City considers riverfront revitalization proposal
Many citizens participate in design charrette
Turnout was great at the New Castle School auditorium, as interested citizens attended a design charrette to help shape what a proposal might look like for redeveloping New Castle’s riverfront.
Citizens were provided information on some possible components of a redevelopment plan, such as:
- appropriate infrastructure installed to allow vessels like the Kalmar Nyckel to dock, and which could also allow docking for small (non-car carrying) ferries;
- a limited amount of daytime docking to enable boaters to patronize City shops and restaurants and engage in tourist activities;
- development of a permanent place for the Good Will Fire Co. to access their rescue boat.
It was noted that much of New Castle’s long-history, spanning more than three centuries, includes the importance of the Delaware River to the community with varying levels of utilizing the River and shoreline for commerce and other activities.
It was also reported that this proposal originated as part of the City’s updated Comprehensive Plan from 2009. The Plan was created by the City Planning Commission and recommended by that body to the City Council for adoption, which subsequently occurred. Included in that Plan is the following:
“The City should…conduct a more detailed waterfront plan to identify market needs and strengthen the downtown’s ties to the waterfront. Specific issues to address include:
- Appropriate business mix;
- Residential needs;
- Parking needs and potential supply solutions;
- Enhanced waterfront connections;
- Enhanced recreational opportunities.”
Information was provided at the meeting on a number of items related to the Riverfront concerning City projects completed or in the works, such as:
- The City’s recent purchase of 60 acres of Riverfront property from the Immanuel Episcopal Church – the Broad Dyke Natural Area – which is permanently preserved as open space and available for passive recreation purposes such as hiking and nature watching. This land purchase was funded through multiple grants from a number of partnering entities.
- A recent assessment performed on the condition of the City-owned Banks Building on the wharf, with plans to seek funding sources to rehabilitate the building.
- A current project in the vicinity of the New Castle Sailing Club at the southwest end of Battery Park, to develop a “living shoreline” – that is using shoreline stabilization techniques to create natural habitat to protect the shoreline from erosion, while also providing critical wildlife habitat. This project was funded through a DNREC grant.
- Rehabilitation of the four dikes along New Castle’s shoreline and riverfront: Buttonwood, Broad, Gambacorta and Army Creek. The City lobbied to have the State provide funding and $3 million is included in the current State budget to go towards this work.
At the meeting, proposed sketch plans were displayed and citizens were asked to review these and provide comments and ask questions. Further, a survey was distributed for participants to complete and return. See the sketch plans:
In the survey, eight questions were asked about various components of the riverfront and possible redevelopment. A significant majority of the respondents for all questions favored the proposed ideas.
The City Council has this item on their agenda for their meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8 (meeting at the Town Hall).