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.