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  • Nathan Field

11 Neighborhood Improvement Projects to Build On

Updated: 4 days ago

Building stronger and more connected communities through fun neighborhood projects has been a key focus as the 8th District's city council representative. Here are eleven initiatives I've worked on from 2021-2024 that I hope to expand upon if reelected to a 2nd term.

(1) Winter Lights: New Tradition at Rockford Tower Paris lights up the Eiffel Tower at night. Delaware beaches do the same with their World War Two watch towers. Why shouldn't Wilmington do something similar with our most iconic landmark? In winter 2022, for the first time in its 107 year history Rockford Tower was illuminated at night. Visible from miles away, it added new excitement and pride about living in the City of Wilmington.

The following year in 2023, several neighbors took the lead in expanding the tradition with a "kickoff event" illustrating that pride and community spirit. Over seven hundred people gathered for the Festival, with a band, food trucks, lots of local artists and of course, the official lighting of the Tower for the season.

I look forward to many more "Kick Off events" that bring the community together to celebrate the coming of winter, in such a fun way.

(2) Fighting for Seniors - Getting the Mail Box Moved Back The 8th District is home to five senior living facilities and I've worked hard to represent them. In fact, my proudest accomplishment in four years on council was solving a problem that had been a major source of frustration for the residents of Luther Towers II.

During maintenance work, a few years before, the mailbox at the building entrance was moved several blocks away. It was never returned to the original location. For the many Luther residents who use wheel chairs or walkers, that distance was a challenge and deeply frustrating.

I quickly set about figuring out how to get the mailbox moved. I got in touch with the head of the Postal Workers Union. He connected me to the Senior Postal Service manager for the Wilmington Area. After some back and forth, the Post Office agreed to relocate the box.

I will continue to fight hard and work the system whenever necessary on behalf of the seniors living at Luther and Lincoln Towers, Ingleside and Rodney Court.

(3) Keeping You Highly Informed - Bi Monthly Newsletter

Good governance depends upon a robust flow of information.

Every two months I sit down and write an update (see all 24 newsletters here) on the most important issues facing our neighborhoods, which I deliver by email, regular mail, or drop off in person. If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive future updates, please just let me know via email or text.

(4) Creating New Chapter for 153 year old Soldiers and Sailors Monument

For seven generations, city residents have gathered here to honor Wilmingtonians who died fighting for their country, from the Civil War through the present. As with Rockford Tower, Soldiers and Sailors was dark at night. Walking past, you wouldn't even know it was there.

I worked closely with Lenny Sophrin of the City Parks Department to install "uplighting." The lights went on in March of this year. This gave the park some new stature and added an exciting new "buzz" to the neighborhood. I am equally commited to making Soldiers and Sailors a great place to gather by day. This is a perfect urban park for socializing and relaxing. I am working with the Parks Department, the Memorial Day Parade Committee, and nearby neighbors to see consistent maintenance throughout the year.

One way to do that is with two to three community cleanups per year, to build up more community engagement with the park.

(5) Trolley Square Utility Box Project As of 2022, utlity boxes spread throughout the Delaware Avenue corridor were - unslightly to say the least. This was a typical scene:

After talking with Lisa Johnson, the President of the Delaware Avenue Community Association, we decided to change this. We identified 18 boxes and commissioned local artists to paint uplifting murals to add new character to the neighborhood. Two of the "After" -

There are lots of opportunities to expand this in the future.

(6) Lilipad Lane - turning a 14th St eye sore into an artistic attraction

The grafittii covered wall between ACME and Kid Sheleens was not reflecting well on our neighborhood. Hundreds of people walk past every day and thousands drive past and saw this:

Why not change this?

In Spring 2023, I recruited neighborhood artist Rachel van Wylen and several neighbors to come up with a Lilipad/pond design.

