INFORMATION

Meeting Minutes-Blue Ball Property Development

Meeting: Recreation/Historic Preservation Technical Committee
Date: August 16, 1999
Location: Ronald McDonald House, Rockland Road, New Castle County, Delaware

Attending

Members in attendance:

Ms. Beverley Baxter, Ms. Karen Bengston, Mr. Peter Bilous, Ms. Margaret G. Bramble, Mr. Mark Chura, Mr. Ralph Churchill, Mr. Colin Clark, Hon. Catherine A. Cloutier, Ms. Mary Croft, Ms. Dee Durham, Ms. Linda Farmer, Mr. Daniel Griffith, Mr. Chuck Hall, Ms. Elizabeth Holloway, Mr. Jonathan Husband, Ms. MaryAnn Kelly, Mr. Charles B. Manula, Mr. James Matthias, Ms. Lynn Riley, Mr. Ben Smith, Eric J. Sturm, ASLA, Hon. Robert J. Valihura, Jr., Ms. Gail Van Gilder, Hon. Robert Weiner, Ms. L. Heather Williams, Mr. Joseph Wutka.

Members absent:

Hon. Richard Abbott, Hon. Myrna L. Bair, Mr. Paul Bechly, Mr. Peter Besecker, Ms. Leah L. Blevins, Hon. Patricia M. Blevins, Mr. Daniel Bockover, Ms. Pam Cornforth, Mr. Ernie Cragg, Hon. Joseph G. DiPinto, Mr. David English, Hon. David H. Ennis, Mr. Tom Ferry, Ms. Carol Gaudz-Mondelberg, Bobbie Harvey, Ms. Eleanor Kraak, Mr. Greg Lavelle, Mr. Richard Mayo, Hon. Harris B. McDowell, III, Ms. Suzanne Moore, Hon. Roger P. Roy, Mr. Earl Shaffer, Mr. Jerry Shea, Mr. John Shields, Jr., Mr. Robert J. Skomorucha, Mr. Bill Smith, Hon. Wayne A. Smith, Hon. Liane M. Sorenson, Mr. Cash Srinivasan, Mr. Ken Turoczy, Mr. John P. Weaver, Jr., Mr. Mark Weinberg, Mr. Gregory K. Williams, Hon. Dallas Winslow.

Guests:

Mr. Eugene Abbott, Mr. Richard Bartholomew, Mr. Henry Daum, Mr. James P. Lisa, Jr., Mr. Darrell J. Minott, Ms. Connie Moore, Ms. Linda Moreland, Mr. Scott Page, Ms. Sandra Reardon, Mr. Bill Roberts, Mr. Chas Salkin

