Broken fence replaced at site of Dover shooting

Bobby Wilson, left, is pictured with City of Dover Code Enforcement Officer Jared Boesenberg and 4th District Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. late Monday afternoon before a trampled down fence is replaced near an alleyway and daycare center playground between the 100 block of South New Street and 100 block of South Governors Avenue. (Delaware State News photos by Craig Anderson)

Bobby Wilson, left, is pictured with City of Dover Code Enforcement Officer Jared Boesenberg and 4th District Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. late Monday afternoon before a trampled down fence is replaced near an alleyway and daycare center playground between the 100 block of South New Street and 100 block of South Governors Avenue. (Delaware State News photos by Craig Anderson)

DOVER — Bobby Wilson described the 10 hours he spent working the phones Monday as “exhausting.”

Ultimately, however, his efforts were rewarded with a little stretch of urban renewal.

The lifelong Dover resident’s persistence spurred the city to replace a trampled down section of chain link fence used as a pathway during a police-involved shooting last Friday afternoon that wounded a 21-year-old city man.

After praying on the matter all weekend, Mr. Wilson said he began making calls at 9 a.m. in an attempt to get the broken fence next to a day care playground fixed.

The broken fence allowed folks to regularly walk through an alleyway and residential backyard connecting South New Street and South Governors Avenue.

Pictured on Tuesday morning is a replacement fence installed near a daycare center playground in the 100 block of South Governors Avenue..

Pictured on Tuesday morning is a replacement fence installed near a daycare center playground in the 100 block of South Governors Avenue..

First contact came with the Downtown Dover Partnership that owns the property where the Kent Community Action Agency Inc. is located. Mr. Wilson was concerned that the broken fence’s close proximity to the day care’s playground was putting kids at risk, or at least causing them to “see things that they shouldn’t see going on back there.”

Mr. Wilson followed up with city of Dover officials to express his concerns, along with 4th District Councilman Roy Sudler Jr.

“This was something that needed to be taken care of today, not tomorrow or next week,” he said. “Everyone’s first priority should be assuring the safety of children, and that’s not something that can wait.

“Children’s lives matter. If your child was at that daycare, how quickly would you want to get it taken care of?”

By approximately 4 p.m. Monday, City Code Enforcement Officer Jared Boesenberg had arrived, and discussed options with a contracted fence builder. A stretch of new fence reportedly was tied into the existing structure within three hours.

Mr. Boesenberg said that fixing the fence was on the city’s to-do list prior to the shooting, but did not know when it was slated for service.

“This is one of many projects that are going on,” he said.

Swift action taken

Whatever the priority, the fact was that the fence issue was addressed on Monday as city officials moved swiftly to take action on it.

“It was something good to see — that the city did see the urgency to move on it,” Mr. Wilson said. “Thank God the

Late Monday afternoon, City of Dover Code Enforcement Officer Jared Boesenberg discusses options for replacement fencing in the 100 block of South Governors Avenue.

Late Monday afternoon, City of Dover Code Enforcement Officer Jared Boesenberg discusses options for replacement fencing in the 100 block of South Governors Avenue.

city stepped up.”

Echoed Mr. Sudler, “The city hopped right on it and I’m pretty proud of them. This is a case of being able to identify and then rectify a situation as soon as possible.”

Mr. Sudler said the fence was just a temporary fix, and he would consult KCAA Executive Director Sarah Butler “to see what she wants done, then collaborate with the appropriate entities to construct something that is compatible with her wishes.”

Surveying the scene on Monday, Mr. Wilson expressed hope for a tall fence that would block the playground’s view of the backyard on the other side.

The councilman described the project as “part of public safety, which is our first priority.”

Said Mr. Wilson, “Ms. Butler has been in the community for over 43 years educating our children. We have to help her.”

The broken fence has been an issue for years, Ms. Butler said, and fixed two to three times, it was knocked down again and again. While she was pleased with the replacement, she said “it’s going to take more than a wire fence.”

Toward the playground

Ripe with sage wisdom after more than 40 years in the child care business, Ms. Butler said the broken fence allowed a fleeing man to continue toward a playground and parking lot. It was there, where he was shot by a member of the Dover Police Department Street Crimes Unit.

“If that fence had been up it wouldn’t have happened like it did,” Ms. Butler said.

The fence was trampled down and “(the incident) was going right toward my playground.”

Fortunately, the 65 children at the day care were in nap time as the incident unfolded outside. By the time backpack-wearing school-age children were later dropped off by a bus and entered the daycare, the scene had been secured by law enforcement.

In the shooting’s aftermath, Ms. Butler said parents expressed distress about the broken fence’s location.

“They are concerned about what I’m concerned about — the fence is too close to my playground,” she said.

After the fence was erected, Mr. Wilson said he had hope that this could be the first of many steps taken to revitalized Dover’s downtown area.

“This could be the beginning of something down there,” he said. “If there’s going to be economic development that brings jobs and offers people opportunities, then the city has to invest in the area.”

Mr. Wilson said a prayer vigil was scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the fence site.

At a Downtown Dover Partnership Parking Committee meeting, the broken fence was discussed, and officials will continue to determine what to do next.

“We talked briefly about other fence options, but there was nothing definitive,” City of Dover Director of Planning Ann Marie Townshend said. “I expect we will continue to evaluate how we address it long term.”

Early Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Townshend said she was unaware of the repair costs, and that the Downtown Dover Partnership will pay for the replacement on its property.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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