Sunday, April 3, 2022

Park & Pathways for Harmony Woods? It could happen

Built from the '70s through late '80s, Harmony Woods (map here) in Ogletown, Delaware, is one of  New Castle County's (NCC) largest housing developments. As required by the Unified Development Code (UDC), approx 16 acres of land was set aside as mandatory open space. Most of it is forest canopy, but several acres are grass fields and require steady maintenance (mowing). This is coordinated by the HW Civic Assoc (FB), of which funding is a frequent topic at meetings, while the space remains fallow. In virtually all other NCC communities of this size, such land is a park with place-making amenities, which the County says they are working on improving.

For some reason, a park never happened with Harmony Woods, but this space represents a magnificent opportunity that's long overdue. According to their latest newsletter (snipped below), NCC Councilman Tim Sheldon will ask for a feasibility study on a "small" park:


As seen from NCC's GIS viewer, Harmony Woods owns the parcel all the way back and immediately abutting Liberty Square Apartments. It would seem intuitive that any park proposal should take full advantage and include the maximum space available to the community. Residents frequently walk, run or bicycle on the grass and through a berm (goat path) as a connection to Prides Crossing. This berm should be eliminated for a complete flat grass park, with formal 8' asphalt pathways (pdf) added. This includes key connections from Melodic Drive to Chatham Lane or Sussex Road. These ultimately connect to the Red Mill Road pathway, East Coast Greenway (ECG DE), and the planned Ogletown Historical Site and Marker. Other pathways, as indicated in the crude map at right, should also be added, along with amenities such as park benches, kiosks and/or waysides.

Streets are the only parks and recreation in Harmony Woods
Typically, to address the concerns of any adjacent property owners who might complain, County officials will offer mitigation strategies. For example, 6-10' stockade privacy fencing or shrubs are easily installed as part of the project. Though parks are hugely favored by the overwhelming majority of citizens, there are some challenges and lots of time involved to getting it done, but we will eagerly wait. One advantage -- unlike other lost opportunities -- is that this land is already in public hands, unlike others that we are all too familiar with.

Let's hope Councilman Sheldon comes back with some good news, that Harmony Woods will finally make the best use of its open space in the form of a park, community, place-making and multi-modal connectivity. The region as a whole is hugely lacking of parks and paths, and has been disenfranchised relative to most other regions of NCC. The importance of naturehood and protection (and increase) of property values cannot be overstated, and we are elated that our civic and elected leaders see this, and are prepared to act.


Also see: Another lost park opportunity in Ogletown?

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Safety Fail: Lack of Zebra Crossings on ECG in Ogletown

Seriously eroded ECG used for car parking
With the approval of a Historical Marker commemorating Ogletown, and a quarter millennia  since the passing of its founder, the time has come to improve multi-modal access to this historic site. Regional legislators, including Senator Jack Walsh, have already agreed on action to address the failed infrastructure surrounding Thomas Ogle's tomb and green space. This includes the East Coast Greenway (ECG) west from SR273, and two connectors: one to Prides Crossing and the other to Chestnut Hill Estates via Old Ogletown Rd.

More recently, we discovered the gross lack of zebra striping of the ECG (streetview) through Chestnut Hill Plaza, a Meineke repair shop, and a Liberty gas station. Meinekie has even adopted the ROW as defacto car parking. This facility was originally paved at the width (8') required for bidirectional bike-ped traffic, and is eroded and narrowing in many sections. It rises up and back down through driveways, when the opposite is required for traffic calming and multi-modal awareness. Adding zebra crossings won't fix the problem of high speed entrances from SR4, but will bring awareness (and thus some added safety) for ECG users and Ogletown destination-making.

ECG just west of Augusta Drive
We were rebuffed in an effort to improve the Augusta Drive intersection further west. Instead, ECG continuity was broken, with a new, cars-only signal upgrade. Further west, driveways at the DE School for the Deaf (DSD) are properly aligned and zebra striped, as seen in the photo right. It would appear that Complete Streets is being applied sporadically, or by socio-economic status, with consequences that could take decades to fix.

The long range goal for the ECG is a continuous facility brought up to modern design standards, some of which can be found further to the east. Recent setbacks like Augusta, however, only cement Ogletown among the disenfranchised. When asked, there are few to no answers from several oversight orgs. In contrast, Advocates should be pouncing on each and every opportunity to improve the ECG -- even with basic highway maintenance projects as called for in DelDOT's Complete Streets policy.


