisfied about Blue Ball
Project developments revealed at a set of DelDOT briefings on
May 18 in anticipation of a workshop-style public hearing on May
20 -- from 5 until 8 p.m. in the cafeteria of Brandywine High
School on Foulk Road -- was New Castle County
Councilman Robert Weiner, who objected to removing one
multi-purpose playing field from the
in order to preserve the ruins of an historic farmhouse.
Reducing the number of fields to
two, he said, would reduce the complex below the minimum of
three fields considered necessary to provide for league play.
"It's a matter of priorities. We do a lot for historic
preservation. We have to ask ourselves if this tradeoff is worth
it," he said.
At separate legislative and media
briefings it was disclosed that the pricetag for transportation
and transportation-related elements of the overall project has
risen to more than $127 million. The initial estimate was
somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million. Hayward said money
to cover the increased amount is fully committed by the General
Assembly and there is "absolutely no uncertainty about the
availability of funds."
and a chart depicting the Blue Ball Project's master
DelDOT official Joseph Wutka said it
has not yet been possible to determine what portion of the
estimated cost will be provided by the federal government under
the various transportation cost-sharing formulas that will come
into play. Ray Chura, of the Division of Parks & Recreation,
said the escalation of cost is not out of line. "You have to
remember that the [initial] estimate is two years old," he said.
DelDOT project engineer Carolann
Wicks said that bids will be taken for the first contract to
construct the planned road network through the project area in
January, 2002, and that roadbuilding will be completed, as
promised, in five years.
She flatly rejected a proposal from
the executive committee of the Council of Civic Organizations of
Brandywine Hundred that the possibility of replacing the key
Concord Pike-Foulk Road intersection with a cloverleaf, rather
than a partial, interchange be reconsidered. That, the committee
maintains, would eliminate the need for a 'local-service' road
through the park's recreation and conservation areas.
"It's unfortunate that he (Daniel
Bockover, president of the civic council) sees a need to bring
that up at this time. We had a thorough [advisory committee]
process and the decision that was made was clearly the choice of
most of [the participants]," she said. "We are not in a position
now to go backwards."
The park roads will be the first
built -- to larger proportions than intended as their final
design to accommodate detoured traffic while Concord Pike and a
spur road linking it to Powder Mill Road are being rebuilt and
built, respectively -- but Hayward guaranteed that the contract
will require them to be reduced to appropriate size when the
need for the detour is over.
He also promised that Powder Mill
Road through the Astra Zeneca complex will remain open to the
Area Transportation Costs
Eastside park improvements
Water quality and stormwater management
Blue Ball Barn complex
Murphy & Bird Husbands Houses
Additional transit services
U.S. 202/Route 141
I-95 ramp widening
As an example of public and private
investment working in tandem, he predicted that the Blue Ball
project will receive national recognition and acclaim.
"When this is all completed, it is going to be a signature
project, not only for the state and region but for the entire
country," he predicted. The package, he added, combines in a
unique way economic development, transportation improvements
accommodating both vehicular and other modes, recreation and
open-space and historic preservation.
of the public hearing, he said, is to keep every one concerned
up to date on progress and to "share the good news" that the
project is both on budget and moving toward "completion in
the venture an unqualified success, he chided the news media for
virtually ignoring a major accomplishment. Only Delaforum
and Radio Station WDEL attended the media briefing.
The May 20 hearing, he said in a
statement issued at the briefing "marks the beginnings of the
actual implementation of this important and innovative project."
The statement went on to say: "The
uniqueness and exciting aspect of this program is that it
involves several major departments within state government and
in the private sector working together in a unified project that
will be both diverse and far-reaching. Once completed, it will
benefit the residents, the environment and the economy of
Delaware in many ways."
childcare issue emerged last December after Delaforum reported
that the state was seeking the land swap because it was much
cheaper and easier from an engineering standpoint to locate the
large pond on the land the state has given Astra Zeneca in the
Blue Ball Triangle part of the site than across Rockland Road at
a place containing large boulders construction debris. As part
of its development incentive package, the state had agreed to
provide the land for and to build the stormwater-management
ponds required by the development. Normally, the onus for doling
that falls upon the developer.
it was ruled then that resolution of the issue was a public
matter, Wutka acknowledged that the process was taken from
public view after an initial contentious open meeting. Van
Gilder said, however, that Delaware Greenways was involved in
working out the agreement that Hayward announced and has kept
other people considered to be most directly affected informed.
It could not be determined to what extent state and county
legislators were kept in the loop.
event, Van Gilder said am alternative proposal to locate the
Astra Zeneca facility on what is now private property adjacent
to the Wilmington-owned Rock Manor golf course, fell through.
said that accommodating the needs of parents in the workforce is
an important consideration for attracting quality employees and
that the state recognized an obligation to help Astra Zeneca
provide that amenity for its people. Chura emphasized that it
was the state which approached the company to propose the land
swap and not vice versa.
transportation secretary also said that an arrangement is in the
process to enable the Ronald McDonald House to expand its
facility on Rockland Road. Officials of that organization, which
provides housing for families of patients at the Alfred I. du
Pont Hospital for Children, had said that the planned spur road
would prevent needed expansion and has asked to be allowed to
build at the Astra Zeneca childcare site.
greenway easements are alongside the DelDOT maintenance yard on
Talley Road adjacent to Interstate 95 and farther east on the
same road at what long ago was the entrance to the Rockwood
property. With regard to the latter, DelDOT intends to resell
the property after granting the easement. An easement is the
right of passage across otherwise private property.
Gilder said the greenway path will be located in a way that will
not encroach on residences in the area. She also said that
DelDOT is holding the sale in abeyance which Delaware Greenways
explores the possibility it can raise the money to buy it and
locate its offices there.
said he objected to relocating the planned park road so it would
skirt, rather than go through, a property at the present
intersection of Foulk and Weldin Roads known to preservationists
as the Weldin Plantation. Located there are the stone ruins of
the foundation of a farmhouse, previously hidden from view by a
growth of trees and not widely known.
that the number of playing fields in the active-recreation east
side of the park had already been cut from seven to three, he
said taking yet another away would be a disservice to the
said the state has not yet acquired all of the property
necessary for construction of the recreation section of the
park, owned by Al-Zar Ltd., the real estate arm of the Nemours
Foundation. There is litigation underway to determine what
effect Al-Zar's having sold development rights there will have
on distribution of proceeds from its sale to the state.
Hayward also said, without getting
into detail, that arrangements are made for the extending the
length of the playing course and adding a practice driving range
at the Rock Manor course.