Monday, October 19, 2020

Another Fail: East Coast Greenway in Ogletown

Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

According to the East Coast Greenway (ECG) website greenway.org
The East Coast Greenway is a walking and biking route stretching 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida, connecting our nation’s most populated corridor. The East Coast Greenway is designed to transform the 15 states and 450 communities it connects through active and healthy lifestyles, sustainable transportation, community engagement, climate resilience, tourism, and more. The Greenway offers a safe place for bicyclists, walkers, runners, and more — of all ages and abilities — to commute, exercise, and visit new destinations.

For Delaware's portion of the ECG: Enjoy the charming historic city of New Castle before continuing on the New Castle Riverfront Greenway along the Delaware River and heading westward to Newark, starting out on the Penn Farm Trail. The route incorporates a mix of side paths and roads to Newark, a small college town near the Maryland border where travelers will find themselves on the James F. Hall Trail before hitting the road again to the Maryland border.

There are numerous infrastructure and safety issues with the East Coast Greenway (ECG) in Delaware. Among them a section of shared use path (SUP) along Route 4 in Ogletown, where it crosses Augusta Drive to a 1 block section of shared Route 4 frontage street. This crossing is impeded by a raised N-S center median and there is no marked crossing through it. Crossing here is taking your life in your hands, with high speed traffic blindly turning onto Augusta exactly where ECG users attempt to cross.

Very recently
, this intersection was marked out for a traffic signal upgrade (photo left). In contacting DelDOT, it turns out that other features are being replaced as well, including pedestrian refuge islands and corner curb ramps. An existing pedestrian crosswalk across Route 4 to the "Shops at Augusta" (a small strip mall) will also be refreshed, but DelDOT will not be adding a crossing of Augusta to maintain ECG continuity.

Why isn't the ECG part of this upgrade? Even leveling the median for an unmarked at-grade crossing would be of help, as bicyclists are likely to circumvent around nearer to the lanes of Route 4. We wrote to DelDOT to inquire, and learned that none of this would be considered. In their words, "this signal rebuild has a limited scope and would not be able to address the geometric issues regarding the installation of a new crossing on SB Augusta Drive. However, as you requested we can add the R10-15 (turning vehicles yield to pedestrians sign) on the right side of SB Augusta Drive. It will be added at the end of the construction. In addition, we will forward your request for this intersection to DelDOT Project Development or the PAR program for further investigation or consideration in future projects" and "it would have doubled the scope of the project in both time and cost".

Adding a R10-15 on southbound Augusta is hardly solace for what should have been. This was a big pathways opportunity missed that could and should have earned the scope of this signal project. Minus any fix -- even a simple median leveling as suggested -- Augusta will now remain an impediment, as an unmarked and unsafe crossing in the ECG for years to come. It will still require stepping over or biking around a median in an uncontrolled manner (YouTube video). Meanwhile, there are plenty of examples of crosswalks added in similar rehab projects around Delaware one could point to. And, It has been understood for a decade now that Complete Streets improvements should be considered via reconstruction & rehab projects if at all possible -- even if additional funds might be needed. The ECG right of way should be of no exception.

Par for the course.
 Just like the loss of the Orphanage Property as a park and pathways system (the region's last chance), privilege does indeed matter. Ogletown-S. Newark is 'undeserving' of these amenities based largely on socio-economic status. Other regions of higher rank and privilege fair much better in Delaware when it comes to multi-modal and community investment. Think: would it be the same outcome if this involved the Delaware Greenway in North Wilmington?

For the record: As we have seen over and over again, it was just another failure on the part of oversight orgs such as Bike Delaware, WilmapcoDE Greenways, and area Legislators that a critical greenways/pathways improvement opportunity came and went with nary a peep. If they weren't made aware, perhaps DelDOT lacks the mechanism to reach out when a rehab or reconstruction project impacts a SUP pathway system like the ECG? Each of these org's missions emphasizes the need for multi-modal connectivity and networks that facilitate safe bicycling and walking. Bike Delaware in particular has a dismal track record in this regard.


Above: Google Streetview. East Coast Greenway 8' wide SUP is seen coming down from the above left straddling the Route 4 shoulder/bike lane to the side street intersection of Augusta Drive. A narrow sidewalk continues north on Augusta but there lacks any safe crossing of Augusta to continue east bound on the ECG (or vice versa).