This proposal
to enhance placemaking in Ogletown would bring some consolation -- not just for Thomas Ogle but also the loss of the Orphanage Property as a regional park -- the chance of which will never come again.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ogletown Historical Marker Approved

We are pleased to announce the approval of a Ogletown Historical Marker. This will commemorate 250 years since the passing of Thomas Ogle, and the more recent passing of Ogletown. As per Delaware Archives:

I am very pleased to notify you that the State of Delaware Historical Markers Committee has reviewed the Thomas Ogle marker application and it has been approved by the committee to receive a historical marker. The current time frame for the full completion of each marker at this point is roughly a year, which includes the research, drafting of text, fabrication, installation, and unveiling of the historical marker.

If there are any questions that I can be of assistance in answering, please let me know and I would be happy to help any way possible. I am very much looking forward to seeing Ogletown recognized for the rich history the area has to offer and will be sure to notify you all of any updates moving forward. All the best,  ~Taylor Reynolds, Delaware Historical Markers Program Coordinator


With the year ahead, we will begin advocating for pathways, place-making and infrastructure improvements with the Legislators. The following was written to area legislators whose Districts that Mr Ogle's tomb and the (coming) historical marker resides in.

Given the firmness of the approval, and as the next agreed upon step, can we please begin the infra improvement process? This is only 0.5 miles of pathways between Prides Crossing and Chestnut Hill Estates (Old SR273). This should be min. 8' asphalt with a yellow or white center line, along with ROW delineation through west side parking areas. Most of it already exists as the East Coast Greenway. We are asking for a proper rehab using MUTCD/AASHTO guidelines, and a spur path to the marker with something like this (attached, Markell Trail) at the end. This will make the marker and green space much more inviting as a historical site.  ~Francis Warnock & Angela Connolly

Click HERE for posts leading up to this approval, including the application itself.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Delaware on track to smash 2021 crash fatals

First 2 months of 2022. Multi-year sampling periods confirm the
trend we are on. Click on image above for the latest numbers.
Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

Statistically, Delaware is heading for a road safety disaster in 2022 - in particular New Castle County. Speeding, aggressive and distracted driving is rampant, with injuries and fatalities on pace to surpass even Florida. Despite strict laws to the contrary, many (if not most) offenders have a State-approved aftermarket and/or modified exhaust system. These behaviors account for why virtually nobody rides a bicycle for transportation or recreation -- even after 10 years of Complete Streets policy implementations.

There is virtually no pro-active law enforcement, particularly within Delaware's vast unincorporated zones. Police are few and far between, and spend most of their time answering 911 calls. An active and growing minority of drivers know this, as evidenced by the many vehicles now sporting fully tinted windows (also illegal). Even the City of Newark won't enforce the most deafening and disturbing of "loud mufflers". The lack of such basic government services has Delaware ranking criminally awful (CFPI), especially in matters of transparency. It is a top-5 worst State to live on several key socio-economic fronts, and consistently ranks as most dangerous to walk or ride a bicycle .

Mean Streets: designing cars like Dearth Vader
Our safety and quality of life is being destroyed right in front of our eyes; vehicle assault and violence is deafening our ears and ruining our health. County and State legislators offer token support, sometimes introducing bills that build on existing laws -- but these come up woefully short on enforcement. Organizations that claim to advocate for bicycling and connectivity have either given up on road safety or appear to be co-opted.

Minus a paradigm shift, and a mass conscience re-awakening toward the common good, things are only going to get worse. The suburbs, which comprises the vast majority of Delaware's built environment, are "entropy made visible", and will not be rescued unless we collectively change our thinking.

The above assaults are becoming more and more prevalent, even on Delaware's "quieter" neighborhood streets. We are trying to obtain 911 call data, that shows that this is among the most frequent emergency call types in New Castle County (stay tuned).


Above: "Bike Lane" on Red Mill Road in Ogletown. Authorities often question as to why so few people ride in Delaware, yet the answer is laid in rubber for all to see.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

How to view Ogletown in 1982, from orbit

For our sentimental followers, here are simple instructions for how to view Ogletown circa 1982. Most folks are unaware of the New Castle County GIS (Global Imaging Satellite) viewer. This is an extremely powerful tool used by County officials as they "plan" the various land-use activities, usually to the detriment of conservation Advocates of all stripes. Fortunately for us, the latest version of this application includes 1982 aerial imagery, which allows us to revert to Ogletown 40 years ago. Use the below window, or head directly to the viewer HERE.