  1. Introduction
    The kick-off meeting began with an introduction by Darrell J. Minott, Chair of the Executive Committee, who described this master-planning project as a three-pronged approach:
    • Create an attractive home for AstraZeneca
    • Address the existing traffic issues and future traffic issues related to future development.
    • Create a signature open space for the area and state that is a vital part of the State's plan.
    Mr. Minott referenced the recently completed Route 141 improvement project and its positive effect on the area. The redevelopment of the Blue Ball properties will continue this tradition of design excellence and commitment from the State to this master plan. He noted that the focus of the Blue Ball Master Plan encompasses approximately 215 acres on two sites just south of the AstraZeneca expansion site but is coordinating with AstraZeneca to create an overall plan that is mutually reinforcing and beneficial to the area. He also noted that this is a multi-year project but the bulk of the work will take place in the first year and a half. Mr. Minott then introduced James P. Lisa, Jr., Project Manager for the Blue Ball Master Plan from the Delaware Economic Development Office.
  2. Organization of Master Plan Efforts
    Jim Lisa discussed the organizational structure of the Blue Ball Master Plan. The Governor and the New Castle County Executive will provide leadership. An Executive Committee, chaired by Mr. Minott, is charged with the responsibility of completing the Master Plan for the Blue Ball Properties. A Project Policy Committee, comprised of state and local elected officials, is responsible for establishing general policy directions for development of the Master Plan and advising and consulting with the Executive Committee and Leadership Group.
    The primary working groups throughout the process consist of two committees and a coordination group. The Transportation Technical Committee and the Recreation and Historic Preservation Technical Committees are comprised of representatives from agencies, stakeholders and citizens groups with interest and/or expertise in a particular aspect of the Master Plan. They are charged with assisting the Leadership Group, Executive Committee and Master Plan team to achieve the goals and schedule of the Master Plan by discussing issues, reviewing the work of the Master Plan team, and offering comments and suggestions. The Technical Coordination Group, directed by Jim Lisa, is comprised of the Chairs of the other two groups, Bill Rhodunda of New Castle County and representatives from AstraZeneca. It will be responsible for the coordination of the technical work of the consultant team, the Technical Committees and the AstraZeneca Planning Committee. These groups will work with the lead consultants, Wallace Roberts & Todd and their sub-contractors, and report to an Executive Committee chaired by Darrell Minott.
  3. Master Plan Schedule
    Mr. Lisa also described the schedule for the Master Plan. The Transportation Committee and Recreation and Historic Preservation Committee will meet twice a month. These meetings are open to the public. The Technical Coordination Group will also meet twice a month and once a month there will be a Town Meeting to enable public feedback. In addition, a public relations campaign will be put in place to disseminate information about the project as well as a project web site to elicit public reaction and comments.
  4. Planning Consultant
    Mr. Lisa then introduced the lead consultants, Wallace Roberts and Todd. He noted that the consultants were instructed to begin the process with a clean slate and to create a Master Plan that will be implemented in the short-term.
    Bill Roberts, partner and co-founder of Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), introduced WRT as a multi-disciplinary firm that included Landscape Architecture. Environmental Planning, Planning, Urban Design and Architecture. WRT has worked on many projects in Delaware and in Wilmington. WRT has also worked with the National Parks Service and was responsible for the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.
  5. Status of Early Data Collection
    John Beckman of WRT described the information currently gathered in creating a base for the area. He noted that although a comprehensive base does not exist for the area, WRT is currently working to create one from a variety of sources including DelDOT road s, US Geological Survey s, aerial photography and others. This will serve as the base information until November when new aerial photography can be taken without the interference of leaves and ground cover to produce an accurate of the topography of the area. John also presented an aerial photograph that WRT used to highlight some surrounding uses and their understanding of the area to date.
  6. Committee Orientation
    Mark Chura, Chair of the Recreation and Historic Preservation Committee, introduced his role in the project and stated that the Committee intends to have concepts for the sites in place by mid-October. Specifically, with relation to this project, Mr. Chura stated four goals for the Committee:
    • Preserve and design open space as signature spaces for the State of Delaware.
    • Address the ongoing recreation needs of the local communities.
    • Provide a means of reusing the historic structures in the area.
    • Establish connections for Greenways and bicycle paths.
    Mr. Chura noted that a bond bill was approved to buy land and provide the economic incentive package for AstraZeneca. He noted that this project will happen and it is the job of the Recreation & Historic Preservation Committee to ensure the objectives listed above are carried through the design and planning process.
  7. Status of Early Data Collection
    John Beckman of WRT described the information currently gathered in creating a base for the area. He noted that although a comprehensive base does not exist for the area, WRT is currently working to create one from a variety of sources including DelDOT road s, US Geological Survey s, aerial photography and others. This will serve as the base information until November when new aerial photography can be taken without the interference of leaves and ground cover to produce an accurate of the topography of the area. John also presented an aerial photograph that WRT used to highlight some surrounding uses and their understanding of the area to date. Mr. Chura noted that an easement for a pathway through Alapocas woods will come through a settlement with the landowners and that the specific alignment for the path itself has been agreed upon. Bob Weiner mentioned that the Soil Conservation Service has topographic information for the Rockland Golf Course.
  8. Site Issues and Visioning
    Bill Roberts then invited those in attendance to list the transportation issues important to address in this Master Plan. He noted that after the list was developed, WRT would give Committee members red dots to use as currency to mark the issues they determined to be most important. This system is not used for determining a primary direction in the design and planning for the sites but only for the consultants to gauge the relative importance of issues as perceived by State and County representatives and local residents at this time. Following are the issues mentioned by those in attendance. The discussion began with several issues cited by Bob Wiener. Bolded items are those that received the prominent amount of dots. Bill Roberts then invited those in attendance to list the issues they view as important to address in this Master Plan. He noted that after the list was developed, WRT would give Committee members red dots to use as currency to mark the issues they determined to be most important. This system is not used for determining a primary direction in the design and planning for the sites but for the consultants to gauge the relative importance of issues as perceived by State and County representatives and local residents at this time. Following are the issues mentioned by those in attendance. The discussion began with several issues cited by Bob Wiener. Bolded items are those that received the largest number of dots.
    • Porter Reservoir - enlarge to encompass underground storage tank
    • Weldin Road - re-route road along top of Blue Ball property to enable more contiguous open space
    • Integrate Skating Club expansion plans
    • Maximize active recreation components - soccer, baseball, tennis, field hockey, lacrosse, etc.
    • Consider moving all recreation components adjacent to Skating Club and Elks Club
    • Detention pond location
    • Connect greenway between sites via an underground crossing of 202
    • Consider Blue Ball Dairy Barn for reuse as either a golf club house, restaurant or for historic purposes
    • Provide for the Ronald McDonald House ten-year expansion plan
    • Need for pedestrian connections in the area particularly between the Ronald McDonald House and the DuPont Hospital
    • Restore historic resources including the Bird Husbands House, Weldin Husbands House and the Murphy House
    • Address wetlands mitigation
    • Need for utility access in and out of area
    • Potential use of storm water for golf course irrigation
    • Address access problems from 202 and 95 related to service vehicles (ambulances)
    • Address noise impacts
    • Design standards needed for area
    • Need for ownership and management responsibility plan
    • Identify origin/destination points for pedestrians and bicycles - everything must be designed for handicap accessibility
    • Address golf club house - expand existing course and add driving range
    • Preserve open space - need for passive open space
    Bob Wiener mentioned that there are a number of sources of information on traffic origins and destinations for the area and that WRT should review them for their analysis. Mr. Wiener also noted the importance of the site located along a National Greenways Route that extends from Florida to Maine and the possibilities for eco-tourism in the area.
  9. Next Steps
    • Meeting minutes will be forwarded as soon as possible.
    • The next meeting of the Recreation and Historic Preservation Committee is scheduled for September 8, 1999, at 7:30 AM, although future meetings will most likely be scheduled in the afternoons to enable the maximum number of people to attend.