The new park is one of three park renovations underway in Wilmington’s West Side. These projects used a unique resident-driven community development process, in partnership with the city, state and federal governments, which is helping to rebuild the West Side community from within.
The new $215,000 Fourth Street Park project included the removal of all paving, play equipment and fencing and the installation of new play equipment, exercise pathways, benches, picnic areas and colorful poured-in-place playground surfacing.
Below is an excerpt from WilmingtonDE.gov
How Community Involvement Produced Success
By Sarah Lester, Cornerstone West CDC Director
Five years ago, 650 West Side residents identified improving neighborhood parks and green spaces were one of their top priorities as the residents took part in developing the West Side Revitalization Plan. This plan was developed by Cornerstone West CDC with multi-year support from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to promote resident-driven comprehensive community development. The plan focused on the City’s Hilltop, Cool Spring and Little Italy Neighborhoods. According to West Side Grows Together Steering Committee President, Henry Smith III, “The defining principle of the West Side Plan is that residents themselves guide the vision for the future of their neighborhoods, take part in making that vision a reality, and benefit from improvements.”
“It is very exciting to see the resident’s vision coming to fruition” said Denise McGregor Armbrister, Executive Director of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. “Through the leadership of West Side Grows, the neighborhood is seeing an increase in safe spaces for children and families to grow and play, and that matters.”
27 West Side civic associations, community organizations, churches and business are working together through a network known as West Side Grows Together to make the vision outlined in the West Side plan a reality. The City of Wilmington has forged an innovative partnership with this network that builds on the power of engaged residents to leverage community, foundation, state and federal reinvestment in Wilmington’s neighborhoods.
Once parks were identified as a high priority in the West Side Plan, residents organized Friends of Parks groups to focus on park improvements, beginning with clean-ups to improve the condition of their parks. They worked with the Wilmington Police and Department of Parks and Recreation on having new lighting installed and trees trimmed to make the parks less inviting for activities that undermined the quality of neighborhood life. The Friends groups also held, picnics, and seasonal activities as a way to get more people involved from the community.
The City of Wilmington committed funding to renovate three parks—Connell Street Park at 3rd and Connell, Fourth Street Park at Fourth and Rodney, and Father Tucker Park at Howland and Scott in the West Side. The City’s Department of Urban Planning and Design formed a partnership with the community and signed an MOU with the Friends of Parks to develop designs for the new playgrounds. Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control made an early investment that enabled the Friends of Parks to hire a landscape design firm which engaged over 100 local residents in a Community Playground Design Project. “These parks are perfect examples of community and government partnerships,” said 7th District Council Member Robert Williams. “The community spoke, government listened, and together we achieved a safe and welcoming play space.”
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