Monday, September 14, 2020

Corrupt Sierra Club endorses Meyer (after not endorsing Orphanage Property)

In a stunning show of hypocrisy and ignorance, the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club endorsed Matt Meyer for re-election in 2020 as New Castle County Executive. The hypocrisy of this demonstrably corrupt organization is staggering, but not unexpected. In this case, there are simply no words that can describe the moral repugnance of Matt Meyer, an anti-environmentalist and ally of the building industry, who is now lying to the contrary to boost his re-election bid. For those with a Facebook account, you can read their endorsement HERE. Excerpts:

  • Matt supports the Sierra Club’s top priorities of addressing climate change, expanding access to affordable clean energy for all, and incorporating equity, inclusion and justice in all of our environmental initiatives and programs. Since 2016, he has demonstrated his leadership as New Castle County Executive by supporting local communities in limiting the height of a landfill, increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency and expanding the county’’s current fleet of electric vehicles.
  • Looking forward, Matt supports including environmental and social justice in the 10-year New Castle Co. comprehensive plan and will advocate for policy changes to begin to end systemic racism in Delaware. Additionally, he believes that the county needs to increase its protection of air quality, drinking water supplies, floodplains, wetlands, forests, and other critical natural resources.

For the record, Saving the Orphanage Property (STOP) was a three year grassroots campaign (2015-2018) to save the last significant open space in Ogletown, Delaware, the Our Lady of Grace 180 acre Orphanage Property, for a regional park. Sierra Club would not endorse the effort, as "something they generally do not do", and NCC Executive Matt Meyer quashed it completely. It was the last chance for the community of Ogletown-S. Newark to fulfill and live the vision promised by Gov Ruth Ann Minner's Livable Delaware initiative. Livable Delaware proposed that we must control suburban sprawl and channel development to previously used or vacant land; that every Delawarean have local, ready and convenient access to healthy outdoor activities and parkland. Ogletown-S. Newark does NOT currently have access to parkland within biking and walking distance for most, and now never will thanks to Matt Meyer and his Democratic cohorts in Legislative Hall. The effort was crushed and defeated by government corruption on the part of New Castle County (incl Meyer) in coordination with State elected legislators, all with financial ties to development interests. STOP and Community residents watched hopelessly as he, along with Senator Bryan Townsend, Rep Ed Osienski, and Councilwoman Lisa Diller allowed this one-time chance to slip away forever.

The Meyer Administration
 has shown itself to be corrupt and immoral from the first time he was elected in Nov 2016. When Meyer formed his Transition Teams in January 2017, he put the very Developer who stood to profit from the Orphanage Property, Joseph Setting, in charge of the
 Parks Transition Team -- whose task was prioritizing parkland for New Castle County. He also appointed a land use attorney from the legal firm (Tarbicos) representing the Felician Sisters of N. America, those selling the Orphanage Property. Although STOP lodged a formal complaint pleading a conflict of interest given Setting stood to gain financially from developing the Orphanage Property, the NCC Ethics Commission (whose members are appointed by Meyer himself) dismissed it. They refused to hold Meyer accountable for this gross injustice and clear conflict of interest, even though STOP had presented objective evidence, and Community outrage against this injustice, to support the charge.

Sierra Club also endorsed Lisa Blunt Rochester,
a non-signatory on a petition for Open Space as a plank in the Democratic platform. In past elections, they have also endorsed Bryan Townsend in his position as State Senator, which may eventually lead him to a Governorship or U.S. Congressional seat. As we all know, Townsend -- above all others -- could have stepped up and saved the Orphanage Property 2 full years before the community even knew about it, but chose not to given a campaign war chest largely funded by builder interests. For Sierra Club to now openly endorse Meyer as an environmental steward and praise him for his position to 
"increase its [NCC's) protection of air quality, drinking water supplies, floodplains, wetlands, forests, and other critical natural resources" is repugnant, disgusting, and beyond foul. Not only did he diss the Advocates who worked tirelessly for years to save the Orphanage Property, he didn't care that there were threatened and endangered species who lost their lives as the bulldozers came through killing everything in their wake. He, and Sierra Club didn't care about replacing flora and fauna, open space and woods with the urbanized human footprint. Land in its natural state, containing critical habitat area according to DNREC, that also included the LAST open space suitable for a regional park and trail system for an entire region -- now gone forever. The last significant open space in the Ogletown-S. Newark region went from carbon sequestering and lush biodiversity, to asphalt and thousands more car trips per day on Route 4 and the countless tons of carbon emissions this produces.

There is little to be surprised about with Sierra Club, anymore. They have taken anti-environmental positions that include
non-endorsement of grassroots campaigns like STOP, under the facade that they do. They fund raise from corporate donors that include Fracking interests. They engage in activities that include greenwashing of environmental truths by e.g. promoting "renewables" as the fundamental answer to climate change. Sierra Club, at both the National AND State levels, is not worth a dime of your money.

* * * Boycott Sierra Club * * *
Do not join them, do not donate, do not participate in any of their activities.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Hypocrites: Sierra Club, Democrats host extinction event

No Shame: Hansen preaches "extinction emergency" while Dem cohorts Townsend and Osienski pass fat envelopes with developers.

As we posted before regarding Earth Day events,
 the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club would not support or endorse the effort to Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) as critical habitat area, as a wildlife refuge, as a regional park, and a trails & pathways opportunity for Ogletown-S. Newark that will never come again. We urge all of our readers to see through the facade and the fraudulence of Sierra Club, and to ignore all of their events including this latest fake "Delaware Extinction" on Sept 9.