Navigate down the left column to "1982 Aerial Imagery" and select the checkbox. Then click on the 3 horizontal dots, select "Transparency", then slide Opaque to Transparent to juxtapose today's arterial highways. It becomes clear how many structures were razed to make way for MBNA Bank and suburban sprawl.

Monday, December 27, 2021

First Meeting for a Ogletown Historical Marker (minutes)

1982 imagery, with today's highways juxtaposed in red.
Dec 10, 2021, 11 a.m. | Location: Thomas Ogle Gravesite

Meeting called by: Taylor Reynolds (DE Dept of Public Archives, Markers Program Coordinator)

Type of meeting: Preliminary

Attendees:

Angela Connolly (Advocate), Rep Edward Osienski (RD24), Taylor Reynolds (DPA), Sen Jack Walsh (SD9), Francis Warnock (Advocate)

Marker Application & Approval

Similar marker in Cecil County MD, ~600 characters.
Taylor:

  • Good chance that the marker will be approved.
  • Likely time frame for decision is early 2021.
  • May take up to 1.5 years for completion and finished installation of marker.
  • Will send update emails through the process.


Ed/Jack:

  • Funding for the marker (CTF).
  • Pathways in Green. View from Orbit HERE.
    Formal repave/rehab of SR4 pathway aka East Coast Greenway from OBC to Salem Church Rd.
  • Formal repave/rehab of Old Ogletown Rd-SR4 pathway.
  • Addition of a spur pathway to the gravesite & marker, w/bench and bike parking (inverted U).
  • DelDOT assessment of Ogletown Baptist Church/Old Red Mill Rd pathway spur for rehab/repave.
  • Work with OBC toward an easement that will permit Old Red Mill Rd pathway spur for public use.
  • Designate car parking for site visitation? (if feasible).

Warnock/Connolly:

  • Region is disenfranchised for open space, pathways, historical recognition, and place-making.
  • East Coast Greenway is a national project deserving of community connectivity.
  • OBC/Red Mill pathway is a crucial connection between Prides Crossing and SR4/ECG.
  • Old Ogletown Rd pathway is a crucial connection from Chestnut Hill Estates to ECG and gravesite.
  • Will assist legislators if asked, and encourage citizen support as needed.
  • Upon approval of pathway and access improvements, will redirect advocacy toward DelDOT to ensure that pedestrian and bicyclist’s needs are correctly met. 

It was agreed upon that approval of the historical marker is first priority at this time, followed by the above mentioned infra improvements. It was not discussed if any formal announcement or press release should be issued as per the passing of Thomas Ogle on Dec 23, 1771 (250 years) -- or wait until official press release.

Meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Thomas Ogle 250 Year Commemoration and Tidy-up

Paying respects: Christopher T. George
On Dec 23, the date of Thomas Ogle's passing 250 years ago, we visited his gravesite to perform a minor tidy up. During foliage season, the tomb was in danger of disappearing from overgrowth. I was joined by Christopher Thompson George, who removed trash from the site as I pruned back tree branches. Christopher is a published British-born historian of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake. Among his proudest achievements as an Advocate was helping save the Baltimore County War of 1812 North Point Battlefield of September 12, 1814 from the boot of developers.

As we completed our mission over an unopened bottle of Tott's champagne, I learned that Christopher is 3 years living in Ogletown, and very interested in the local history here after relocating from Maryland. We talked about his above land-use victory in Maryland, and the loss of the Orphanage Property in western Ogletown. It comes with great sadness that no amount of historical significance, environmental imperative or socio-economic needs can overcome Govt corruption in Delaware in matters of land-use.

Orphanage Property in Nov 2016
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. Lost to a deluge of illegal high density development, 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, or Gov Markell's "Trails and Pathways" or "Walkable Bikeable Delaware" as espoused by Bike Delaware (fraud).

As we continue to mourn the horrific loss above, our effort to add a historical marker and new pathway infrastructure at Thomas Ogle's gravesite will hopefully gain momentum in 2022. This small piece of green space, flanked by highway on and off ramps, is DelDOT-owned and hopefully remains off-limits to developers. Unfortunately, not even the most critical habitat area is truly off-limits in Delaware, and one grave is easy enough to relocate. Even though it is far from ideal for parkland or placemaking given illegal vehicle noise alone, we should still watch and demand protection for this historic plot of land as as the future unfolds.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Ogletown on Wikipedia, updated

Thomas Ogle House (photo courtesy of Scott Clabaugh)
For local history enthusiasts, the Wikipedia page for Ogletown has been updated to include a more in-depth look at its history, and to reflect on current events. Formerly a stub, additional edits and additions are always encouraged. You may also include these in comments below.

