Rebuilding a Future
Development isn’t always bad, but it could often be done better. Now is the time to reimagine the landscape.
Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli
As different as any two groups of people can be, there is usually something that binds them. Many of us would think of the residents of Greenville and those of Townsend as drastically unalike, but as you’ll read in “A Tale of Two Town Centers” (page 72) by Richard L. Gaw, that’s not entirely true.
Both groups are neck deep in battles to stop or modify major developments planned for their neighborhoods. The scale of the projects may differ, but the reasons for the opposition are the same: stress on existing infrastructure and a fundamental change in the character of the areas.
A mixed-use complex almost as big as King of Prussia Mall is planned for Greenville, an island surrounded by some of the most congested roads in the state. Townsend is looking at a more modest project, but one the neighbors are no less concerned about.
Such scenes play out over and over again across the state. And as passionately as some of us may oppose them, they happen for one simple reason: demand. There is always a developer looking at an opportunity, and, yes, they stand to profit greatly. But they profit off our desire for convenience. On some level, we want these projects.
But we want it all, don’t we? A chunk of property and a new home, shopping and services that are near but not too near, and convenient driving are all part of what we’ve been conditioned to expect. Evidently, we don’t want open space as much as we claim—or we want our own open space, right at home.
Open space for all is important. Saving what’s left seems to require one of two things: curbing population growth (impossible) or developing differently: higher density and better services in confined areas. That may mean reaching upward. Think small, pre-war American cities with the latest technology.
It’s economical. Dare I say that, done well, and with mass transit, it’s green. So maybe it’s time to re-think what development could be—and re-think our own needs. The world is only getting smaller.
- A big thank you to general manager Alex Hafer and everyone at Lexus Wilmington for hosting a reception for our top doctors. It was very nice to chat with physicians Paula Nadig, Julia Pillsbury and Susan Kirchdoerffer. I know it’s not easy to make time in a doctor’s busy schedule.
- It’s been weeks since Stephanie Ulbrich showed me around Exceptional Care for Children, so this thank you is way overdue. Exceptional Care is a small, long-term care hospital for children who depend on technology to live, and it’s an extraordinary place. You’ll read all about it in an upcoming issue.
- I can count on bumping into Gary Hindes at a UD football game. I think he’d agree: The loss to Maine was a tough one to take.
- I’m wrecked about the demise of Delaware Grapevine—especially during an election year like this one—and I know I’m not alone. There is no finer political reporter in this state than Celia Cohen. She was a hero to me when we first met on assignment at the Republican National Convention in 1992, and she remains one today.
- Another big thanks, this one to WDEL’s Peter MacArthur for inviting me onto the panel for the debate between Congressman Mike Castle and challenger Karen Hartley-Nagle. Next to voting, it’s the most fun you can have during an election year. And thank you to Widener University School of Law Dean Linda Ammons for gently pointing out that DT did not mention Joe Biden’s 17 years of teaching there. Dean Ammons, I promise, you’ll read about that next month.
- Meeting with Cindy Small of Kent County Tourism and Judy Diogo of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce for our annual catchup is always a highlight of the year. The chicken quesadilla at 33 West is definitely a few notches above the usual.