Corporatist money has no place in non-profit environmental organizations -- whether that be at the national, state or local levels. Yet Sierra Club is loaded with it. This article explains why, after repeated asks for Sierra's endorsement of STOP, their reply was "this isn't something we generally do". Ditto from DE Audubon Society, given they too are a national org and thus accepting of corporate payoffs and kickbacks.

Also see Hansen talking the walk on Delaware On-Line HERE. Democrats, Sierra Club and Corruption: Perfect together.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Privilege Has Its Rewards, Part 4

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com. Read the full series here.

Still think that privilege doesn't affect the decisions of Delaware politicians? Think again. Like Newark proper, Pike Creek already has multiple regional parks and vast swaths of saved green and open spaces. Despite this fact, they continue to get more and more with the fervent support of area legislators AND County Exec Matthew Meyer. In an act of corruption involving both State Legislators, Meyer sold out Ogletown-S. Newark by refusing to purchase the Orphanage Property -- the last park opportunity for the entire region.

From WDEL | A Delaware Superior Court ruling issued August 18, 2020, went in favor of New Castle County in its ongoing efforts to stifle development of a 180 acre parcel in Pike Creek Valley.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer was pleased with the Court's decision against Pike Creek Recreational Services (PCRS) in connection with the former Three Little Bakers golf course.

"There's a deed restriction," said Meyer. "I've thought from day one it's pretty clear, it's got to remain a golf course.
[Full Article . . .]


Friday, July 3, 2020

Former CLNCC President praises Meyer for Environmental Stewardship

From the Facebook page of Jordyn Pusey, former President of the Civic League of New Castle County and Candidate for County Council. We at Ogletown Resilience and the former Save The Orphanage Property (STOP) Campaign were shocked and dismayed to see her enthusiastic endorsement of County Executive Matt Meyer as an 'environmentalist'. The hypocrisy is staggering. There are simply no words that can describe the moral repugnance of Matt Meyer, an anti-environmentalist and ally of the building industry. But Ms. Pusey tries. For those with a Facebook account, you can read her post here, set for public viewing. Excerpts:

"Sustainability is both an immediate and long term goal, and we must support those who are following in [Russell] Petersons footsteps and presenting ambitious environmental policies of their own, as well as promoting equity and inclusion.

Matt Meyer has shown through his GreeNCC agenda that he is fully committed to protecting our environment for future generations. The County is leading by example in implementing best practices and policies that will have an impact on our water and natural environment while enhancing the quality of life for all of us. In my years of involvement in County government, I have never seen such a focus and dedication to the environment. The goals are as follows:
  • Enhance water and air quality;
  • Encourage healthy and eco-friendly lifestyles;
  • Conserve and protect local habitats;
  • Promote smart growth; Reduce harmful emissions by promoting renewables and improving energy efficiency.
Moreso, in today's political climate, it's imperative that we have leaders that exemplify our highest values and are in office for the right reasons; primarily the desire to serve others. We cannot discount the moral and ethical nature in which the Meyer administration has governed. That starts from the top, but the quality and talent of the entire administration shines brightly."

The Meyer Administration has shown itself to be corrupt and immoral from the time he was elected in Nov 2016. When Meyer formed his Transition Teams in January 2017, he put the very Developer who stood to profit from the Orphanage Property, Joseph Setting, in charge of the Parks Transition Team -- whose task was prioritizing parkland for New Castle County. He also appointed a land use attorney from the legal firm (Tarbicos) representing the Felician Sisters of N. America, those selling the Orphanage Property. Although STOP lodged a formal complaint pleading a conflict of interest given Setting stood to gain financially from developing the Orphanage Property, the NCC Ethics Commission (whose members are appointed by Meyer himself) dismissed it. They refused to hold Meyer accountable for this gross injustice and clear conflict of interest, even though STOP had presented objective evidence, and Community outrage against this injustice, to support our charge.

For the record, Saving the Orphanage Property (STOP) was a three year grassroots campaign (2015-2018) to save the last significant open space in Ogletown, Delaware, the Our Lady of Grace 180 acre Orphanage Property, for a regional park. This was the last chance for the community of Ogletown-S. Newark to fulfill and live the vision promised by Gov Ruth Ann Minner's Livable Delaware initiative. Livable Delaware proposed that we must control suburban sprawl and channel development to previously used or vacant land; that every Delawarean have local, ready and convenient access to healthy outdoor activities and parkland. Ogletown-S. Newark does NOT currently have access to parkland within biking and walking distance for most, and now never will thanks to Meyer and his Democratic cohorts in Legislative Hall. The effort was crushed and defeated by government corruption on the part of New Castle County (NCC) and State elected legislators with financial ties to development interests, and this newly elected pro-development County Executive Matt Meyer. STOP and Community residents watched hopelessly as he, along with Senator Bryan Townsend, Rep Ed Osienski, and Councilwoman Lisa Diller allowed this one-time chance to slip away forever.

