Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner, who represents the area
and has been a driving force in the Renaissance movement,
disclosed an agreement with DelDOT following a private meeting
of highway officials with civic representatives in his office on
Aug. 9. The agreement is to be announced at a public meeting of
the Claymont Community Coalition on Aug. 16, beginning at 7:30
p.m. in the Claymont Community Center.
than dominating and usurping the community-initiated process
that was already underway in Claymont and in Fox Point, DelDOT
[will] merge its safety project as a component of the
community's well-developed visioning process," Weiner said.
agreement provides "an opportunity for some really good
cooperation between the community and DelDOT," said Gary Laing, municipal liaison in
DelDOT's external affairs department.
previously reported by Delaforum, a heated conflict between the
DelDOT and the Renaissance steering committee broke out at a
by-invitation-only convening on July 25 of what DelDOT expected
to be an advisory committee to work with it on a project
involving safety improvements on Philadelphia Pike between
Bellevue and Naamans Road at the northern end of Claymont. The
Renaissance earlier had come up with a conceptual plan which
called for 'streetscaping' the pike between Perkins Run, which
separates the unincorporated communities of Claymont and Holly
Oak, and Darley Road.
and others objected to what they considered a
'safety-is-our-gospel' approach which they said in other cases
has translated into widening and otherwise upgrading roads to
permit a generally smoother and faster flow of vehicular traffic
with fewer hazards. The plan calls for diverting through traffic
and slowing and 'calming' the vehicles which pass through
being completed for DelDOT on Northeast Boulevard in Wilmington
has been cited as an example of the type of design Claymont does
not want. On the other hand, so-called context-sensitive design
such as was followed in improving Kennett Pike through
Greenville has been held up as an acceptable model.
Scott, who represented U.S. Senator Joseph Biden at the second
meeting confirmed that federal transportation policy endorses
combing so-called multimodal approaches and pedestrian-oriented
features into federally financed highway projects, Weiner said.
Renaissance group will be expanded to include representation
from the Fox Point area and, presumably, Holly Oak, Bellefonte
and other points south of Claymont along the Philadelphia Pike
corridor. Unincorporated Claymont is defined as the northeastern
Brandywine Hundred area defined by the 19703 postal zip code.
said Claymonters at the earlier meeting got the impression that
DelDOT considered "the community's vision for the future [to be]
interesting but not really relevant."
officials, he said, apologized at the second meeting for giving
the impression of a heavy-handed approach.
agreement reportedly reached provides for what amount to
numerous concessions in the highway advisory process which has
become standard on major projects. According to Weiner, it goes
so far as replace designated project manager Randall
Grunden and to submit its selection of Whitman, Requardt &
Associates to be transportation consultant on the project to
community scrutiny "to determine if we felt comfortable having
them perform work for our community."
Laing said Grunden was replaced
"because the scope of the project has changed." His successor
has not yet been determined. The consulting firm "will be
introduced to the community and [it] will have a chance to get
to know them and their work" but the community will not be asked
to approve or reject the firm, Laing said.
Key provision in the agreement
appears to be: "Until and unless the community decides that
there should be a separate DelDOT transportation subcommittee,
functioning under the auspices of the Claymont Renaissance,
DelDOT [will] function as part of the Claymont Renaissance
regular meetings." That translates into DelDOT's agreeing to
take advice not from its own advisory committee but from the
Renaissance steering committee.
Completing the understanding, Weiner
said, was DelDOT's agreeing to rename its project. Claymonters,
who are pushing an effort to rename the road Kings Highway,
objected to including reference to Philadelphia Pike. Also, the
word 'safety' will be dropped, he said, because "it has negative
connotations given DelDOT's past history with 'safety projects'
"I thank DelDOT for
its willingness to admit mistakes and begin anew," he said. "We
look forward to being cheerleaders for DelDOT's efforts once I
and others are convinced that DelDOT is truly committed to [its]