What ideas could Dover glean from ‘Our City Reading’?

This sculpture, a 13-foot quill and cube, was commissioned in 1987 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Delaware’s ratification of the Constitution. It is located on the corner of South State and North streets in Dover. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER – Some notes and quotes between headlines, deadlines and fault lines …


Last week’s column featured the story of the late Al Boscov, as told by friends, family and his department store’s people.

An interesting aspect of his legacy is Our City Reading, Inc., a nonprofit he founded, to revitalize the city, once home to hundreds of manufacturers.

Some of the challenges and opportunities in Reading, Mr. Boscov’s hometown and the headquarters of his chain of stores, seem like they would be worth discussing right here in Dover, Delaware.

As stated on its website, the mission of Our City Reading is: to create pride and stability through home ownership to Reading’s first time homebuyers; to bring new high-quality job opportunities to the area; and to enhance the quality of life for city and surrounding community residents.

The new book — “Did You Boscov Today?” — has a chapter by Reading Mayor Tom McMahon who recalled the nonprofit’s start in 2000.

“One of the most successful programs that his nonprofit promoted was a home ownership initiative for first-time home buyers,” Mr. McMahon wrote. “Too often slumlords charge high rents, resulting in families abandoning their residences. Our City Reading sought to make home ownership affordable and a point of pride and stability for the city. From 2000 to 2017, Our City Reading remodeled 575 abandoned homes for first-time home buyers. The houses Albert got came to us through HUD for a dollar or for half of their evaluation. They generally were a mess but Albert could see past the trash to their potential.”

Mr. Boscov brought government entities, bankers and local building contractors together to make it happen.

“The philosophy he had is that everyone do their small part and we can succeed together,” said Mr. Boscov’s grandson Josh Aichenbaum. “It goes back to a lesson in the book, success is never one person.”

Home ownership, of course, has been a major concern in the city of Dover and one outlined as a high priority in the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor (NCALL) initiative, Restoring Central Dover.

Also in the Restoring Central Dover report was a focus on the arts. Here, it has been interesting to follow the

The ratification words of the Delaware assembly and the delegates who unanimously approved it are on a plaque on a wall next to the sculpture.

discussions on the future of the Schwartz Center for the Arts, which recently went dark due to financial issues.

In 2005, Our City Reading opened an art center — GoggleWorks — in what had been an old eyeglass factory.

“The GoggleWorks offers the community an opportunity to learn about the arts in a working studio environment, and gives the entire city a vitality it did not have previously,” Our City Reading’s website said.

Mr. Boscov’s grandson is a filmmaker who was able to debut his work, “Mr. and Mrs. Kim” at the Reading Film Festival at GoggleWorks.

Mr. Boscov and his wife, Eunice, both loved the arts.

“Our family is very creative,” said Mr. Aichenbaum. “That love of art and creativity is part of what drove him to create this arts center. People want to be entertained and they want to have a good time and a reason to come into the city. The arts center helps bring people in.”

There were other economic development projects, including a new banking center and a five-star convention hotel, that came with the Reading revitalization efforts.

You can read more about the revitalization efforts at Ourcityreading.org.

So, what do our Dover leaders and readers think about those initiatives?

Are there significant parallels here? What are our opportunities?

We would love to open our opinion pages to a robust discussion about Dover’s potential.

Send me an email at awest@newszap.com with your ideas.


Thursday evening’s earthquake certainly was weird.

In the newsroom of the Delaware State News, it sounded like something struck the building — big time, and the place really rumbled. Since we’re neighbors to the Dover Air Force Base, our immediate thoughts went there.

A quick walk outside revealed only quiet, and then we soon got the news from U.S. Geological Survey of the quake. Its center was just north of Little Creek in a marshy area.

As you might guess, the people of California had quite a laugh at Delaware’s scare.

A headline on the San Diego Union Tribune website read, “Delaware hit with rare 4.1 earthquake. Californians just HAD to say something about it.”

And then it went on to include all the snarky West Coast social media comments.

One from Keith Olberman read, “As any of us who ever lived in LA will tell you: a 4.4? That was not an earthquake. That was a sneeze.”

Now that we’ve straightened our picture frames, everything’s pretty much back to normal and we may not experience another one for many years.

According to the Delaware Geological Survey, Delaware has had 69 documented earthquakes since 1871. There was only one other in Kent County and that was in 1879.


In advance of Thursday, happy Delaware Day to our readers.

We became the First State on Dec. 7, 1787, when our delegates ratified the Constitution at Battell’s Tavern on the corner of The Green in Dover.

If you wish to have a quiet moment of reflection on this moment in history, you might want to visit Constitution Park on the corner of South State and North streets, about a block away from where the tavern was.

There you’ll find a sculpture, featuring a 13-foot bronze quill feather aside a stainless steel cube with the words of the Constitution. The nib of the quill points to Delaware.

A wall around it features the names of the 13 original states.

The park was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1988.


One of the new initiatives of the Delaware State News is a newsletter that we send out daily via email.

The free newsletter contains a quick review of the day’s top headlines and links to the stories and more on our website.

You can register to receive it at delawarestatenews.net/newsletters.

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