It is ironic, because the Civic League of NCC , led by Ms. Pusey as President, supported STOP, and even granted a Resolution to back it. For Ms. Pusey to now openly endorse Meyer as an environmental steward and praise him for his efforts to "Encourage healthy and eco-friendly lifestyles, and Conserve and protect local habitats" while he has done anything but, is insulting and a slap in the face. She not only insults the Advocates who worked tirelessly for years to save the Orphanage Property, but obviously doesn't care about the creatures who inhabited it, the innocent wildlife -- many threatened or endangered -- who lost their lives as the bulldozers came through killing everything in their wake, replacing flora and fauna, open space and woods with the urbanized human footprint. Land in its natural state, containing critical habitat area according to DNREC , that also included the last open space suitable for a regional park and trail system, gone forever. The last significant open space in the region went from carbon sequestering and lush biodiversity, to asphalt and thousands more car trips per day on Route 4 and the countless tons of carbon emissions this produces. One can only question Ms. Pusey's motives for this support of  Meyer, given her own record of Community service and sacrifice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Guardian: Millions of Americans lack access to quality parks

The Ogletown-S.Newark region will never have
a regional park, thanks to profiteering.
Cross-posted from The Guardian

By Nina Lakhani | Years of patchy investment in public parks has left 100 million Americans, including 27 million children, without access to decent nearby green spaces during the coronavirus lockdown, a new report reveals.

Local parks have been a godsend to many people during the pandemic as schools, gyms and walking trails have closed to minimize physical contact and curtail the spread of the virus.

Multiple studies have shown that spending time in green spaces reduces stress and improves physical and psychological wellbeing for adults and children.

But the annual parks score index by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) has revealed wide disparities in access. For instance 98% of residents in Washington, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, are within a 10-minute walk to a park, compared to less than 50% of those in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, Mesa, Arizona, and Oklahoma City. [Full Article . . . ]

See also:
Senator Townsend and Democrat Cohorts Say No "Naturehood" for Ogletown
CDC: Mental Health and (lack of) Green Space
The Biggest Legacy of Townsend and his "Democratic" Cohorts?
Privilege Has Its Rewards, Parts 1, 2, 3 ...

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Hypocrisy of Earth Day Celebrations in New Castle County

Nobody was "in it together" when it came to saving the
Orphanage Property on Rt.4 in Ogletown.
Environmental destruction in the form of disappearing green space, critical habitat loss, wetlands destruction, and a dearth of locally accessible parkland and commons is plainly visible throughout New Castle County. Because both State and County Legislatures (majority Democrat) are corrupt and put wealth and profits before people and planet, don't expect anything to change -- even in the worst clutches of climate change, disease and related disasters. Yet, we see articles like this appear every April:

Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day Today, Delaware!

Excerpts from the article, from DNREC:
  • While people celebrating our planet won’t be able to gather together as we have in past years, it has never been more important to renew our commitment to protect the environment and redouble our resolve for sustainable change. 
  • We must maintain our state’s natural spaces and vital natural resources for future generations.
  • But, it’s not too late to pass clean air, water and land on to our children and grandchildren. That is our job at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, but everyone can and should do our part to make that happen. [Full Article . . .]

Instead of celebrating Earth Day as one day of action each year, we urge our readers to join the Delaware Nature Society and volunteer and/or get involved in their programs. According to their mission: Delaware Nature Society’s mission is to connect people with the natural world to improve our environment through education, advocacy and conservation. We envision a healthy and sustainable environment.

And, unlike these other sham organizations, they delivered on this promise with their immediate endorsement -- no questions asked -- of saving the Orphanage Property as a regional park for Ogletown-S Newark.

Just getting started. Clear cutting forest canopy and destroying wildlife habitat for huge housing developments is a common sight in NCC. And contrary to anything sustainable or eco-friendly, most are located far from local services, commerce, and are deliberately disconnected from adjacent communities thus requiring cars for every trip. The land goes from carbon sequestering and a flora-fauna refuge to usurping wildlife and emitting mass amounts of heat trapping emissions. Meanwhile, unless privileged, State and County legislators refuse to champion saving any of it in favor of developer profits, even when the last regional park opportunity is on the line.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

BOYCOTT Sierra Club's Earth Day Live Events

As our readers are all too aware, the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club would not support or endorse the effort to Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) as critical habitat area, as a wildlife refuge, as a regional park, and a trails & pathways opportunity for Ogletown-S. Newark that will never come again. We urge all of our readers to see through the facade and the fraudulence of Sierra Club, and to ignore all of their events including Earth Day. Alternatives can be found, including this one with Delaware Estuary.

The below article is from 2011, but nothing has changed since. Corporatist money has no place in non-profit environmental organizations -- whether that be at the national, state or local levels. This article explains why, after repeated asks for Sierra's endorsement of STOP, their reply was "this isn't something we generally do". Ditto from DE Audubon Society, given they too are a national org and thus accepting of corporate payoffs and kickbacks.

