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.

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