Division of Parks & Recreation is "committed to the full
development of the facility," according to Charles Salkin, its
director. But, he added, "until [the dispute] is resolved, even
our best intentions are not going to get us very far."
apparently is anybody's guess when that resolution is going to
occur so that a second and eventual third phase of park
development can proceed.
of the Fox Point Association, the 'umbrella' civic group which
has been prime mover in an effort to secure a park on the bank
of the Delaware River between Edgemoor and Claymont, and others
with interests in eastern Brandywine Hundred, including two
legislators from the area, vented equally strong objection to
and frustration about that situation at a meeting on Nov. 12.
years have gone by [since the first section of the park was
opened]. How many more years are going to go by before we get it
done?" said John Yaschur III, who convened the meeting.
dispute actually has been running for considerably longer than
that. It predates by a considerable margin the cleanup which
permitted the opening to happen in the spring of 1995.
Rittberg, a Division of Air & Waste Management branch
program manager, later told
Delaforum that "very complicated negotiations" involving the
division and three parties deemed legally responsible for the
pollution on the site are underway looking to achieve a
consensus agreement. The parties are New Castle County and
Wilmington governments and American Premier Underwriters, an
insurance company which represents the corporate successor to
the long-defunct Penn Central Railroad.
Penn Central originally sought to
create land between its Washington-to-New York tracks and the
river to extend the industrial area around the Du Pont Co.'s
Edgemoor plant northward to provide
additional customers for its freight lines. The fill used
to reclaim the land reportedly was slag and other material
the railroad hauled in from steel plants. The project
ended when the railroad went bankrupt. Amtrak, which now
owns the tracks and right-of-way as part of
its Northeast Corridor system, did not get involved.
Rittberg said the talks are
hung up on an objection by the insurance company to pay
for a cleanup of the type required to permit use of the
land for a public park. It argues that the site was not a
park in the past and, therefore, the company should not
have to pay to let it
John Yaschur (left),
of the Fox Point Association, takes notes as Mark Chura,
of the Division of Parks & Recreation, explains features
of a possible plan for development of a second section of
Fox Point State Park
in the future, he said.
He confirmed that the company has
not only balked at paying to clean up a second section of the
designated parkland but also has not reimbursed the state for
any portion of the cost of environmental remediation required
for the existing first section. While that would seem to
indicates negotiations are at an impasse, Rittberg said "there
is not currently any litigation" nor present intention to move
the issue into a court.
involved divisions are both units of the Department of Natural
Resources & Environmental Control. The parks officials said the
divisions are cooperating with each other on the matter.
both Salkin and Mark Chura, the Division of Parks & Recreation
official with responsibility for park development, assured
attenders at the meeting that they are ready to move toward
extending the park northward to the point at the mouth of Stoney
Creek from which it takes its name, they also indicated that
does not presently hold a priority.
other projects -- like Blue Ball -- that are taking pretty much
of our time," Salkin said.
displayed a possible Fox Point Park development plan, which was
produced by a consultant three years ago but has not been
disseminated to the general public and has received only limited
private showings. He explained that it incorporates most of the
features previously discussed in community meetings -- including
a marina, fishing piers, walkways, gardens and a connection
under the train tacks, Interstate 495 and Governor Printz
Boulevard to the Caufiel extension of Bellevue State Park -- but
added a disclaimer. "We are not advocating aggressively moving
forward with the plan at this time."
there is a desire, however, to obtain a community consensus on
features of the plan so that it would be in a near-final stage
when the cleanup dispute is resolved. At this stage, he added,
doing that would have to be outside the formal public hearing
later explained to Delaforum that the steps to be taken are
dispute resolution, plan approval, remediation, park
obvious at the meeting that the state's unfavorable budget
situation does not make this a propitious time to seek backing
for a major new project. "You are not going to find an extra $2
million or $3 million lying around for anything [at] any time in
the very near future," state Representative David Ennis quipped.
for an estimate of how much building to the plan he displayed
would cost, Chura said the consultants pegged that at between $9
million and $11 million in 1999. That has probably risen to the
neighborhood of $12 million to $13 million now, he said. Those
figures do not include cleanup costs.
noted that "it never was intended" that the state bear the full
burden of financing the park. For instance, he sees the marina,
for which he has been a strong advocate, being financed by
private commercial investment.
suggested that the $9.8 million in state capital funds earmarked
to build an aquatic center on Philadelphia Pike across from
Bellevue Corporate Center, be 'redirected' to Fox Point State
Park if a State Budget Office report due in January recommends
abandoning that project.
who also has been a long-time advocate of the swimming facility,
strenuously objected. "It's not a question of an aquatic center
or a park. I believe we should make both happen," he said,
adding that Brandywine Hundred "has not gotten the same share of
[state] investment that other [areas] have." The amounts
provided in that area pale in comparison with what has been
spent, for instance, on development of the Christina River
waterfront in Wilmington, he said.
Senator Harris McDowell said that political reality makes
shifting allocations impossible anyway, but said that piecemeal
development of an expanded park would be a practical approach.
"Instead of talking about Phase Two, why not start with [Phase]
One-point-Two -- maybe a road? It makes it easier to do bits and
pieces, instead of trying to get the whole park plan
accomplished at once," he said.
Koyste, president of the Fox Point Association, said that
building the connector under the railroad and roads might be a
logical first step because that would not require any
environment remediation while using it to accommodate a link in
the Northern Delaware Greenway would open the way to receiving
federal alternate-transportation financing.
appeared to be general agreement at the meeting that the plan
Chura displayed would be favorably received by community
told the meeting that obtaining a consensus and having a
plan available when the cleanup dispute is resolved would move
the project ahead more quickly.
Remediation required in the area designated as the second
section will not have to be as extensive as in the first, he
said. There an impermeable plastic liner was installed under a
new surface. Salkin said a "clean and green" -- clean topsoil
and plantings -- approach would be sufficient in that less
not be wise for the state to move ahead with a cleanup absent an
agreement over who will pay and then seek reimbursement, as was
done for the first phase using 'Superfund' money. Doing that
"just reduces the chances [that] you'll ever get paid," he said.