Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Senator Townsend and Cohorts Say No "Naturehood" for Ogletown

Governor Ruth Ann Minner at Newark's Community Day, 2004
By Angela Connolly | Livable Delaware was the signature initiative of Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s first term. It was a sustainable land-use agenda that promoted thoughtful growth. She stated that "We need to pursue a strategy that will keep sprawl in check, reduce traffic congestion, strengthen our towns and cities, and protect our huge investment in roads, schools and other infrastructure. I propose to call it “Livable Delaware.”

This Democrat initiative SHOULD have been honored and followed. But in the years since its inception, "Livable Delaware" has become a farce and a joke for many Delawareans, particularly in New Castle County. We continue to watch helplessly as Democratic leadership casts Environmental stewardship aside. Advocates and Environmentalists watched helplessly as, with the stroke of a pen, HB-190 was signed into law. This bill was created by Democratic Legislators Townsend and Osienski, and was signed into law by current Gov John Carney. It lifts the Coastal Zone protections put into place by former Governor Russell Peterson (R) in 1971. Destruction of natural lands (not channeled to redevelopment) continues unabated under Democrat's leadership. Residents near new housing construction are seeing an unprecedented number of dead wildlife, killed by cars as they flee the destruction of their habitat homes. It is even more offensive when these new developments are sold to NCC Council as walkable/bikeable, because a few asphalt pathways are included, and thus it will "reduce car trips".

Perhaps most tragic is when a handful of people, in this case the Legislators, recklessly decide a future course dictated by profiteering, that will negatively impact generations to come. Senator Bryan Townsend, Rep Ed Osienski, Councilwoman Lisa Diller, and, later in the game, County Exec Matt Meyer are prime examples. These four alone are directly responsible for selling out a major carbon-sequestering natural habitat area in Ogletown, 180 acres of forests, fields and wetlands that was filled with wildlife -- some of which is endangered. They decided through their failure to save this land for a pittance -- the last of its kind for an entire region -- that the people of Ogletown-S. Newark and the larger surrounding area were not worthy of a "Naturehood" of their own. These residents didn't deserve a place to build community, to engage in healthy activities, and to enjoy stunning views of Iron Hill -- things that only a Regional Park at this location could have offered. No. Instead, by their own admission, they kept the development secret for the first two years they learned of it, lying, and bungling every opportunity that was presented to them since -- up to and including the time when the Developers themselves were willing to sit down, listen to and consider a deal that could have saved the land.

This billboard "Every Neighborhood has a Naturehood" spent months posted up on Marrows Road in Newark, adjacent to Kimberton. It was recently replaced, and it should be given our legislator's utter lack of concern for land conservation.

, the next time you hear Democrats like Senator Townsend, Representative Osienski, Councilwoman Lisa Diller, and County Exec Matt Meyer talking about how bad Trump and the Republicans are on Environmental issues, don't believe them. Remember it is THEY -- Democrats -- who are responsible for the loss of this open space, critical habitat and regional park opportunity, along with so many others like it that are being obliterated as we speak.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DE for Retirement and Quality of Life: FAIL, thanks to Townsend and Cohorts

Articles are plastered all over the internet show that, time and time again, Delaware is not a recommended place to retire or to expect a high quality of life. It is the second smallest State next to Rhode Island, and the 4th most corrupt State next to Wyoming, where corrupt Democrats massively subsidize business interests and relax corporate laws to attract major companies to relocate here. This is probably the only reason that more people aren't fleeing Delaware, unlike other States with well-established quality of life issues.

That Senator Bryan Townsend and his Democratic legislative minions refuse to care about quality of life in "The 1st State" anytime it favors big business couldn't be more readily apparent. They'll even go so far as to tear down the environmental legacy of past govt officials and legislators, and aid and abet land-use profiteers (developers) in all manner of secrecy. They crush, and then laugh at citizen-led grassroots campaigns aimed at improving DE's socio-economic status and thus making the State a healthier and more attractive place to live. Only some of these are highlighted on this website; there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar examples throughout DE's history. Today, these gross injustices are overwhelmingly spearheaded by Democrats -- the State's long time controlling political party. The result? If you're in any way progressive, Delaware is no place to live. Unless drawn for business purposes, and/or if you're desperate for a job in banking, pharma, or bio-tech, other States and areas of the U.S. are far more attractive.

