three historic properties
has selected the first three resident curators in the
long-evolving program to secure occupants for historic buildings
it owns. It received no proposals for the two other properties
included in the first round of offerings. A second round,
involving four properties, is scheduled to begin in March.
program manager with the Department of Special Services, told a
County Council committee that even though the curators have been
selected, "it's going to be some time" before any of the
prospective deals are final and even longer before proposed
plans for the properties are realized.
properties that have now been spoken for, their prospective
curators and proposed uses are:
• The farmhouse in
Jester Park, off Grubb Road in western Brandywine Hundred; Hy-Point
Dairy Farms; a creamery.
• The house known
variously as Ivy House and the Bectel house in Bectel Park along
Naamans Road adjacent to The Timbers; B.T.L. Foundation; a
'multicultural information center'.
• The Gregg house
off Mill Creek Road on the Delcastle Recreation Center golf
course; J.R.&D. Construction; a residence for Michael and Brooke
Mazzetti, the principals in the firm.
Merrill said the
properties will be leased with specific terms to be determined
through negotiations now getting under way. The contracts with
Hy-Point and B.T.L. will be commercial leases of an
as-yet-undetermined length. The agreement with the Mazzettis
will require them to invest at least $150,000 during the next
five years to restore the property. After that they will be
entitled to live there rent-free and without a property tax
obligation for their lifetimes provided that they continue to
maintain the property to acceptable standards.
Weiner, who proposed several years ago that New Castle County
initiate a curator program modeled on one in Montgomery County,
Md., as a way to stem deterioration that he and others felt were
jeopardizing historic structures, said at the committee meeting
on Jan. 4 that he was pleased that the idea "is finally getting
But he complained
about being, in effect, left out of the loop while proposals
were being evaluated and the decisions made. He said he had no
objections to the results, but felt that he, as the councilman
representing the district in which Jester Park is located, "need[s]
to be apprised of the details." Merrill said the Jester
farmhouse was the only property for which there was a competing
bid and selection of Hy-Point's proposal "was a no-brainer."
general manager of administrative services, said that all
proposals submitted in response to published requests for
are evaluated using an objective point system to rate them
and that the process is open to any interested party although,
as a rule, no one from the general public expresses interest. At
a Council committee meeting in November, Jonathan Husband, who
manages the parks system for special services, said that the
successful curator proposals had been identified, but he
declined a Delaforum request to identify them or to provide
details until administrative services had determined their
Cartier, whose district includes Bectel Park, said he was "glad
we found a potential user" for the house, but added that "we
need a public meeting" to explain and to obtain community
response to specific intended uses. Merrill said the prospective
curators have been advised that they will have to comply with
all zoning, building code, historic preservation and other
requirements for county approval to move ahead with their
projects. Moreover, he added, the contracts and leases will be
structured in a way that "makes sure we (county government) are
going to be protected."
Merrill said no
proposals were received for the Talley house in Talley-Day Park
or the Woodstock house in Banning Park.
that it's time to give up on any prospect of preserving the
Talley house. He said it is "an attractive nuisance causing all
sorts of police and other problems." It should be historically
documented and torn down, he said.
According to a
press statement issued by County Executive Paul Clark's office,
the properties to be included in the curator program in March
are the Hermitage, Lovett Farm-Marl Pitt; Rockwood gatehouse and
Rockwood gardener house. The statement gave no further details.
farmhouse -- which was Weiner's initial inspiration for
proposing the program -- will be restored for 'adaptive reuse'
as a creamery. Merrill defined that as a place where ice cream
is sold. Hy-Point also has proposed putting such attractions as
a petting zoo at the site. Neither he nor Weiner would comment
on the likelihood that rezoning from residential to commercial
use would be required for that.
Hy-Point has for
several years leased a meadow in the inactive park as a grazing
area for its herd of dairy cows. Merrill said that agreement has
expired and a renewal is being negotiated. If completed, it will
be a matter separate from the firm's participation in the
curator program, he said.
B.T.L., which is
identified as a nonprofit organization which seeks to promote
understand among various cultures, intends to use the Bectel
House for such things as a library, meeting place and the like.