Thomas Ogle (born 1666-1672, died 1734), son of John Ogle who arrived in Delaware in 1665 from England, was an early colonial landowner in what is today central New Castle County Delaware. Ogletown is named after his son Thomas Ogle II (born about 1705, died 1771), who settled in the area of present-day Delaware Route 273 and Delaware Route 4 in the 1730s.[2]The burial site of Thomas Ogle II is isolated within a highway cloverleaf, and is the focus of an effort currently underway to recognize his passing and to revitalize the area. The name is associated with the area from before 1774, and in the late 19th century it was a small village with a store, a post office, and about half a dozen houses.[3]Additional homes and businesses sprang up throughout the 20th century. Ogletown would eventually lose its village-like character to suburban sprawl, road re-alignments, the arrival of Maryland National Bank (MBNA), and the construction of arterial highways.

  • Ogletown prospered during the 17th century because of a location along one of the major transpeninsular roads laid out in Delaware, extending from the Head of Elk on the Chesapeake Bay to Christiana Bridge. The dogleg nature of the roads in the Ogletown area created an ideal situation for the creation of a hamlet-type community, including an inn and place of lodging.[4]
  • From 1994-1999, a road expansion project of Route 273 obliterated any remnants of the original hamlet. In the course of highway construction, the grave of Thomas Ogle II was uncovered, "badly disturbed by road construction and the construction of a gas station on the site." As part of the project, and with the generous financial support of the Ogle Family Association (O/OFA), DelDOT restored the rectangular brick base and capstone, leaving Thomas' remains untouched, in what is now green space inside the new cloverleaf intersection. Only a small plaque on the brick base commemorates the history of the town.[5][6]
  • In 2016, a group called Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) began a campaign to preserve Ogletown's last remaining open space suitable for a regional park, located in the town's western flank. The effort was defeated in 2018, with Advocates citing multiple examples of government corruption as the primary cause.
  • In 2021, Advocates submitted an application with Delaware Public Archives for a historical marker, to begin an effort to recognize Ogletown, given that the town's founder, Thomas Ogle, died in 1771, 250 years ago.

Today, residents and businesses in the area have Newark postal addresses, and the name Ogletown survives primarily in the names of Ogletown Road and Ogletown-Stanton Road[full page continues HERE]

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Application for Thomas Ogle Grave Site Historical Marker

Thomas Ogle's Tomb, as of Aug 21, 2021
The following has been submitted with an application for a Historical Marker at the grave site of Thomas Ogle, who will have died 250 years ago as of Dec 23, 2021.

Background:
In 1955, when DelDOT first widened State Road (SR) 4 at Salem Church Road, the Thomas Ogle House stood in the way. The State purchased the land containing the house, which included his grave site. Delaware donated the historic house to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which agreed to relocate it. Unfortunately, the DAR’s plans fell through and the historic house was razed.

The original gravesite, a flat stone slab inscribed with the epitaph of Thomas Ogle, was placed over a slightly raised base. It split into sixteen pieces (large and small) that were removed in the late 1980s during an expansion of SR4. The broken sections, some with illegible or missing words, are being preserved at the University of Delaware’s Center for Archaeological Research. During the period the gravesite became overgrown and unsightly.

While building the new SR4/SR273/Salem Church Road interchange, DelDOT took historic and cultural responsibility for the gravesite. It avoided the grave area by shifting the ramp away. Using proven archaeological techniques, DelDOT expertly and respectfully confirmed that Thomas Ogle’s remains were still at the original location. Without disturbing the remains, DelDOT prepared new concrete footings on which a new brick mausoleum/base was constructed to support a restored capstone. The red brick wall is backed with solid blocks to establish a masonry wall of 6’ 6” long by 3’ 6” wide by 20” high.

New wayside on the Jack Markel Rail Trail in New Castle
Thomas Ogle's restored gravesite commemorates the Ogletown area and the Ogle family influence, but is poorly maintained with no visible emphasis on history, place making and public access. Citing highway safety, no parking of any kind was installed from the SR4/Salem Church intersection. However, the East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a shared-use pathway (SUP) facility along SR4 that passes approx 50 yards' from the gravesite. The ECG connects to the Ogletown Baptist Church (OBC) via a 4' wide, 500' long asphalt sliver of what was formerly Red Mill Road. With no maintenance to speak of, mother nature (the elements) is reclaiming both of these facilities along with the gravesite. It should be noted that OBC greatly expanded its car parking lot since the idea of public access was last revisited in the 1990s. This lot is grossly underutilized except on Sunday mornings, and today serves as defacto gravesite car parking. Either the OBC or DelDOT needs to repave the 4' Red Mill asphalt out to 8' (according to MUTCD guidelines), and the ECG similarly repaved in an inviting manner that includes a spur pathway, bike parking and kiosk immediately adjacent to the gravesite.