Here is the finished project:

There are many lessons from "Lilipad Lane" that can be applied to neighborhood beautifcation projects in and around the 8th District or city wide. Such as:

  • Key changes don't have to be complicated

  • It took five minutes by email to get permission

  • Total cost was $3,000

Other council members and members from neighborhood associations around the city have reached out, and I've been happy to share any and all "lessons learned" to see more projects like this city-wide.

(7) Supporting the world class Art Museum in our backyard

How many cities can say they have a museum like the DAM?

I have been so pleased to have worked together with the Art Museum on numerous projects this term, but I've tried to focus especially on one key area: - How can we introduce the Art Museum to the great many newcomers who have moved to Wilmington from out of state?

One such project was "Nature's Pallet":

Working with the Museum President Molly Giordano, we came up with the idea of placing murals of key paintings from the museum collection around the 8th District to draw people to the museum while also adding a new creative vibe to neighborhoods:

Another key promotional project to market the local Art Scene, was sponsoring billboards at key intersections:

Everyone leaging Incyte Campus and driving past the intersection of Augustive Cutoff at 18th St saw this billboard - not bad for about $1,000 In a second term, I will engage in similar creative ways to support any and all local art exhibits or cultural events by local groups. Fifty new people at an event that wouldn't otherwise know about it, makes a major difference!

(8) Nothing Builds Community Like Neighborhood Cleanup Projects

One such project was an impromptu cleanup of Brandywine Park after a major flood in 2021, with 50 neighbors coming out to help on short notice.

They are fun, bring people together to make the city better, and I look forward to many more of these.

(9) Promoting Pride in Wilmington's History

As an old city, dating to the 1600s, Wilmington has a fascinating history. Promoting this is a key way to develop our own unique niche as a destination.

I was proud to have played a role in driving forward two projects in this regard:

Creating a neighborhood history display on the Delaware Avenue Bus Stop

This intersection used to look much different than it does today with a train station design by famous architect Frank Furness, a trolley barn and a park and was arguable the central transportation hub in the entire state. Yet now featured a non-descript bus stop that added little to the "streetscape." For those walking past, had no idea about the long history of this area.

Wiith great input from Tommy Gears, John Medkeff Jr and Jim Tevebaugh I convinced DART to put up a display that we designed on the back of the bus stop on Delaware Avenue at Dupont St. The display has pictures and information about the historic buildings that used to be located at this intersection, promoting more of a sense of unique neighborhood character.

Restoring Historic Marker to add to Brandywine Park

From the 1930s through the 1990s, there was a historic marker on Lovering Avenue, telling the story of how George Washington's forces camped here for several months during a key period of the American War of Independence. It dispeared during the 1990s and was never replaced. Two local history lovers, Vince Watchorn and Scott Reese, initiated a campaign to get them replaced.

I was more than happy to jump in and expedite the process of getting it replaced. Equally important, we got the state of Delaware to move the plaque about 200 feet to place it at the entrance to the park, so that more people will see it, while being historically accurate.

(10) Adding New Benches in Brandywine Park to add to its city feel Benches - when well placed - can connect community members and create a sense of place. I was happy to work with the City Parks department to place two benches at the Gil[in Avenue entrance to form a more natural gateway:

The bench is situated to encourage people to meet friends, relax after a workout, or simply people watch.

(11) Restoring the "Mill Road" Connector Trail

Sometime in the 1800s, a path was built along the Brandywine for workers to walk to their homes in neighborhoods such as Forty Acres to the many factories along the River.

Overtime, with the closure of the Bancroft Mills factory, the trail lost its original purpose and fell into disrepair, with leaves and dirt clogging the trail, and fallen trees blocking the path. Yet with the construction of 345 apartments at The Falls, there are nearly 700 residents now living here. I worked closely with the City to restore the trail for modern purposes.

The final construction will begin in mid-May and will take a month or so, connecting the trail to the staircase at 3 Mill Road. The project adds a major new perk to City living. It gives a major new option for people wanting to bike or walk to walk to the offices downtown to do so without having to compete with cars. It also simply reopens prime park real estate back to public use.

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