Stormwater runoff problems in Dover’s Woodcrest addressed

DOVER — Next time officials gather with Woodcrest neighborhood residents at the waterhole, rancor won’t be joining them.

City of Dover council members have pledged to work in harmony with similarly committed Capital School District members regarding the stormwater management site near the old Dover High campus on Walker Road.

The school district retained biologist Todd Fritchman of Envirotech Environmental Consulting to evaluate the area that’s home to mosquitoes and various unwanted critters, and has been neglected since 2014 on a mostly unused 109-acre tract with vacated DHS buildings and facilities.

Interested parties met at City Hall last week and left with a new sense of teamwork and group solution mentality.

Councilman Roy E. Sudler said calling media members to the area last May to air concerns “maybe wasn’t the best approach at the time, but I wanted to exude the concerns that were coming from the residents.”

The councilman lauded Capital School Board member Sean P.M. Christiansen for going on a “fact finding mission” to clear confusion surrounding the area and establish a timeline for its creation and oversight.

“Sean Christensen and I made an official apology to one another through a handshake and pledged to move forward as one ☝force,” Councilman Sudler said. “It was totally unexpected and authentic.”

Additionally, the councilman said, Mayor Robin R. Christiansen was “on point” at the meeting.

“His questions and leadership in the matter unveiled and new kind of respect him as my mayor,” Councilman Sudler said.

Sean Christiansen said the city council and school board are tackling the issues with “open minds and open dialogue.

A wetland mitigation site is located near the entrance to the Woodcrest neighborhood
and former Dover High School campus on Walker Road.

“We all vow to do what’s best for the citizens of Dover, Capital school community and the residents of Woodcrest.”

Also attending was Capital School District Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton, School Board President John Martin, and members Ralph Taylor and Joan Engel.

“The entire Capital School Board should be extremely proud of their members that attended the meeting last night for they all were very professional and well prepared,” said Mr. Sudler, who was joined at the meeting by fellow council member David Anderson.

“Everyone brought their ‘A’ game. “

Mr. Christiansen said he filed two Freedom of Information Act requests with the city and found that the municipality in the mid-1980s had enclosed a ditch between Walker Road and Woodcrest Drive as part of a bond referendum.

He also found that the purpose of the site is to weed out material before it drains into Silver Lake on its eventual way to the Delaware Bay.

Formulating a plan

Mr. Fritchman is expected to formulate a plan to address issues at the site. Officials are encouraging nearby residents to have a say in the improvements, and Mr. Christiansen said they will have a choice of certain plants that will be added for ecological value.

Woodcrest resident John Parker has lived in the vicinity just over four decades and described the site as a “blight on the neighborhood.

“Like many things in life it’s easier to get into than get out of,” he said.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time but as time went on things did not go as planned. It seems impossible to get out of and some of us were uneasy that we may be stuck with it for awhile.”

Mr. Parker described the area as a “stagnant pond that’s a breeding ground for who knows what – snakes, mosquitoes, and other critters we sure don’t need.”

With two middle schools coming to the area, state Rep. Sean Lynn wants to see how they fit into the landscape before potentially decisions on full scale restoration, filling in the area and/or moving the site.

Rep. Lynn is seeking a capital improvement proposal from the school district before seeking funds to assure “it’s going to be the best use of taxpayer money.”

According to Councilman Sudler, “Sean Lynn demonstrated why he is our 31st District Representative. Lynn brought balance, resources, and a keen notions of how we can get this task accomplished together.”

Chair of the City Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee Councilman Brian E. Lewis said the meeting “was amicable with the main objective being to assist those members of the community who are directly affected by the issue the best way possible.

“I still believe there are some underlying safety and health concerns with respect to the retention pond/water drainage which I’m confident will be addressed in the very near future.

“The important factor at this juncture is we are all working together towards a solution.”

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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