Originally a cross-roads, farming and gathering community, Thomas Ogle and Ogle family generations have lived in the Area for over 250 years. A writer for the Wilmington News Journal in 1998 said it well: “Thomas Ogle’s grave is the last vestige of a town that was founded before the American Revolution and has been virtually under siege ever since”. Large office buildings, condos, apartments, sub-divisions, shopping centers, highways and streets have long since replaced the pastoral setting of Thomas’ days.

Statement of Significance:
Thomas Ogle, (born 1705 in DE, died 23 Dec. 1771 in New Castle Co., DE) was a grandson of the soldier/immigrant John Ogle, (born 1648/49 – died 1684) who came from England with the Richard Nicolls’ Expedition in 1664 and was possibly the first Ogle in the Americas. Thomas became a wealthy and influential businessman and planter in New Castle County, DE. His various businesses, large land holdings and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas operated as an Inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow, dirt roads that formed the crossroad.

Thomas Ogle’s various businesses, large land holdings and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas also operated as an Inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow dirt roads that formed the crossroads.

Respectfully Submitted by:
Kenneth M. Ogle, President, Ogle/Ogles Family Association, Inc.
Francis Warnock & Angela Connolly, OgletownResilience.org, 1stBikes.org

Above: Bicycling to Thomas Ogle's tomb in Spring of 2016. The site appears somewhat maintained as little as 5 years ago. Today, a quarter millennium since his death, it has nearly disappeared under tree overgrowth.

Also see: Abandoned and forgotten: Thomas Ogle, 1705-1771

Thursday, August 19, 2021

1st State Bikes presents comments for Churchmans Crossing Plan

Project boundary (click to enlarge)
Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

Greetings, Wilmapco.
Please add our comments below to the Churchmans Crossing Plan, before the Sept 2021 deadline. Upon generations of failed elected leadership, and climate catastrophe now looming, the need to facilitate active and green transport modes could not be more dire. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:
  • The project scope contains several bi-directional MUP facilities (Multi-User Pathways) that were built decades ago. Along SR4 and SR58 is the East Coast Greenway (ECG). These need to be improved and/or rehabbed using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance) esp where crossing through intersections.
  • Where MUP facilities exist, or will be added, these should never go off-alignment with acute zig-zagging through intersections via narrow sidewalks; MUPs should maintain their full width (min. 8' wide asphalt, buffered where possible) and continue in parallel to the road they are on, including through radial turns. Look to DelDOT's "SR299, SR1 to Catherine Street Project (pdf)" as a good example, or APBP/NACTO guidelines.
  • An 8' asphalt MUP facility should replace the narrow sidewalk on SR58/Churchmans Rd from just east of Christiana Hospital to at least Cavaliers, and include a marked, button actuated crosswalk (of equal width) under SR7/1. A MUP currently exists along the Christiana Hospital property, and there is a well designed bike-ped bridge over I95 further east on SR58 as you approach Cavaliers. These should all be connected in one contiguous 8' bi-directional facility, as an improvement to the ECG.
  • Upgrade/improve/rehab the following MUP connectors using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance):
    => East Coast Greenway within project scope
    => Lisbeth Rd to Brennen School parking lot
    => Old Ogletown Rd to SR4-Salem Church Jct
    => Prides Crossing to SR4 MUP/ECG
    => E. Cherokee Dr to Johnson Rd
    => SR4 MUP/ECG continuity at Augusta
  • Convert abandoned roads into MUPs:
    => Old Harmony Rd from north of Greenridge Rd to Old Capitol Trail
    => S. Wakefield thru Leathermans Run
  • Dearth of parks: Streets used as ball courts
    A park that includes ball courts, walking & biking paths, benches and other forms of place and destination-making is desperately needed for Harmony Woods and the region in general.
  • Add a shoulder bike lane on Salem Church Rd between I95 and Old Baltimore Pike, on what is technically "Bike Route 1". Cars and trucks cannot safely pass cyclists here without entering the opposing lane, and road rage commonly ensues.
  • Reduce the speed limit on SR4 from 50 mph to 40 mph, and 35 mph in school zones: DE Deaf-Blind, Kirk MS. Several speed studies over the years have shown rampant speeding along this corridor, in access of 57 avg mph. Investigate the use of traffic calming measures such as median vegetation plantings, signage, and other means to protect the children from these schools, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. They often cross SR4 at Augusta, going to and from 7/11 for snacks. Reducing the speed limit cannot be emphasized enough. Delaware is now ranked #1 deadliest State in the nation for biking, and near #1 for walking, largely due to abject failure in this regard.
  • Recognize and honor the passing of Thomas Ogle, founder of Ogletown, who died exactly 250 years ago on 12/23/1771. This should include a spur pathway connector from the existing SR4 MUP aka ECG, along with a historical wayside and some bike parking (as seen at regular intervals along, e.g. the Markell Trail/Indus Track). This article in Delaware on-line from 2015 highlights that very need, which went ignored.
  • Typical "goat path" from the ECG in S. Newark
    Reduce neighborhood street speed limits from 25 to 20 mph, led by a "20 is Plenty" safety campaign or similar. Cost estimate HERE.
  • Assess, formalize and convert all "goat path" connections into MUPs. These are commonly visible coming off existing MUPs, usually connecting to adjacent shopping centers and strip malls. These occur when numerous people walk or bike across grass that eventually erodes and forms its own trail. These should be upgraded to pathways.
Please advise how we may track our comments through the process, to verify if they are being considered for implementation or not. Thank you for listening.

