A meeting place for the community: Clayton to get new clock, ‘pocket park’

Eric Young poses with a miniature replica of the soon-to-be-manufactured 16-foot Clayton clock in the ‘pocket park’ on Main Street and South Bassett Street where it will eventually stand. Mr. Young pitched the idea for the decorative clock to the Clayton economic development committee about three years ago. Delaware State News/Ian Gronau

CLAYTON — After three years of planning and fundraising, Clayton’s three-person economic development committee is on the cusp of placing a 16-foot, 4-face decorative Verdin clock in a new “pocket park” at the intersection of Main Street and South Bassett Street.

The brainchild of local Air National Guardsman and committee member Eric Young, he hopes the clock will attract interest in the small town’s fledgling business district and provide an aesthetically pleasing meeting place for the community.

“Clayton is a small town and lots of the tax revenue goes toward police patrols and just keeping things fixed, so as an economic committee, we just wanted to do something to get some things happening and draw a little attention,” he said. “And honestly, these clocks just look really cool — so we went for it.”

Clayton councilman William “Skip” Carrow, who started the economic committee, says the group went to work raising funds privately at first, but a recent injection of state funds pushed them over the finish line.

“We initially talked to the clock company to get a ballpark price and started fundraising toward that $26,500 goal,” he said. “We were able to raise almost $5,000 from local businesses and private donors before things started slowing down a little. So we started a conversation with Rep. William Carson and Sen. Bruce Ennis and they were able to put some funding into the 2020 bond bill to help us reach our total goal for the entire project.”

The full project now includes the cost of constructing the small park that Mr. Carrow says will include brick walkways, park benches, flower beds and a gazebo at a total value of about $52,000 (including the cost of the clock).

“Edward Ide, who’s also on the committee, has an engineering firm so he helped design the pocket park that will go with the clock and sort of highlight the whole area — the historical marker has been in that spot for many years so it’ll also incorporate that,” said Mr. Carrow. “We wouldn’t have been able to get it done without the help of the state funds because Clayton is a small town with only about 3,500 people, so fundraising can be tricky.”

Despite reaching their funding goal, Mr. Carrow says the project is still accepting donations to put additional amenities in the park. Their fundraiser offers incentives such as including the donor’s name on a plaque that will be affixed to the base of the clock and the chance to own small miniature replicas of the new Clayton clock.

Though the town has agreed to take on maintenance of the park once it’s complete, additional donations will be put in a fund to help support that effort. Interested donors can contact Mr. Carrow directly at skip4515@yahoo.com.

Waiting on a final acknowledgment from DelDOT, Mr. Carrow says he expects to submit the order to the clock manufacturer sometime in the coming weeks.

“We’re expecting to do it as soon as we get the final approvals from the state,” he said. “We’re told that it takes from 60 to 90 days to build the clock. It’s what’s called a Howard replica. It’ll be black wrought iron, antique-looking with gold lettering that says Clayton on each face. The faces are back-lit too.”

The committee plans to have the park fully prepared before the clock is delivered.

“We’ll work with a local contractor to do all the site work in advance,” said Mr. Carrow. “We have to have the electric run and a base built for the clock.”

An engineering schematic outlining the design of the new ‘pocket park’ and Clayton clock base. Submitted graphic

If all goes according to plan, the committee hopes the project will be completed by late fall/early winter.

“I would really like to have everything in place and finished before the holiday season,” said Mr. Carrow. “In early December, we have a few events in Clayton for the holidays. The first Sunday in December is when we have the Christmas parade and the Clayton Historical Society has a Christmas in Clayton Day. It’d be nice to have it be done by then. We’ll have the big pine tree there decorated and maybe we can bring Santa in for the kids — it’ll be a really nice community spot for everyone to enjoy.”

For more information and to follow updates, search “Clayton clock project” on Facebook.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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