Excerpts:
  • According to the Associated Press, in 2002 Sierra Club head Carl Pope threatened to dissolve the southern Utah chapter for “speaking out against the Bush administration’s push toward war with Iraq.”  The Sierra Club’s Board of Directors had passed a resolution “supporting efforts to strip Iraq of weapons of mass destruction” (i.e., supporting the war) ...
  • This is the first time in Sierra Club’s 116-year history that it has endorsed a product and even Club executive director Carl Pope, who’s been a driving force in the partnership, admitted that the decision by a well-known environmental group to endorse a company known for its bleach, plastics, and chemical products is “controversial.”
  • Until progressive groups successfully address the challenge of funding themselves independent of the elite individuals and institutions that act as enforcers of a corporate agenda, they will not be able to successfully advocate for progressive causes. Any success they might have will mean that their funding dries up, and they will cease to exist.
  • The Sierra Club is a marquee name that has indeed gone for the green:  cash.  Environmental activists should carefully examine the way in which the organization is operating, and whether its agenda is worthy of continued support.

STOP to Delaware's Environmental Organizations: Epic Fail


Do you support environmental conservation in Delaware? Support and donate to the Delaware Nature Society. DNC, along with a dozen other local and State orgs, didn't hesitate and immediately jumped on board to help save the Orphanage Property.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Another lost park opportunity in Ogletown?

Current owners according to NCC's GIS.
Price paid was $204,000.
Though only a fraction of the size of the Orphanage Property, a forested 8 acre tract to the north of Harmony Woods (straddling Red Mill Road and Ruthar Drive) is now in the earliest stages of development planning. Are Senator Jack Walsh, Rep David Bentz and Councilman Tim Sheldon about to spring a major land-use plan on their constituents in the same manner as Legislators Townsend, Osienski and Diller in the 11th hour? Veiled in secrecy and corruption, the first trio sprung the Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve" on Route 4 after it was too late to stop it, forever denying their constituents the chance at a regional park.

Why a church is going to build in this location defies common sense and the health and needs of the greater good. An organization with a mission of righteousness shouldn't bulldoze and pave over land in its natural state when there are countless suitable vacant, abandoned, and/or otherwise unused pre-developed properties around New Castle County. We are facing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity and need to do everything possible to protect what little habitat remains. Acquiring it for parkland (or even just a nature preserve) is one of the most popular ways in which to do so.

Built from the '70s through late '80s, Harmony Woods is one of the largest housing developments in Greater Newark. This 8 acre parcel of land represents a magnificent opportunity for a park, albeit a fraction of the size of what could have been "Ogletown Park" on Route 4 closer to S. Newark. At least one of these Legislators should investigate feasibility (what it would take) to bring even the slightest possibility of local park access, pathways and place-making to a region of their districts that has been grossly disenfranchised in this manner. Looking down from orbit, just like the Orphanage Property, it appears the last opportunity before all bordering lands are developed.

8 acres in this location would never be a regional park, and could never replace the Orphanage Property given the shear size comparison. However, this parcel is big enough for a community park and destination, which again, Harmony Woods (at least) does hot have. Most of its forested canopy could be maintained in this scenario.

Will the above 3 Legislators -- Walsh, Bentz, and/or Sheldon, act? We're not holding our breath. They, like Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski, are similarly weighted with developer interests, as evidenced from their campaign contributions. Mr Walsh himself is heavily involved in Union and Economic Development interests, and would probably put development projects like this first before saving the environment. Yet, once an opportunity like this vanishes, never will it return. You can view Mr Walsh's bio HERE.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Destruction of Habitat, Loss of Biodiversity, and COVID-19

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com. We wish everyone well in these trying times.
Sen Townsend and son: Goodbye to the Orphanage Property, and the hopes
of Ogletown-S. Newark for a regional park and wildlife conservation..
It is one thing that Govt leaders like Delaware's Senator Bryan Townsend, Rep Ed Osienski, and their minions on New Castle County Council e.g. Lisa Diller criminally deny place-making and local park access to entire regions of the State. It's another thing that they routinely ignore citizens socio-economic needs based on class -- across vast swaths of their constituencies -- while lavishing favor on others of higher status. But their biggest "legacy" of all may just be the current state of affairs with COVID-19: Our grossly degraded ecology, climate change, the mass die-off of species, and the catastrophic loss of natural lands and biodiversity that is surely connected to the Coronavirus pandemic situation we are now facing. This is from Ensia, on March 17. Excerpts:

Only a decade or two ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments teeming with exotic wildlife threatened humans by harboring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans like Ebola, HIV and dengue.