SIGNED: Angela Connolly and Frank Warnock

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Abandoned and forgotten: Thomas Ogle, 1705-1771

Mother Nature closing in: Thomas Ogle's tomb as of Aug 3, 2021

Thomas Ogle, founder of Ogletown, will have passed away 250 years ago as of Dec 23, 2021. Unless something secret is planned that we don't know about, this historical moment in time -- a quarter-millennium ago -- may come and go with nary a peep from regional State and NCC Legislators. According to a reliable source familiar with historical preservation and legislation in Delaware:

Asking your State legislators for a proclamation from the General Assembly is a good place to start. The legislature won't be back in session now until January but a staff person can help draft one during the summer months, and in the opening days of legislative session read it and present it to your group.
 
Next step: It takes a while to get funding from the State as they have just completed this fiscal year and won't have access to money until next June, but this is the right time to plant the seed. It may take as long as 2 or 3 years as the legislators will have to negotiate with Parks & Rec and DelDOT, but the more clearly you can write a one page proposal of who, what, when and where (about 100 words) and get it to appropriate staff people in those agencies, with cc's to your elected officials, the better luck you will have.


Though most of this doesn't sound very difficult per se, involvement from our end will be difficult to stomach. 3 years of our lives were lost, discarded, thrown away by the region's legislators in our attempt to save the Orphanage Property, which was crushed under the boot of DE government corruption that included conspiracy, profiteering and a rampant conflict of interest.

According to The Ogle Genealogist family publication:
Ogle Genealogist Page 32

Thomas Ogle (born 1705 in DE, died on Dec 23 1771 in New Castle County (NCC), DE, possibly married three times and with nine known children), was the son of Thomas Ogle (born 1666/72 in DE, died between Juuly 30 and Sept 18 1734 also in NCC, DE) and Mary Crawford. He was the grandson of the immigrant John Ogle (born 1648/49 — died 1684) and Elizabeth, whose maiden name has not been irrefutably identified.

Thomas became a wealthy and influential businessman and planter in New Castle County. He owned three mills and a wharf at Christiana Bridge, hundreds of acres of agricultural and forested land in NCC, and many additional investments.

Thomas built a stylish, two-story, brick house in 1739 at the northeast corner of a junction of three important roads: present day DE SR273, which extended from Christiana Bridge to Nottingham in PA; DE SR4 4 (Chestnut Hill Rd.) from Stanton through Newark DE to the Elk River in Maryland; and Red Mill Road, which ran north from the intersection of SR273 and SR4 to Corner Ketch. All these roads were significant transportation arteries by 1750 and have remained important for 250 years. A fourth highway, Salem Church Road, was constructed in 1827 in a southerly direction from the intersection.

Thomas Ogle's various businesses, large land holdings, and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas also operated as an inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow, dirt roads that formed the crossroads.

