In this e-Newsletter we share a report and next steps from last Monday’s Town Hall with DNREC to discuss health risks of hazardous substances at the Rodney Reservoir and the City’s plan for demolition. We also share an invitation to participate in Rodney Reservoir Public Workshops sponsored by the City of Wilmington tonight, 12/11 and tomorrow 12/12.
WHO WE ARE: Green for the Greater Good is a group of neighbors working to keep the Rodney Reservoir safe, public and green so all residents can enjoy its use. Let’s all work together to make sure our community’s health is protected and the Rodney Reservoir becomes a park.
1. TOWN HALL WITH DNREC: SUMMARY
Many thanks to the 80+ neighbors who participated, asked questions, and showed decision-makers how important this issue is to our community! Thank you also to the representatives of DNREC’s Waste and Hazardous Substances and Air Quality divisions, the City of Wilmington’s Public Works Department, and the City’s contractors D’Huy Engineering and Verdantas who made presentations and answered questions. We appreciate everyone’s time and professionalism.
Here are key points from what we learned:
Why DNREC approved the City’s plan to not clean up known hazardous substances at the Rodney Reservoir:
DNREC is allowing the CIty to move forward with demolition without cleaning up known hazardous substances because the use of the site is not currently residential and not expected to be residential in the future, and DNREC’s risk model showed unacceptable health risks only for residential use.
In cases like these, DNREC’s regulations require the property owner to sign a deed restriction preventing future residential development, but DNREC told us they would not require the CIty to sign a deed restriction until after demolition.
In addition, DNREC said they would allow the City to resample the soils at the Rodney Reservoir after the demolition and check to see if anything has changed. This would leave the option open for the city to both avoid cleaning up the site and avoid a deed restriction preventing future residential use.
DNREC should follow the law and either require the City to remediate hazardous substances at the site before demolition or require the City to sign the deed restriction right away. Anything less is not fair to our community.
Community Members Also Raised Other Important Issues:
DNREC’s risk model does not account for:
How demolition would impact residents living nearby, including across the street from the site;
Impact of demolition on vulnerable populations in our neighborhood like patients with acute conditions at the hospital and rehab center;
Cumulative impact of exposure on residents of neighborhoods already burdened with air quality issues;
Risks of exposure to silica, a major component of concrete, in demolition dust.
In addition, many neighbors left with questions about compliance and enforcement. Verdantas, the City’s contractor, said they are working on an Air Monitoring Work Plan. The DNREC Air Quality team said that site owners are responsible to make sure that there is no dust during demolition. DNREC shared an Emergency Response # 800-662-8802 for neighbors to call if/when we see dust. We need to pursue further opportunities for the community to discuss this issue with the responsible parties. Please stay tuned!
Representatives of the City also suggested that the timeline for the project has been moved back to a likely start in late February/early March and that the bid process cannot be completed until DNREC has approved the Environmental Monitoring Work Plan. The City also reported that there will be testing of the concrete water tank for asbestos once a contractor is hired and can dig into the site to access it. Those results will inform how the project can proceed as well. Residents voiced concerns that this could push demolition well into the summer.
2. TAKE ACTION: Click here to learn how you can send a letter to Governor Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin and ask them to protect our community’s health and help us make sure the City actually builds a park at the Rodney Reservoir.
3. RODNEY RESERVOIR PUBLIC WORKSHOPS MON. 12/11 AND TUES 12/12
All are invited to take part in the Rodney Reservoir Public Workshops that start tonight Monday 12/11 from 6-8 PM and continue Tuesday, 12/12 from 4-6PM at St. Anthony’s School in their cafeteria (enter at 1772 W. 10th Street). These are two options for the very same workshop sponsored by the City and facilitated by the landscape architecture firm, Hinge Collective. There are so many possibilities for this almost 4-acre site. Come and share your ideas and inspirations!
Green for the Greater Good still believes that our community must continue to advocate that the City complete the design and secure funding to build the park before starting demolition. We need a design that both minimizes soil disturbance and builds on historical and topographical features of the site. In addition, we must take advantage of the benefits that combining design and construction phases of the project afford: saving money, reducing the carbon footprint of the project, and limiting the community’s exposure to hazardous substances, silica, diesel fumes, noise pollution and other issues while creating a beautiful and accessible public park at the Rodney Reservoir.
GET MORE INVOLVED
We need to work together to make sure our neighborhood is heard and the city works with us on the future of the Rodney Reservoir! Here are some more ways you can help:
Share posts on your own social media.
Visit the website for the latest news.
Join weekly Saturday meetings at 10 AM at the Church of The Holy City at 1118 N. Broom Street. Enter to the right of the main door and enter through the side door.