... and not one of the country's top 25 best places to live is found in Delaware:

In matters of land-use, Delaware's corrupt legislators go around telling everyone that more suburban sprawl translates to more tax base, which in turn, produces a lower cost of living and thus higher quality of life. Not only is this argument fallacious, but cost of living is not the only concern for the State's residents and prospective residents. Studies like this one highlight the fiscal impacts of land uses on local governments, and that these lies come home to bite in nearly every case. Why? Because on average, each new dwelling unit (including in DE) costs $1.25 in required govt services for every $1 in new taxes generated. By design, the suburbs are a failed model; a failed living arrangement that costs govt more than any tax base can recoup. But you'll never hear Townsend, Rep Osienski, and their legislative allies ever discuss this, and what solutions exist (never mind propose) to bring livability and possibly retrofit said living arrangement.

In summary, Delaware - primarily New Castle County - will never rank among the most attractive places to live for reasons too numerous to list all of them here. But chief among the environmental causes are terrible driver behavior, deadly conditions for multi-modal roadway users, deafening vehicle noise, lack of place-makinglack of locally accessible regional parks, no dedicated open space funding, and deeply entrenched and notoriously corrupted County and State legislatures, This unattractive quality of life, at the hands of corporate greed and profiteering, will be these legislator's "legacy" -- their "gift" to future generations (including their own children) and there's little any of us citizens and Advocates can do to stop them.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Allentown goes for regional park on environmental and economic benefits

Cross-posted from Lehigh Valley Regional News  Because of corruption in DE govt al la Townsend, Osienski et al, this hope has been forever dashed in the entire Ogletown S. Newark region. But at least Allentown PA gets it where the value of parks and trail systems are concerned. 

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – An obscure tract of Allentown land may help boost the city's environment and economy.

Plans were unveiled Thursday at Allentown City Hall for Auburn Cross Trails Park, covering about 32 acres of land bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Basin Street and Auburn Street. About two-thirds of the of land is owned by the Allentown Economic Development Corp. and would be used for manufacturing.

The proposal includes trails, open meadows, picnic areas, a dog park and places to fish. The big picture is to move toward connecting to existing trails in the city and the region. The site used to house Allentown's municipal incinerator, which closed decades ago.

"The plan can be broken up into manageable pieces," Chris Stanford of engineering firm Michael Baker International said.

That may be necessary, because the $1 million-plus needed for the park is not available yet, according to Karen El-Chaar, director of Allentown's parks and recreation department.

"This will probably be state-funded," she said, with the city contributing a small amount. [Full Article]

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Car-nage: HB-185 and Delaware's Walking Dead

Too bad Senator Townsend doesn't have his priorities straight when it comes to safety at the human scale. Delaware consistently leads the nation in walk-bike injuries and fatalities, but the Senator (District 11 and gunning for higher) doesn't care. Instead, he fights for, and passes HB-185, a bill to facilitate even greater speed and more driver aggression and reckless behavior.

Delaware is once again poised for a dismally high position -- if not taking the nation's top spot for walking fatalities again this year. Ditto for bicycling - in a runaway - but we will cover that in a future article. Here, in no particular order, we will examine what we believe are the top 5 reasons for why this is so and will likely never change under Delaware's thoroughly corrupted Democrat party leadership:

Even with a flashing beacon, motorists still have
the right of way to continue, at speed, through
DelDOT's crosswalks without penalty.
1) Motor vehicle right of way through crosswalks and intersections. Delaware gives motor vehicles priority and right of way through mid-block crosswalks and radial turns, and puts the onus on pedestrians to create his or her own opportunity to cross. This doesn't change even with DelDOT's flashing beacons installed at a few of them; peds are still sidelined, and must make the first move -- hoping cars will stop. In no way is this progressive or conducive to pedestrian safety, and is completely backwards in approach.

The way it should be. With a little enforcement.
Mass sees far greater compliance using this simple
sign than DE will ever see using beacons.
2) An antiquated traffic code for pedestrians. There are numerous discrepancies and problems that a complete overhaul of Delaware's vehicle code is LONG overdue. The language is so antiquated that it even includes a holiday as impacting where and how to enforce it, including "soliciting contributions shall not apply on the Saturday immediately prior to Father's Day". Advocates volunteered many hours of time and did an overhaul, presenting it in legislative bill form to Delaware's Pedestrian Council. Ultimately, the State's defacto walking advocacy org, Bike Delaware, infiltrated the Ped Council and quashed the effort.