Sadly, it is doubtful that Senators Bryan Townsend and Jack Walsh, Reps Osienski and David Bentz, or NCC's Lisa Diller and Tim Sheldon (all of whom represent Ogletown) will recognize anything about Thomas Ogle and this historical milestone. No park or monument designation, no spur pathway, no kiosk, not even a wayside. And why should they care? The region is socio-economically depressed and undeserving of nice things that include history and place-making. As demonstrated by the STOP travesty, citizen advocacy would likely falter (or even be laughed at) in the face of low to no public or volunteer support.

Around the anniversary date of Dec 23, we will visit the burial site with landscaping tools of our own, and leave a tribute behind to remind Thomas that someone was indeed thinking of him (UPDATE 08/17/2021: we received an email from Delaware Public Archives (DPA) with regard to the Delaware Historical Markers Program. They are supportive of a Historical Marker installed at the site, which can only happen via an application process. Stay tuned for any progress.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Comments on the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan

Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

Greetings, DE State Parks.
Please add our comments below to the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan, before the 8-2-2021 deadline. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:

  • There is only 1 park bench/rest stop along the paved Tri-Valley SUP (Shared Use Pthway). There needs to be more, at equal distances, so people can stop, rest and take in the views. The same goes for the entire length of the Pomeroy Trail.
  • "Shared Zone" (or similar, MUTCD) and posted speed limit signs need to be added along Creek Road and Wedgewood Roads where these are paved and shared with motor vehicles. See attached image (right). Presently there is no signage, and no posted speed limit, and cars -- often times speeding -- are weaving between bike-ped traffic.
  • We do NOT agree with the others who are against using stone dust, fine gravel or limestone or other packing materials on trails. Please continue to use these as a proven means to control erosion and formalize trails as needed.
  • Please REMOVE the hanging cable that is blocking Tom Sharpe Lane, at Judge Morris Estate, turning in from Polly Drummond Road. This is a trip or crash hazard, and should be replaced with a removable bollard(s) or partial gate with clear bike-ped access, e.g. along Creek Rd.
  • Tell DelDOT to replace the unsightly concrete barriers on Creek Road at the Pomeroy Trail bridge curve with something more aesthetically pleasing. These are an eyesore and detract from the park's otherwise beautiful scenery.
  • With the advent of "Gravel" bikes and wider trail riding, park trails and pathways should be sub-grouped into the following categories, and mapped as such, e.g. 1. PAVED  2. GRAVEL  3. MTB
  • The Tri-Valley SUP is very overgrown between 9 foot Rd and its southern terminus at Thompson Station/SR72, and is reduced to about 2/3 width. This is hazardous for bi-directional bike-ped traffic. Please perform maintenance, including mowing and edging. At 8', this is the min recommended width for such a facility according to FHWA.
  • Improve safety for the bike-ped crossing between Creek Rd (gravel section) and Tweeds Mill (nature center). A large-sized MUTCD-approved R1-5 in each direction would be a big improvement. As it stands now, most motorists continue through the marked crosswalk, even with people standing there waiting.
  • Connect via SUP the Carpenter Area with the Pomeroy Trail, and that with the Possum Hill and Middle Run Areas.
  • Continue working on a WCCSP-Fair Hill connection via SUP, if that is still being considered.
Thank you so much for listening. Please let us know if there is a way to track our comments, to verify whether or not they are being considered.

--Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly


Above: A hanging cable blocks the entrance to Judge Morris Estate at White Clay Creek State Park. Bollard(s) should always be used where foot & pedal traffic is permitted. Users -- especially the disabled -- should not have to lift their bikes, step over, or cycle around a lengthy stone wall to access the Estate.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Privilege Has It's Rewards: Part 5

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

This post was featured on Bike Delaware's Facebook page on April 11. It's pretty self-explanatory, in terms of what regions of New Castle County receive priority based on socio-economic status. Surely, Rep Osienski will head over there again, outside his District 24, to help cut the ribbon with Baumbach (Rep, 24th) when completed. Bike Delaware is a developer's wildest dream, in terms of a corrupt org that drives advocacy only for the privileged few; forget the 'unwashed' -- or those living in the vast suburbs that include Ogletown-S. Newark.

Saving the Orphanage Property required only 10% the cost of the Route 9 Library

Monday, April 19, 2021

Surprise! (not): Delaware 5th loudest State in the U.S.

