October 19, 2001

Civic activists in Claymont are looking askance at projects planned for opposite ends of town and worrying that they will have adverse impacts on revitalization efforts.

In both matters, the Claymont Community Coalition is attempting to bring about revisions which could mitigate the effects of developments which are not by their nature unwelcome, according to George Lossť, its president.

He agreed that there probably is a need to erect a transmission tower in the area to deal with technical problems with the

statewide emergency communications system. But, he said, there are more acceptable locations than in the long-sought county park at the site of the former Woodshaven-Kruse School.

"We're not against having a tower. What we're asking is why does it have to be put in the park we've fought so hard for so long to get," he said. The same purpose could be served by building the tower on vacant land in one of the industrial establishments at the northern end of Claymont.

Similarly, he said, there is no fundamental

This store at Airport and Churchmans Road is similar for the one Wawa plans in Claymont

opposition to having a Wawa convenience store at the site of the former Brosius-Eliason building materials store and lumber yard at the intersection of Philadelphia Pike and Harvey Road. The umbrella civic association and residents it represents would be happier, however, if the company located its gasoline pumps at the rear of the store rather than fronting on the highway whose beautification is a key element in the Claymont Renaissance renewal plan.

In both cases, there is a feeling that powers beyond its control are working to achieve their purposes in a way that would deny the community a voice in the decision. "If they wanted to put these things in Wilmington they wouldn't go about it as if the city [government] did not exist. I don't think anybody is out to 'get Claymont' but because we're not an incorporated town they don't feel they have to let us in on their plans," said one activist.

The tower-in-the-park is a particularly sore spot in that Lossť and others say they might not have heard about it until it was an accomplished fact had not Delaforum reported that its consideration was the reason state officials have delayed completion of the deal whereby the property will be transferred from state to county ownership.

"We're being told now that they investigated 22 sites. But we still can't find out where they were and why none of them was acceptable while the park is," he said.

"At least Wawa came to the community and is willing to discuss it even though, so far, they're set on having the pumps out front," he added.

The Claymont property is properly zoned for the intended use and the company's plans apparently meet the requirements of the county development code.

Also of concern, Lossť said, is the effect that reapportionment of General Assembly districts will have on Claymont. Under present plans, the area stands to lose a state senator, as the result of the combining of two districts, and a representative, as the result of shifting district boundaries. That means there will be half as much suburban street money available as there is now, a likely comparable reduction in the number of area projects receiving state financial support "and two less voices speaking for Claymont," he said.

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