of the approximately 45 residents and businesspeople who turned
out on Mar. 21 to participate in the first public airing of
views about that futurem in preparation for drafting a master
plan, agreed that narrowing it would go a long way toward
enhancing its ability to attract people to patronize a proposed
revitalized business district.
want to get out of our cars in communities like Manayunk and
Annapolis," said New Castle County Councilman Robert
Weiner, who is spearheading the public side of the redevelopment
last summer under the name Claymont Renaissance. Manayunk
is a trendy section of Philadelphia while the Maryland
capital has in recent years parlayed the presence of the
U.S. Naval Academy and its waterfront into making it a
popular tourist destination.
consultant Thomas Comitta told attenders that "no
place I've seen in Claymont is anywhere near as bad as Manayunk
was when we started." The West Chester, Pa.-based
consultant was involved in that project.
said it, Claymont's efforts and similar movements around
the nation are part of a
talk about the future during an intermission at a
trend to redevelop older communities "yearning for a sense
of place." While a history component is part of it, the
main thrust is to recapture past ambiance, he explained.
Lossé, president of the Claymont Community Coalition expressed
the goals in more practical terms. Success in the endeavor, he
said, "will increase property values of our homes and
[provide] a place to eat and shop so we don't have to go out of
coalition is sponsoring the renaissance movement in conjunction
with the Claymont Business Owners Association and the Claymont
Historical Society. The process calls for Comitta, hired with a
$25,000 county grant, to conduct two public 'visioning'
workshops, each of which will be in two sessions, before
producing the draft plan. There will be a repeat of the Mar. 21
session on Mar. 24 and second workshops on Apr. 4 and 7, all in
the Claymont Community Center on Green Street.
of its taking 20 to 40 years to fully implement the eventual
plan. But he said relatively small steps could get it underway
in a matter of a few weeks. Specifically, he listed as immediate
priorities installation of designated crossings to permit
pedestrians to more easily get across Philadelphia Pike and
providing "more green" in the way of trees and other
plantings along its sides.
added several more items to the list, including a publicity
effort to improve the community's 'image', restoration of the
Brookview apartments to a mixed-use residential and commercial
complex, and opening both vistas and access routes to the
seemed to be a general consensus that Philadelphia Pike needs to
be slimmed in view of the fact that through travelers now have
alternative routs in Interstate 95 and 495. Now four travel lane
and two parking lanes wide, it could be made do with two travel
lanes, it was said. While Delaware Department of Transportation
is hardly known for reducing highways, it was pointed out that
neighboring Marcus Hook, Pa., is doing exactly lot.
don't have the resources to go into every community and make it
perfect," said state Senator Dallas Winslow. "We need
to focus on [a few] opportunities and make them work. When
they're working well, you'll find that the neighborhoods will
said that the proposed 'home town' ordinance -- which, as
Delaforum has reported, is now being prepared for introduction
into County Council -- will adapt the county's land-use code to
serve the needs of older communities like Claymont that want to
restore themselves. Specifically, he said, it will remove much
of the administrative tangle through which someone wishing to
redevelop an existing area now has to trod.
added that, although discussions such as the one at the meeting
sound idyllic, "all it takes is some vision, a united
community and a plan." Redevelopment of the Chrstiana River
waterfront in Wilmington provides evidence of what can be
accomplished in relatively quick order, he said.