Crosswalks through highway-speed kill zones.
3) Wide lanes, slip lanes, and unregulated radial turns that induce high speed and discourage defensive driving, even in known pedestrian hot spots. Instead of traditional crossroads, most of Delaware's suburban thoroughfares consist of radial turns to keep motor vehicles moving as quickly as possible through intersections. This seriously compromises pedestrian safety, since the beginning and end of the crosswalk is unregulated and never signalized. As they are induced to maintain speed, motorists seldom yield, and usually just barrel on through even when pedestrians are present. This is not at all conducive to pedestrian safety, and not only adds to the danger, it discourage walking in the first place.

Non-drivers will often create "goat paths", as
the State and its Counties will not seek out and
try and include these important connections
with area rehab & reconstruction projects.
4) Very few pathway facilities that make safe connections between existing communities, commerce, and civil services. Lack of connectivity in development codes, and an ignorance of livability concerns throughout most of Delaware's planning history have all but sealed the fate of its suburban dwellers. Bike Delaware at one time made mention that connectivity is their mission, which includes piecing together what few streets do connect to try and create low stress networks. But for the vast majority of disconnected and unincorporated suburbs, they have yet to demonstrate how interconnecting pathways can be added without violating private property rights and/or invoking imminent domain -- never mind the exorbitant costs involved. In the end, those walking and biking are inevitably forced out onto arterial roads and their high speed intersections to reach most destinations.

5) Very little police presence and law enforcement to begin with. It is no secret that the police in Delaware -- in particular State and County -- are either stretched way too thin or even working without a contract. In what's become a culture of "anything goes", progressive reforms that include, e.g. stronger crosswalk signage with actual fines posted will remain out of the question. Unless a rare sting, the police are never around to actually enforce it, except perhaps in court after an injury or fatality. It is not uncommon at all for residents in unincorporated areas to go weeks or months without seeing a squad car in their region. When everyone knows that they can stretch, bend or break even the most basic laws of civility and predictability, higher crash counts inevitably follow. While the actions of the pedestrian (or bicyclist) is always cited as contributing or not, a gross lack of defensive driving due to paltry driver education, no redundant education, and virtually no law enforcement is a far greater problem overall.

Summary: Though certainly not alone in this, Delaware's built environment is a microcosm of the death and carnage now accepted as "normal" in the U.S. -- normal by placing motor vehicle traffic at human scale. Earlier govt planners, engineers and architects foisted this upon us by trashing livability in favor of "Stroads" that incorporate driveways, streets, parking lots, etc as directly connected to highways. Post WW2 design should have included frontage, service, and ring roads, and other treatments that allow highways to stay just that: relatively uninterrupted carriage ways between larger destinations with ample walking-biking cross-through (tunnel under) opportunities. Now dangerous by design, the State and its Counties (along with their Advisers and Advocates) are unable or unwilling to provide the needed tools and coping strategies.

View the proposed updated Delaware Vehicle Code for Pedestrians in pdf format, that was quashed by Bike Delaware after its presentation to Senator Dave Sokola, with no further discussion. It was crafted by using the best of language from progressive States, e.g. Washington, Oregon, Mass, etc where motorist's respect for non-motorized road users is visibly higher than in Delaware, and the statistics are there to back it.

View the 2018 pedestrian fatality statistics for the whole of the U.S. Delaware took a "rest" from the top 5 in 2018, but is set to return in 2019.

Read an article in Strong Towns comparing Streets, Roads, and "Stroads", and what we can do to eliminate the latter in favor of livable streets and communities.

Watch James Howard Kunstler on YouTube destroy the very notion of cars as human scale.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Destroying Peterson's Legacy, and Our Children's Future

Delaware Gov Russel Peterson (R: Environmentalist).
Surely, the man is spinning in his tomb.
With the stroke of a pen, 2 of Delaware's most corrupt legislators ever -- Senator Bryan Townsend and Rep Edward Osienski --destroyed the legacy of former Governor Russel Peterson (R) with HB-190. For those who don't know, Peterson was one of the greatest environmentalists to ever serve in public office, not just in Delaware but the U.S. as a whole. And that's one thing. It's quite another that the pair did this knowing full well the environmental implications, and in the big picture, the dire threat to species survival (including our own) -- both locally and globally:

  • Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’ (Guardian)
  • Human civilization faces "existential risk" by 2050 (CBS News)
  • 'Existential' Risk of Climate Crisis Could Lead to Civilizational Collapse by 2050, Warns Report
  • Earth's sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn (Guardian)
  • Extinction is a national threat. Congress must act now: Delaware Voice (Delaware On-Line)

The only thing more shocking
is that Senator Townsend has a 2nd child on the way. With the science more clear than ever, what kind of future does he wish upon them? He had a golden opportunity to make a huge difference right at home -- for a bargain -- and leave a legacy not only for himself, but for his kids and everyone in his District 11. He could have been a champion for those who fought for several years to save the Orphanage Property's fields, forests and wetlands for a regional park. He could have made a bold statement about saving biodiversity while building a quality of life for Ogletown residents. BUT, profits and paybacks to his campaign donors were more important to him, so these hopes never even stood a chance at happening. Because of that, this webpage will serve as a reminder to future generations just who was responsible for their demise, first and foremost, the highest ranking and most influential legislator of them all: Bryan Townsend (D) District 11.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The lies of Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski

By Angela Connolly | That Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski are pathological liars couldn't be more apparent than their assertion that 2 additional years of advocacy -- from the time that developing the Orphanage Property was first conceived -- would have made zero difference in the outcome. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This sham was perpetrated by both of these State legislators who are responsible for this reckless travesty of justice. It was their defacto response after Councilwoman Diller leaked the news of the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" to citizens and Advocates in 2015, a full two years after the legislators first learned the threat of development.

In the spirit of fairness and that "both sides are presented", we are including the relevant snippets from their pages. For the record, had any of these legislators brought the news of impending Orphanage Property development to their constituents, the press, and/or enlisted the help of Advocates in 2013, we would instead be in the planning stages of Ogletown Regional Park.

Any one, two or all three could have stood up to the Felician Sisters and insisted "you are not doing this to our constituents!" and demanded that meetings be arranged and that the seeds of a County and/or State acquisition be planted. It comes first and foremost with their job -- known in the field as representation, democracy and "the needs of the many outweigh the needs (or profits) for the few". These are concepts that Townsend, Osienski and Diller have absolutely no clue about, and never will.

Even non-critical lands of less consequence have been acquired by Govt agencies or Legislative bodies under much more strenuous circumstances than Townsend and Osienski describe. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of examples on-line and across the U.S. These pitiful excuses that they posted on their pages are a foul, repugnant reminder that Delaware is the 4th most corrupt State in the U.S., measured by transparency and accountability (lack thereof).

In summary,"legislators" Townsend, Osienski and Diller are just a few of the self-serving wretches in Delaware Govt that make life-changing decisions for the rest of us, while their #1 fundamental uno priority is to enrich themselves and their cohorts. Townsend in particular is recognized more and more as a foul, brown-nosing corporatist kiss-ass, who's scratching and clawing his way to the top of the political slag heap. Few doubt that he will win the Governor's Mansion or a seat in U.S. Congress. Ultimately, they are all enablers, bidders, and paid shills of the wealthy corporatist elite that fund their campaigns and pass the fat envelopes around. This could not be more apparent with the loss of the Orphanage Property, and an entire region's last hope for it's own park and form of place-making.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Privilege Has Its Rewards

Just the latest project for PEOPLE and quality of life happening in Newark proper, largely pioneered by State Legislators and Officials:

“This was our little haven. This was our little secret. Nobody else knew about this,” Garvin recalled. “Now, we have thousands and thousands of people who are going to take advantage of it, and it is an incredible thing for the city of Newark, New Castle County and the state of Delaware.”

Improving the trail has long been a priority for residents of Fairfield, Fairfield Crest and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the cycling community.

 “This creates a really nice connection to our downtown to help promote alternative modes of transportation, riding your bike, walking, improving your health, getting into nature. All these things are really important for our quality of life and reasons why people would want to come to Newark and live and work here.”

State Rep. Paul Baumbach said the trail is a long time coming. “The connection makes all the difference here,” he said. “This connects us, the community, to the university, to the state park, to the city parks. It finishes these pieces that are so important.”

“The trail connects with the other parks and other places, but people connect, too,” McBride said. “They connect with each other, they connect with the natural world, and they connect with their best selves.”

Other people projects . . .

Council approves additional funds for controversial bike bridge

Last estimated at $1.75 million, the project’s cost is now expected to surpass $2 million, though the exact amount won’t be known until the project goes out for bid, according to Newark Parks and Recreation Director Joe Spadafino.

