Recreation/ Historic Preservation Committee

Meeting Report

Date: December 15, 1999
Location: Bellevue Hall, New Castle County, Delaware

  1. Introduction / Opening Comments

    Mark Chura of DNREC welcomed the attendees and explained that the Recreation/ Historic preservation Committee's purpose is to help define the development of the open space/ recreation/ preservation program for the east and west side of Rt. 202. He explained how the committee has helped to create guidelines for the open space and the active recreation on the site. He noted that revisions to the illustrations have been made as a response to the questions that have been raised, and that the illustrations may be a tool to help define the recreation program. He emphasized they are not the final design options.

    Two issues will be discussed:
    • that the athletic fields on the site be multi-purpose (soccer, field hockey, lacrosse) and what the priorities of these are;
    • the subject of picnic pavilions will be reviewed.
  2. Presentation

    Mark Chura of DNREC introduced the issue of Mass Transit to the site. A light rail system could be implemented that would connect to Maryland and Pennsylvania, through the City of Wilmington, possibly along the Rt. 202 corridor. The issue of whether a corridor should be reserved for this or other mass transit options such as monorail, will be addressed and included in a future design option.

    Bill Roberts noted that the Recreation/ Historic preservation committee would be integrating their designs with the Transportation Committee's options.

    The Recreation and Historic preservation Technical Committee's Planning and Design Principles were reviewed:
    • Provide Conservation Areas with wildlife enhancement;
    • Provide Stormwater Management east and west of Rt. 202;
    • Provide Wetland Mitigation east and west of Rt. 202;
    • Provide a Greenway Crossing of Rt. 202;
    • Restore and re-use the historic Blue-Ball Barn;
    • Design Park Roads that provide park access and accommodate local traffic.
    Roberts noted that aerial s will be available in the near future, and that they would be used to determine the topography, so that the design can move forward, specifically the best locations for the stormwater management options.

    Previously the changes to the Rockland Golf Course included:
    • Adding acreage to the Rockland Golf Course to bring it to championship size, as well as adding a training facility (driving range);
    • Stormwater management practices will still be included to enhance the golf course and provide habitat enhancement to the area.
    A new design option puts the driving range on the park facility and includes an option that expands the course by adding acreage on the west side of Rt. 202. This is a difficult scenario for golfers as it that would require a lot of walking.

    Active Recreation Fields:

    Combined use athletic fields, primarily focusing on soccer, lacrosse and field-hockey will encompass about nine (9) acres of the site, and may only consist of three regulation sized multi-purpose fields. The Children's Park and the Dog Park will add an additional four (4) acres.

    The picnic shelter types that are being considered were reviewed, they will be informal in character, and generally made of wood. Restrooms and other facilities will be available on site.

    Mark Chura noted that the 200 acres of parkland being added to the state system by the Blue Ball Project is not a typical state park. It has different features, such as athletic fields that may be leased to the City and County for active recreation.

    The question of baseball fields was discussed. There seems to be enough facilities in the surrounding areas to accommodate the need, so that the soccer/ multi-use fields are of primary concern. Chura felt that the addition of one more field to the design might be important.

    Mass Transit

    A mass transit corridor was discussed. This concept would require a strip of right of way along the western edge of the parkland on Rt. 202. The line could originate in the city of Wilmington, service duPont and AstraZeneca and other points along the corridor.

    Bob Weiner noted that John Tylee, a representative from Wilmington 2000, had discussed an expanded Wilmington trolley service that would serve AstraZeneca and DuPont. Alex Taft from WILCO believes that this is a feasible project. A trolley proposal is in draft status, and could be included as a potential long-range plan in the Blue Ball Concept Plan.

    It was noted, as well, that AstraZeneca is talking with the State and City about Mass Transit/ Multi-modal options, telecommuting, staggered work hours and ride sharing.

    Next Steps

    A meeting has been scheduled for December 29, 1999 at 4:30 PM at the Bellevue Mansion
  3. Questions / Answers / Comments Q: There is frustration with the designs because the Transportation Committees options would potentially dissect the open space.
    1. The Recreation/ Historic Preservation plans are looking at the smaller land use options, they are looking at the interior space to determine the priorities. The two committees will overlay their respective alternatives prior to January 5, 2000.
    There was a question about the amount of acreage that has been earmarked for the Rock Manor Golf Club. The committee felt that only 15 acres had been put aside to should accommodate the teaching facility and the 2 additional holes, although there seems to be a discrepancy as to whether 30 acres were earmarked, 15 for the teaching facility and 15 for the expansion.

    Chura stated that the committee would carry forward that:
    • the teaching facility will be on the east side of Rt. 202
    • there will be enhancement to the 18 holes at the Rock Manor Golf Club.
    The committee stated that integration of the stormwater management within the golf course is a priority.

    A community member presented a list with a number of concerns regarding the designs, these will be distributed to the committee members for comment, and the added as an agenda list to the next meeting.

    Q: How much of the AstraZeneca budget is earmarked for the park budget ?
    1. The money is earmarked to purchase land, create roads, and establish the Greenway. The county has offered to help build and maintain the soccer fields, the golf course enhancements could be part of a city project, and some of the active recreation facilities may be sponsored by specific organizations that will raise the capital and build the facilities.
    Comment: Gail Van Gilder, Executive Director of Delaware Greenways, recommends:
    • "Restrict the use of lights on all of the parkland because of the close proximity to nearby neighborhoods;"
    • "The cornfields [on the west Blue Ball property] act as a buffer to the heavily wooded critical natural area to the West and provide a haven for wildlife as well as a buffer to the homes in Alapocas;"
    • "Restrict the use of lights on all of the parkland because of the close proximity to nearby neighborhoods;"
    • "Picnic pavilions are not an appropriate usage for this site."
  4. Conclusion/ Adjournment

    The committee concluded its discussions at 6:30 PM. Mark Chura reminded everyone that the next meeting is on December 29, 1999 at 4:30 PM at the Bellevue Mansion.