really a big city with no real identity," he told
representatives of area-wide civic groups at a recent meeting.
"We just grew with [suburban] development, but all they did was
build the houses without the villages we were promised."
government is now crafting a new grants program under which
recognized 'umbrella' organizations -- which represent several
civic associations in various unincorporated areas -- will be
able to apply for money to finance specific projects.
said it intended that the program be used to induce the
organizations to "do some creative planning" in
conjunction with county government to produce "more liveable
communities." As presented at the session on Nov. 7, that will
emerge as pretty much a broadly designed open-ended invitation.
the Claymont Renaissance, a movement which is employing a
combination of grass-roots enthusiasm with professional planning
to transform a long-established but until recently a neglected
area, as an example of what he has in mind. "We supported them
from the start and it's beginning to show results. ... There are
a lot of other places that need a renaissance," he said.
A case in
point, he added, is the Pike Creek area, whose development
initially was proposed as a set of village-like communities that
would be a scaled-down version of integrated planned
developments like Reston, Va., and Columbia, Md. "I wish we
could go back to 1965 and get what they said we were going to
get. We can't do that, but you can go back and refit what you
did get," he said.
leaders were cautioned against attempting to achieve too much
too quickly or, on the other hand, waiting until reaching a
consensus before acting. "If you begin to show results, you will
get the community together. Trying to get people to believe it
will happen is your biggest challenge," said Charles Baker,
general manager of the Department of Land Use. "Or you could
spend $200,000 to talk about it and end up with not a single
said producing long-range community plans is one of the
objectives of the grants program, but it can be used to help
achieve more limited goals. It would not be appropriate for park
development, which he described as properly a government
function, but could provide 'seed money' support for such things
as the Council of Civic Organization of Brandywine Hundred's
effort to connect subdivisions with sidewalks along state roads.
executive picked up on a term 'fitted', which Daniel Bockover,
president of the Brandywine Council, said is transportation
jargon for "putting it in where it wasn't [originally] planned."
a 'fitted' planner. That's what we need -- someone who can fit
it in where it was overlooked in the first place," Gordon said.
He went on to explain that was not intended as a facetious
remark and that assigning a full-time planner on the Land Use
staff to work with community organizations to further
grant-financed projects would be a logical step.
timetable for was presented for completing guidelines for the
grants program or putting it into operation. But Gordon said the
county presently has money to support it and indicated it will
be part of the budget he will submit for the coming fiscal year.
county is never going to be in a better position than it is
right now," he said.