September-October 8th District Neighborhood Update
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Dear 8th District residents, I hope you had a good summer. Fall in Wilmington is an amazing time and there is so much going on. Here's an update on the latest neighborhood news. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have an issue. As always, I'm here to help.
Nathan Field Nrfield@wilmingtonde.gov Cell: 302-530-6626
PS. To receive updates on key issues in between newsletters, follow @FieldforDistrict8 on Facebook. To be added to the email list to receive future newsletters, please email Nrfield@wilmingtonde.gov
(1) Saturday 9/8 - Forty Acres Neighborhood Porch Sale
(2) New Social Walking & Running Club
New neighbor Kaleigh Lynch has started a social-oriented running/walking club:
Kaleigh's idea is to meet each Tuesday for a casual run/walk, followed by dinner or a drink at Trolley Square Tap House. Emphasis on the social aspect more than the running part.
(3) Neighborhood Beautification Update
The 18 Trolley Square murals are finished. Here's a new article on the project. Want to learn more about the individual artists and the inspiration for their mural? If so, thanks to Rachel MacKelcan, each box now has a QR code which you can scan to get that information (or read here):
Speaking of murals, the "United Neighbors" group has raised $20,000 to support a high quality mural or artistic design on the I95 bridge over Delaware Avenue:
For 50 years, the first thing that visitors to Wilmington see has been this blank slab of concrete. However, the right design could enhance Wilmington's reputation as a welcoming, interesting and creative place. These kinds of projects are important because cities like Wilmington are desperately struggling to get people to return post-Covid. There is intense competition between cities to attract newcomers and workers. This is the kind of thing our competitors in places like Lancaster, Reading or Philadelphia are doing. See below for details on how to submit a design. Your suggestions are encouraged.
On a similar note, several neighbors are working with DART on a project to help increase bus ridership, by adding color to the DART bus stops along Delaware Avenue. Volunteers are welcomed if interested in helping out. The plan is to do the painting the weekend of 9/24.
Finally, to add to the recreational appeal of Wilmington's iconic Brandywine Park, designed by one of the most famous architects in US history, we were able to add two new benches to the Gilpin Avenue entrance.
My hope is that in the coming months we can get three or more placed in the most scenic spots within the park. This will enhance Brandywine Park as a place to linger and socialize, relax and enjoy the incredibly beauty, not just as a place to pass through.
(4) Soldiers and Sailors Monument Rehabilitation
Built in 1871 to honor Union soldiers from Wilmington killed during the Civil War, the monument requires special historic maintenance from time to time.
As part of this project, I'm working with the Parks Department and the Memorial Day Parade Committee to design a sign that enhances the park's rightful stature.
(5) Mill Road Trail Update
Construction will begin this fall adding an additional perk for living in the city. My hope is that the project is finished by the end of 2022.
(6) Fun Neighborhood Events This Fall
Brandywine Arts Festival. This weekend in Brandywine Park.
Ted Talk on Public Art - Thursday 9/15 By Trolley Square muralist Rachel Van Wylen. Rachel painted "On the Brandywine" next to Gianni's Pizza in Trolley Square and was recently commissioned to do a second mural in front of Warner school.
End of the Season Happy Hour Bash Delaware Art Museum. September 15th 6pm to 9pm. Dining on Delaware & Vendor Market. 3rd weekend of September and October.
Delaware Avenue Neighborhood Association (Trolley Square) Fall Meeting - September 28th at 1306 N. Dupont St. Twilight Hike: October 14th Highlands Halloween Parade: October 30th Night at the Rockford Tower: November 19th Monument Hike: November 12th. I highly recommend this hike where you can learn about the many historic monuments in Brandywine Park.
(6) Construction of The Lofts at Shallcross to Begin
The "by right" project to build 24 2 bed room apartments at 1700 Shallcross Avenue will be moving forward this fall. Demolition of the existing building is scheduled to occur sometime in the next month.
(7) An update on handling Tree issues If you have an ongoing tree issue, the City Arborist that you may have been in contact with now works for a different city. As an interim solution for addressing tree issues, the City is hiring a company to handle those tasks. (8) What's the latest on Gibraltar?
As your City Council representative, I continue to monitor in great detail all Gibraltar-related developments. I will continue to immediately inform you whenever there is new information.
There is nothing new to report since my last newsletter other than that the potential developers are studying options that they may pursue. This new plan will be discussed in much greater detail in coming months. Read about it in this News Journal article.
