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August, 2005

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DEADLINE SET: Department of Land Use hearing examiner Reed Macmillan gave Wawa Inc. until Sept. 30 to come up with a timetable for declaring what it is going to do about the off-color brick veneer at its new Claymont store. As expected, he did not express a preference between replacing the red-and-white color scheme with an all-red one or seeking department approval for an amended landscape plan which would permit keeping things as they are. Either way, he wrote in a six-page decision, Wawa must "achieve full compliance" with whatever plan is the final one before it will  receive an permanent certificate of occupancy. (CLICK HERE to read previous Delaforum article.)

    

WATER HAZARD:

Drivers using Airport Road between Basin Road and Commonwealth Boulevard recently have been confronted with two large ponds of water -- even when it doesn't rain. Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Williams said that they are the result of a nearby  "creek blockage" and that DelDOT crews are looking into the situation. The area in the past has been prone to flooding, but the water dried up after the sun came out. There are signs warning of the situation, but the one for southbound traffic is a considerable distance from Basin Road, to which a wary motorist who doesn't want to venture through the high water has to retreat.

    

READY TO RE-OPEN: It will be back to school on time at Forwood Elementary on Aug. 29. The building in Graylyn Crest was the 10th in the Brandywine School District to be renovated as part of the district's modernization program. While students and staff spent the last academic year at the Mount Pleasant

A seldom-used stage is now the music room, but the partition at the right can be opened to make it a stage again. The auditorium has been turned into a combination cafeteria and multi-purpose room. Kindergarten teacher Virginia Rulon prepares her classroom for the first day of school. The rooms are smaller than they used to be to comply with current education standards.

Elementary School building near Bellefonte, Forwood's layout was completely changed. "It worked in 1962, but it doesn't work now," said John Read, projects manager. One new feature, he said, is "appropriate office space" for counselors and other specialists. A new playground will be installed in a few weeks.

As the new year begins, there is a familiar face at the helm. Holly VanSuch, whose appointment as principal was confirmed by the school board on Aug. 22, taught kindergarten and first grade there for nine years. Before  that, she was active with the P.T.A. while her three children attended Forwood. Dropped  from the $8 million renovation project was construction of a new entrance driveway. Read said it would have been too costly to comply with a New Castle County requirement to construct an eight-foot-deep  stormwater retention pond behind the building. He said that part of the project will be "revisited" sometime in the future.

    

With Brandywine Hundred setting the pace, the New Castle County library system has just come off a record fiscal year, Department of Community Services officials said.

That, according to Ann Hampton, demonstrates that, as far as libraries are concerned, "when you build it, they're going to come." During the year ended June 30, the Brandywine Hundred regional library logged just shy of a half million patron visits. That was up 10% from a year earlier, tops in the state and nearly 100,000 more than the downtown Wilmington library, which ranked second. The Brandywine Hundred visitors checked

Illustration courtesy of the Department of Community Services

This map shows where patrons of the Brandywine Hundred Library polled during a recent survey said they came from.

out almost 845,000 books and other  items, 13% more than in fiscal 2004. Claymont had 2% more patron visits, but lent 3% fewer items. The renovated Newark library experienced a 27% growth in patronage.

Diane Brown told the committee reviewing the county's capital spending needs that the master plan for county libraries that was adopted in the early 1990s "has been so successful that the state has decided to use us as a model." A statewide master plan is close to being completed. Among goals to be achieved by 2020 will be to have a square foot of library space per capita with 90% of residents living within 10 miles of a library and 80% within 20 miles of a large regional one, she said. The county expects to construct a second regional facility, south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, but it cannot be ready to open before early in 2010.

Projected capital spending on public libraries in New Castle County through fiscal 2009 is $59.8 million, with county government putting up $28.5 million and the state $25.8 million while $5.1 million is to be raised from private sources.

    

NEW CODE BEING PREPARED: Developers would have  to include a detailed plan for managing stormwater as part of their submission seeking county approval for their projects under terms of an extensive surface water management code being drafted by the Department of Land Use. There also would have to be approved pollution prevention plans for industrial facilities which discharge water into storm sewers. The mostly technical proposal is undergoing line-by-line review by representatives of engineering firms and other interests at a series of meeting prior to its introduction into County Council.

The new approach will emphasize so-called green technology intended to provide for  natural absorption of water into the ground rather than simply control runoff through use of retention ponds and delayed-discharge systems. "Ponds are at the low end of the hierarchy" as several universities study new methods for handling stormwater in flood-prone areas, said George Haggerty, assistant general manager of the department. Council president Paul Clark cautioned, however, reliance on new techniques until "we learn how long green technology will last" and how much it will cost to effectively maintain those systems.

    

MIXED SIGNALS:

Drivers in downtown Wilmington are left in a quandary about what to do or not to do as they approach Eighth and Market Streets (left). The confusion is intentional a few blocks away at 10th and West (right) where they are committed before they're close enough to read the small print and find it's not quite the bargain they expected.

    

UP THE LAZY RIVER ...

... IN THE NOONDAY SUN. As they've done for generations, youngsters find a good way  to deal with dog-days heat is to forsake  air-conditioning and go wading in the Brandywine. The Woodlawn Trustees preserve near Smiths Bridge has been a traditional spot for doing just that. Right now, the stream is lazier than usual as several a dry spell has produced some signs of drought.

Last updated on August 30, 2005

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