But a number of researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases like COVID-19, the viral disease that emerged in China in December 2019, to arise — with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, planetary health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections among the well-being of humans, other living things and entire ecosystems. [Read the full article . . . ]

One has to wonder what Mr Townsend -- a new father of one with more on the way -- will tell his own children, and future generations, when the record points to his deliberate participation in our socio and environmental demise. How will he explain his prioritization of developer interests over naturehood; of failing to protect local and regional open space and land conservation efforts, and opening up Delaware's coastal zone to heavy industrial development? He will need to explain somehow that this "economic development" and short-term profits were more important than their health, safety and a livable future.

Hence, the mission of this page: Clearly, Senator Bryan Townsend's actions are NOT in the best interests of future generations, and we will hold him (and his Democrat party colleagues) responsible at the local, regional and State level.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Land Preservation Task Force" an insult to Ogletown-S. Newark

Attending the March 2nd meeting of the Harmony Woods Civic Association, New Castle County's Dist 9 Councilman Tim Sheldon spoke about the importance of the the newly formed "Land Preservation Task Force". Among their proposals was a 1-3% tax increase to fund open space acquisition, to be authorized via on-line voting. We were quick to point out the loss of the Orphanage Property, which represented the last significant open space in vast Ogletown-S. Newark region. This was the only opportunity for a regional park that would have included an interconnecting trail system. That opportunity was thrown away due to rampant corruption on the part of County and State Govt.

For the record, Saving the Orphanage Property (STOP) was a three year grassroots campaign (2015-2018) to save the last significant open space in Ogletown, Delaware, for a regional park. A host of other reasons -- some critical -- also existed for why the land should have been preserved, and was not suitable for development. However, the effort was crushed and defeated by government corruption on the part of New Castle County (NCC) and State elected legislators with financial ties to development interests, and a newly elected pro-development County Executive.

Therefore, we cannot in good conscience support Mr Sheldon's open space "preservation taskforce" sham. Due to the blatant dissing of an already heavily disenfranchised region of NCC in Ogletown-S. Newark, in the interest of equity and fairness, what choice is there? Our taxes will be paying to fund other region's open space desires after ours was given to profiteering and corruption. This is grossly unfair and only serves to enable selective choice of open space needs based on privilege and status.

You many contact councilman Timothy Sheldon via email here: tpsheldon@nccde.org. Note that Mr Sheldon voted YES to developing the Orphanage Property (Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve") instead of bringing Ogletown a regional park.

No more chances left. Putting their campaign donors and builder profits first, Legislators Townsend, Osienski, and Diller threw away the last open space and regional park opportunity for Ogletown-S. Newark. Watch video HERE.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The folly of Bryan Townsend, in one letter

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com

As Senator Townsend (along with cohorts Rep Osienski and NCC's Diller) goes around telling everyone that the loss of the Orphanage Property wasn't his fault, and that he exhausted everything in his effort to save it, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is very important to keep this at the forefront, given Mr Townsend's gross talent as a politician, liar and con-artist.

Nothing can change the fact that Senator Townsend knew years in advance that the Felician Sisters were looking to build, yet he NEVER brought this to the public and Advocate's attention. Each time someone would confront him with this fact, his go-to answers were "we didn't think it would happen" or "we didn't think the Sisters could get a plan approved" or "we did mention it at local civic meetings" (meetings that virtually nobody attends).

FACT: Mr Townsend knew of the threat of development in 2013, well before the plans were drawn up and the regional park alternative was FAR more achievable. He should have immediately recognized the invaluable opportunity before him, to do something great for his district and his constituents. He should have realized Ogletown-S. Newark (i.e. Route 4 corridor) was in need of its own regional park, instead of having to drive 20 min to Glasgow and Pike Creek. HE didn't do that, he didn't see the need for this invaluable open space as a public asset, because that would fly in the face of his donor interests in the building industry.

FACT: Townsend-Osienski DID write this formal letter (image right) to their constituents in Aug of 2018, regarding a "trail opportunity" in what remains of the Orphanage Property woods. No letter was sent in  2013 regarding a potential Regional Park opportunity, that one or both legislators could have easily championed. As it turned out, the "trail "opportunity" ended in failure due to private property, maintenance and liability issues -- and probably future development potential, i.e. Chestnut Hill "Preserve" Phase 2.

Despite such widespread and enthusiastic support for a regional park, no amount of action or visibility on the part of residents and citizens counted toward democracy in Townsend's District 11. And in light of such blatant corruption, neither did the rule of law. It became painfully clear that, from the very beginning, the fate of the Orphanage Property was already sealed. By the time Advocates and the broader public were notified in July 2015, it had advanced to a stage that nobody could stop it.

After 2 years secretly knowing that development plans were underway, Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski grant newly elected New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer full discretion and negotiating rights over saving the Orphanage Property as a regional park. By this time, plans for the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" were already in an advanced state and were destined to happen regardless of legislator input.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Entropy made visible: Bryan Townsend's Senate District 11 on foot

Hypocrite: Townsend on Facebook
Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes and Bryan-Townsend.com

Paradoxically, Senator Townsend (District 11, New Castle County) remains hugely popular among his Ogletown-S. Newark constituents despite his colossal failure as a legislator and representative of their best interests. But then again, Delawareans in general have a penchant for taking it up the backside, all the while begging for more. They stay loyal to his Facebook page, where Mr Townsend cross-posts environmental issues with a sense of outrage, and what appears genuine anger and remorse toward our planet's death spiral under the Trump administration. There is simply no end to the lies and con-artistry this man is capable of, given his dismal record as a State Senator right here in Delaware. The hypocrisy is staggering, as charity is supposed to "begin" at home.