Cross-posted from Bryan-Townsend.com

Time and time again
, Delaware fails miserably when it comes to leadership and quality of life. Here is yet another measure reaching the top 5: Noise. This study only crunched some numbers, and cited statistics, but it failed to include other factors such as law enforcement (level of, lack thereof). It didn't include the colossal failure by the State and its various Police agencies to penalize and/or prosecute for drag racing and modified vehicle exhaust systems. These include "fart can mufflers", straight pipes or other modified systems that vastly increases vehicle noise. For most residents living in New Castle County's suburbs, for example, even a half mile from the nearest arterial road can sound like track-side at a NASCAR event. Many people hear it inside their homes, even above their TV, especially on weekend nights. There is no police enforcement of this crime, so the offenders know they can get away with it. Often times, the decibel on acceleration is 120+ decibels, which if you're a pedestrian or bicyclist, is hurtful or damaging to the ear. This is assault, and 100% illegal according to Delaware law, in multiple code sections (HERE & HERE). Yet, as expected, it gets a free pass by Townsend and cohorts.

Where is Senator Townsend on this? Nowhere, that's where. He would rather pass a bill to criminalize snow on car rooftops, that may happen a few times each Winter. On the other hand, oppressive and painful vehicle noise from non-standard illegal exhaust systems goes FAR further in destroying the qualify of life, health and wellbeing of everyday Delawareans. Why doesn't Townsend and his Democrat-controlled legislature introduce a bill to step up prosecution of this deliberate and disgusting act by a small minority that hurts the clear majority, AND wildlife? Even the City of Newark and University Police won't enforce deafening vehicle noise, in an environment rich with walking and bicycling on or near the roads.

Senator Townsend, along with Rep Edward Osienski and NCC's Lisa Diller are the epitome of failed leadership. Not just in Delaware, but any State. Until we rise up and hold them accountable on issues like this, there will be no end to the corruption, in sight. Delaware is represented by the 4th most criminal State govt in the nation. Its residents have to act and vote with this in mind, in order to stop them.


Vehicle noise assault on a "complete street" in New Castle County, Delaware.

“If anyone walking along the sidewalk were to make deafening noises, spew poisonous gas into innocent faces, and threaten people with a deadly weapon, they would be arrested. Yet a few feet away, on the public roadway, it is considered normal behavior” ~Steve Stollman

Saturday, April 17, 2021

In Walsh's Senate District 9, equal LOS for non-motorists is a foreign concept

The following email was sent to Senator Jack Walsh, Delaware District 9 (cross-posted from 1st State Bikes)

Greetings, Senator Walsh,

What is your plan for 2021, to repair and maintain what few asphalt pathways are in your region? These serve as vital connectors for foot/pedal traffic. As of right now, and last year, they are an unmitigated disaster. We have attached a few pics in this email that you should recognize, but there are plenty of others.

There is Bike Delaware, Delaware Greenways, DelDOT's Complete Streets, Gov Markel's Trails & Pathways initiative, Gov Minner's Livable DE, Safe Routes to School, etc etc we could go on and on. These pathways should be clearly defined, with min. 8' wide smooth asphalt.

Rep Baumbach is busy cutting ribbons on parks and pathways projects in his district all the time, in Newark. But yours -- like [Senator] Townsend's -- is like a 3rd world country, at best.

What are you going to do about it?   -- Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly



Above: An overgrown hedgerow and a 2" raised steel plate are the ultimate crash hazard along Wyoming Road. Yet this is routinely used as an extension of Newark's Hall Trail.

Above: Abandoned pathway along Wyoming Road in Newark. What was once wide and appealing for multi-modal use is avoided in favor of the road shoulder. 

Above: What remains of a pathway spur connector, between Prides Crossing and East Coast Greenway along SR4.

Above: Brookbend "Park". Viable parks, pathways and placemaking are virtually non-existent in Walsh's District 9, and (Senator) Townsend's District 11.

Above: Bike Path, aka East Coast Greenway, parallel to SR 4, also in Walsh's District 9. Walsh could ask DelDOT to rehab this facility, and others, perhaps attached to local road rehab projects.

Walsh's reply as of 4/14/2021: I had previously answered your question on one of these paths. It is located on private property and the Church is required to clean up the path. This is the first I am hearing about the other two paths. One path pictured is the county's responsibility, so I can reach out to Councilman Sheldon's office about that one. The other path is on Route 4 and I will contact DelDOT to get them to clean that up.

No, Walsh did not answer anything, not in writing. We can find nothing in writing, and requested that he forward any sent emails that may have been overlooked. "3rd World Country" as defining Walsh's District 9 (and Townsend's District 11) for pathways, parks and destination/place-making is 100% accurate. It may even be an understatement. Will he answer our inquiry above, with a serious action plan? That remains to be seen.

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, where are the 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).