Towne Point Elementary to be used for alliance’s recreational site

DOVER — While constructing an indoor recreational facility for Dover Park remains up in the air, members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) Social Action Committee and Capital School District — including Superintendent Dan Shelton — recently reached an agreement to utilize Towne Point Elementary School for after-school activities and programs.

Now, it’s up to the Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige, IMA Social Action chair, the Rev. Theodore Henderson, IMA president, Dover City Manager Donna Mitchell and Parks and Recreation Director Kirby Hudson to establish what kind of programming they should offer to residents of the city of Dover’s East Side.

Perhaps the biggest step for the IMA Social Action Committee took place this fall when it reached a five- to seven-year agreement with the Capital School District to use the facilities at Towne Point Elementary.

“We will be able to have programs and services and the public will be able to utilize it as well, free of cost, for up to nine o’clock, because of the fact that there is a custodian on site,” the Rev. Paige said.

“So, anything that will happen (for programming) will happen after school. That was the main result of that meeting.”

Mr. Shelton said the decision came as part of the district’s plan for its schools.

“As part of our community meetings and partnerships during our facility master planning and the referendum that followed we worked with the city, the Police Athletic League, DEMCO (Delaware Multicultural and Civic Organization), and eventually the IMA came to us after hearing about our ideas around ensuring our schools remain the center points of our community,” Mr. Shelton said.

The partnership stemmed from Col. Thomas Dix asking the Rev. Paige at a council Committee of the Whole meeting last September if the IMA Social Action Committee had reached out to the Capital School District about utilizing Towne Point Elementary.

Members of Dover City Council have been working on having a new indoor recreational facility constructed at Dover Park. A prior indoor facility at the park was demolished in 2014.

The Rev. Paige previously said that if the IMA were to be able to secure use of the elementary school, then she believed that a smaller indoor facility with restrooms would be enough for Dover Park visitors.

The park, the third largest in the city, is comprised of 28.2 wooded acres that includes softball fields, a playground, pavilions, basketball courts, tennis courts, disc golf and more.

Dover City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. has been a longtime proponent of having a new indoor recreational facility built at Dover Park. He thanked the Rev. Paige for her efforts in reaching an agreement with the Capital School District.

“I’m quite impressed to hear what you have accomplished in such a short period of time in regard to the outcome and results,” Councilman Sudler said. “I would like, if possible, to consider having some meetings regarding youth gang prevention.”

City Councilman Ralph Taylor also thanked the Rev. Paige and the IMA for their work and asked if they are limited to what they can do inside Towne Point Elementary when it comes to the gymnasium and cafeteria areas.

“Yes, we can use those areas,” Rev. Paige said. “In regard to the cafeteria, that area would be available after six o’clock because they already have programming in the cafeteria up until that time.”

The city’s 2015 Recreational Needs Assessment showed that as far as improvements at Dover Park, 50.15 percent of survey respondents said they would like to see indoor bathroom facilities at the park; 40.25 percent wanted a new indoor recreation center; and 41.49 percent would like to see a paved trail system for walking and jogging.

A new indoor facility is still on the horizon for Dover Park, however, the partnership between the IMA Social Action Committee and the Capital School District affords the city a little bit more time to try to address what size facility the park will need.

Mayor Robin Christiansen thanked everyone involved for coming together for residents of Dover’s East Side.

“I just wanted to commend (the Rev. Paige) on your efforts and I know Mr. (Toriano) Giddens is the principal (at Towne Point Elementary) and my wife teaches school there and they do have an underserved population at Towne Point Elementary School, as well as the communities that surround it.

“So I think it’s really terrific that they’ve extended some type of cooperative program that’s going to help the children in that community because a lot of the little folks who go to school there need some place to go and need some extra attention.”

Site for Dover dog park?

The city of Dover is ready to let the dogs out and has chosen Schutte Park as the future home of a dog park.

The project is still in its infancy and City Manager Donna Mitchell said grading is supposed to start on the dog park around October of this year.

“Back in October (2019) we met with Parks and Recreation staff and we laid out both master plans (Schutte and Dover Park) on a big table and we talked about where we could configure a dog park,” Mrs. Mitchell said.

“Staff is currently working on an architectural and engineer design (request for proposal) to get all the amenities for both parks that we want to implement. The smaller parks don’t have the land that we need for (a dog park) and the parking. Schutte Park seemed to be the most appropriate site to have it.”