Not only is Mr Townsend one of the worst environmental enemies (as chronicled on this page -- see "Top Articles" series in the right column) to serve office in any State, he also has zero interest in quality of life and green transportation that includes walking and biking. His district IS entropy made visible, with infrastructure at least as bad or worse than most 3rd world countries.

And where is Bike Delaware on this issue? Nowhere, that's where. Here are a few local examples, found just in Ogletown, that make critical connections between communities, circumventing arterials roads:

"Pathway" connecting Cherokee Woods with Our Redeemer Church/Chestnut Hill Estates.
"Bike Path" along Route 4, in front of the Christina Early Education Center. Zero maintenance or repair.
"Curb ramp" and pathway between Ogletown Rd and Route 4 at D&H Jamaican. Not only is this not ADA-compliant, it has never been maintained in any way, much less rehabbed or resurfaced.
Pathway connecting Todd Estates/Newark Oaks/Brookside to Jennie Smith ES and George Kirk MS. This facility is very heavily relied upon by school children walking and biking to school, easily the healthiest thing a child can and should engage in. Most who use it walk or bike through the adjacent driveway instead, before reconnecting near the trip hazard (below) further up.
Also along the pathway connection above; a major tripping hazard, the result of settling concrete slabs and zero maintenance or repair.
Death trap: Posted speed limit of 50
mph 
(55-60 prevailing) in front of 
Ogletown area schools.
This is what you can expect under failed leadership, in this case Senator Townsend and cohort Rep Ed Osienski, along with their NCC Democratic colleague Lisa Diller. The trio -- most influential among them Townsend -- also could have gifted their districts a regional park on Route 4 on the former Orphanage Property. Instead, they lied and chose to hide that possibility from Advocates and the broader public for a full 2 years or until such time it was committed to development and couldn't be stopped. All the while, Route 4 is slowly but surely evolving into a Kirkwood Hwy or Route 13, with endless lane expansion projects, installations of overhead lights, clear cutting of trees, and other assaults on community life and place-making.

Despite being one of the most, if not the most disenfranchised regions of the State, these legislators go on enjoying broad support among their constituents, easily defeating their challengers in each election cycle.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Allentown pursues regional park for environmental and economic benefits

Cross-posted from Lehigh Valley Regional News  Because of corruption in DE govt, this hope has been forever dashed in the entire Ogletown S. Newark region, but at least Allentown PA gets it where the value of a park and trail system is concerned. 

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – An obscure tract of Allentown land may help boost the city's environment and economy.

Plans were unveiled Thursday at Allentown City Hall for Auburn Cross Trails Park, covering about 32 acres of land bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Basin Street and Auburn Street. About two-thirds of the of land is owned by the Allentown Economic Development Corp. and would be used for manufacturing.

The proposal includes trails, open meadows, picnic areas, a dog park and places to fish. The big picture is to move toward connecting to existing trails in the city and the region. The site used to house Allentown's municipal incinerator, which closed decades ago.

"The plan can be broken up into manageable pieces," Chris Stanford of engineering firm Michael Baker International said.

That may be necessary, because the $1 million-plus needed for the park is not available yet, according to Karen El-Chaar, director of Allentown's parks and recreation department.

"This will probably be state-funded," she said, with the city contributing a small amount. [Full Article]

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bike-Ped Dead: 6 Solid Reasons For Delaware's Dismal Ranking

Even with a flashing beacon, motorists still have
the right of way to continue, at speed, through
DelDOT's crosswalks without penalty -- as long
as peds (and bikes) are side-lined and waiting.
This is a completely backwards approach.
This article originally appeared in 1st State Bikes

Delaware is once again poised for a dismally high position -- if not taking the nation's top spot for walking fatalities again this year. Ditto for bicycling - in a runaway - but we will cover that in a future article. Here, in no particular order, we will examine what we believe are the top 6 reasons for why this is so and will likely never change:

1) Motor vehicle priority and right of way through crosswalks and intersections. Delaware gives motor vehicles priority and right of way through mid-block crosswalks and radial turns, and puts the onus on pedestrians to create his or her own opportunity to cross. This doesn't change even with DelDOT's flashing beacons installed at a few of them; peds are still sidelined, waiting to make the first move -- hoping cars will stop. In no way is this progressive or conducive to pedestrian safety.