(9) Proposed Plan to Change Rockford Park Traffic Patterns
The State of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has a proposed plan to change the traffic pattern inside Rockford Park. It also proposes a new all way stop sign at the lower entrance of the park at Red Oak Road and Riverview Avenue. The proposed plan will be presented by its proponents for public input at a community meeting at some point in the near future.
(10) When will the Bancroft Foot bridge reopen?
I'm as frustrated as anyone with the ongoing closure of the bridge since flooding in September. That bridge is - and this isn't an exaggeration - THE REASON many people move to this section of the Highlands.
Unfortunately, the challenges of rebuilding an 1880s era bridge are much greater than we had expected immediately following the flooding last September. For example, all of the original engineering documents for the bridge are long lost. This means that every inch of the bridge and surrounding river banks had to be freshly documented. That process alone took 6+ months, before there could be any consideration of what the options were for getting it open again. Here is a comprehensive fresh update from DNREC on exactly where things stand:
"DNREC has taken steps to expedite this process of replacing the Brandywine Bridge connecting the Highlands with Alapocus including utilizing a bridge engineer already under contract with DelDOT. They report that they are well into the design phase and its team is meeting with GPI monthly to keep the project on track. They are planning on a follow-up workshop this fall to provide an update an answer questions. Below a screen capture of the schedule from the public presentation that was given on February 10, 2022. The schedule breaks the project in to 3 parts: Preconstruction, Procurement, and Construction.
This phase consists not only of the design of the bridge but all the permitting associated with project. This project is being funded using FEMA funds so federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements apply. We expect that the impacts to wetlands as well as rare threatened, and endangered species will be minimal with our design approach, but coordination with state and federal agencies are still required. The NEPA process also requires impacts to cultural resources be considered. The Bancroft Bridge is historic and is a contributing resource to the Bancroft and Sons Historic district. Therefore, this project will have to coordinate with Delaware’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) which can be time consuming. Additional approvals and permits are required including from the Division of Facilities Management, Architectural Accessibility Board, and Sediment and Stormwater Program. These approvals are typical for state projects and the work associated is included in the development of the construction documents but there are review timeframes that are out of our control. Finally there is the actual design and development of the construction drawings and project manual used for construction.
Projects with State funds over $150,000 are required to be competitively bid with a public process. This phase includes the advertising the contract, awarding the project to the lowest responsible bidder, and executing the contract with the vendor. We plan for this phase to last 4 months for our projects but if everything goes smoothly it can be a bit shorter.
The plan for this project is to use a prefabricated bridge. This means a bridge that is fabricated offsite and then transported to the site and place on the abutments. This is the quickest method to construct this bridge. The bridge can be fabricated offsite while the demolition of the existing bridge and the construction of the new abutments occur. We have construction slated to be one year at this point in the project. We are hopeful that a contractor can construct it quicker however, with all of the material delays we are seeing on projects right now we want to provide a realistic completion date.
Since the meeting, GPI continued work on Design Development including Geotech work. This included two borings on each side using track mounted drill rigs. This work was complicated due to mobilization of a crane and the challenge with access to both sides. GPI is working with the developer on the south side to also determine the best path forward for construction as the construction and demo work will require two large cranes and there is minimal clearance to access, set up and set down. After the Geotech work, survey work was done. Multiple site visits are occurring now to determine preliminary structures layout, pier design, abutment design and retaining wall design. The environmental field work associated with the FEMA required NEPA review is complete and the pre-application is being worked on which is required before the 60% submittal. The division worked with GPI to formally submit feedback to SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) who requested further explanation of the method GPI utilized to evaluate the bridge options. SHPO would be required to approve the decision before work can be completed.
DNREC originally intended to meet at the end of September, and report that they are still on track for the overall project, the division is looking to have that meeting later in October to allow for GPI to further develop the plans and answer more questions that will likely be asked."
(11) Take Advantage of the 311 Call Center - An Incredible Resource
On simple municipal problems you may encounter, calling the Public Works Call Center is the fastest and most efficient way to resolve an issue. Here's the number: either #311 or 302-576-3878 Click #8 on the menu to reach the Call center. Describe the problem, with a specific address, and ask for an ID number. 8 times out of 10, this will do the trick within one day.
Information on How to Submit a mural design for I95 bridge:
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