The way it should be. With a little enforcement. Mass
sees far greater compliance using this simple sign than
DE will ever see using stick figures and beacons.
2) An antiquated traffic code for pedestrians. There are numerous discrepancies and problems that a complete overhaul of Delaware's vehicle code is LONG overdue. The language is so antiquated that it even includes a holiday as impacting where and how to enforce it, including "soliciting contributions shall not apply on the Saturday immediately prior to Father's Day". Advocates volunteered many hours of time and did an overhaul, presenting it in legislative bill form to Delaware's Pedestrian Council. Ultimately, the State's defacto walking advocacy org, Bike Delaware, infiltrated the Ped Council and quashed the effort.

Crosswalks through highway-speed kill zones.
3) Wide lanes, slip lanes, and unregulated radial turns that induce high speed and discourage defensive driving, even in known pedestrian hot spots. Instead of traditional crossroads, most of Delaware's suburban thoroughfares consist of radial turns to keep motor vehicles moving as quickly as possible through intersections. This seriously compromises pedestrian safety, since the beginning and end of the crosswalk is unregulated and never signalized. As they are induced to maintain speed, motorists seldom yield, and usually just barrel on through even when pedestrians are present. This is not at all conducive to pedestrian safety, and not only adds to the danger, it discourage walking in the first place.

Non-drivers will often create "goat paths", as
the State and its Counties will not seek out and
try and include these important connections
with area rehab & reconstruction projects.
4) Very few pathway facilities that make safe connections between existing communities, commerce, and civil services. Lack of connectivity in development codes, and an ignorance of livability concerns throughout most of Delaware's planning history have all but sealed the fate of its suburban dwellers. Bike Delaware at one time made mention that connectivity is their mission, which includes piecing together what few streets do connect to try and create low stress networks. But for the vast majority of disconnected and unincorporated suburbs, they have yet to demonstrate how interconnecting pathways can be added without violating private property rights and/or invoking imminent domain -- never mind the exorbitant costs involved. In the end, those walking and biking are inevitably forced out onto arterial roads and their high speed intersections to reach most destinations.

5) An apparently fraudulent "Advocacy" organization in Delaware that will not support reforms, including a bill proposal (see #2 above) to update the traffic code in the interest of safety. "Bike Delaware" lobbies for reforms with priority on new housing construction only, helping developers achieve density waivers. With the occasional bone thrown to seasoned cyclists, they can focus on builder's profits with advocacy for "TOD" (Transit Oriented Development) and have this slip by virtually unnoticed. They ignore even the simplest ideas for retrofitting the built environment and have no record of endorsing open space conservation and park opportunities. Virtually all of their efforts are focused on the more privileged areas of the State including Old New Castle, the home of their Exec Director himself. For the unincorporated and disenfranchised folks who lack open space, bike paths and/or regional park access from home, they have to settle for what's on offer. This includes the high speed arterial roads and highways discussed here, for pleasure activities such as biking, walking and jogging.

6) Very little police presence and law enforcement to begin with. It is no secret that the police in Delaware -- in particular State and County -- are either stretched way too thin or even working without a contract. In what's become a culture of "anything goes", progressive reforms that include, e.g. stronger crosswalk signage with actual fines posted will remain out of the question. Unless a rare sting, the police are never around to actually enforce it, except perhaps in court after an injury or fatality. It is not uncommon at all for residents in unincorporated areas to go weeks or months without seeing a squad car in their region. When everyone knows that they can stretch, bend or break even the most basic laws of civility and predictability, higher crash counts inevitably follow. While the actions of the pedestrian (or bicyclist) is always cited as contributing or not, a gross lack of defensive driving due to paltry driver education, no redundant education, and virtually no law enforcement is a far greater problem overall.

Summary: Though certainly not alone in this, Delaware's built environment is a microcosm of the death and carnage now accepted as "normal" in the U.S. -- normal by placing motor vehicle traffic at human scale. Earlier govt planners, engineers and architects foisted this upon us by trashing livability in favor of "Stroads" that incorporate driveways, streets, parking lots, etc as directly connected to highways. Post WW2 design should have included frontage, service, and ring roads, and other treatments that allow highways to stay just that: relatively uninterrupted carriage ways between larger destinations with ample walking-biking cross-through (tunnel under) opportunities. Now dangerous by design, the State and its Counties (along with their Advisers and Advocates) are unable or unwilling to provide the needed tools and coping strategies.

View the proposed updated Delaware Vehicle Code for Pedestrians in pdf format, that was quashed by Bike Delaware and the Delaware Pedestrian Council with no further discussion. It was crafted by using the best of language from progressive States, e.g. Washington, Oregon, Mass, etc where motorist's respect for non-motorized road users is visibly higher than in Delaware, and the statistics are there to back it.

View the 2018 pedestrian fatality statistics for the whole of the U.S. Delaware took a "rest" from the top 5 in 2018, but is set to return in 2019.

Read an article in Strong Towns comparing Streets, Roads, and "Stroads", and what we can do to eliminate the latter in favor of livable streets and communities.

Watch James Howard Kunstler on YouTube destroy the very notion of cars as human scale.