Newark Country Club creates Certified Wildlife Habitat

The Newark Country Club recently revamped its grounds to become a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program.

Curtis Mill Park set to open Oct. 17

The park will include a plaza, a meadow, landscaping and a 12-to-15 car parking lot. Workers salvaged a number of bricks from the smokestack that once stood on the property and will use them in the construction of a plaza area that will contain kiosks with historical information and photographs of the former paper mill.

Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail

Local and state dignitaries toasted the newly completed Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail Monday as a premiere hiking and biking destination that will set a recreational standard throughout the region.

Too bad that Ogletown-S. Newark will never see these kinds of amenities. Living in this grossly disenfranchised region of New Castle County among the "unwashed" as viewed by Senator Townsend, Rep Osienski and NCC's Matt Meyer and Elisa Diller, "quality of life" doesn't stand a chance. For these four -- all Democrats -- a Wawa or Royal Farms with 12 gas pump islands is "place-making" and building communities.

How rotten and disgusting they really are, especially Senator Townsend as the highest ranking and easily the most influential Legislator in the bunch. For both he and Rep Osienski, throwing away the Orphanage Property and the last chance for a regional park was payback time to their campaign donors, mainly consisting of developer and building interests.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Townsend and Son celebrate environmental destruction on Labor Day

From Senator Townsend's Facebook page:

This toddler loves heavy equipment, dirt, and the book “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.” Thanks to BG for taking the time to help make a little guy’s story times into a reality -- and thank you for all workers who help build the progress, safety, and values at the heart of Labor Day!

What kind of world does Townsend expect to leave his children given the myriad of scientific data and reports coming at us daily about the grave situation our planet is now in? According to The Guardian among countless others:

=> Up to 1M species are at risk of annihilation, many within decades, according to a leaked draft of the global assessment report, which has been compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature.

=> The 1,800-page study will show people living today, as well as wildlife and future generations, are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity depends for food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate.

And here's the Wilmington News Journal, for a more local perspective:

=> Nearly half of Delaware’s native plants are either threatened or already extinct. More than three-quarters of the state’s freshwater mussels are gone. One in five of our native fish species have disappeared.

=> It’s time to recognize species loss as a canary in a coal mine and act now, while we still can. Wildlife has no borders; neither does extinction, and neither should our response. I urge our congressional delegation to support RAWA now, before it’s too late. 

Let's revisit Townsend's page where he attempts to vindicate himself of wrongdoing in selling out the 180 acre Orphanage Property, its wetlands and critical habitat area -- and with that, the last remaining chance for a regional park for his Ogletown constituents:

=> This picture is one of deep hopes more deeply dashed. As a state senator, I have been proud to pass key legislation for Delaware and to serve constituents in my district. Sometimes my efforts have been unsuccessful. One of the deepest regrets I will ever have is that I was unsuccessful in my efforts with State Rep. Ed Osienski to preserve the open space on the orphanage property along Route 4 near Ogletown. This land could and should have become a regional county park for densely populated, hard-working neighborhoods. Instead, it will become mixed housing.

=> What happened is a complicated story, and Rep. Osienski and I have posted the details [here]. But this photo shows how I feel about it. I grew up in one of the neighborhoods next to this open space and flew kites here as a child. I wanted to fly kites here with my son someday, in a county park. I wanted every child and family along Route 4 to be able to do so, for generations to come. It meant so much to me as a legislator and as a father who grew up in this community. I did all that I could, and I will always regret that my efforts fell short.

Now lets talk about what really happened, by simply looking at Senator Townsend's campaign donor list, breaking it down among several categories including individual donors. His legislative companion, Ogletown's State Rep. Edward Osienki, is similarly weighted with builder interests.

No wonder the two concealed the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" from their constituents for two full years from the time it was first conceived in 2013. Doing so kept environmental and quality of life Advocates at bay, and allowed the development plans to reach a point of no return. From there, the two could make excuses and lie their way to its finished conclusion.

Senator Townsend (along with his Democrat minions in the House and NCC Council) will have to answer someday for why he trampled the wishes of the overwhelming majority of his constituents. He will have to answer for his failure to defend their quality of life in an entire region of Delaware, and in the grand scheme of things, hastened climate change and mass extinction.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

CDC: Mental Health and (lack of) Green Space

Senator Townsend's taking Chair of the Senate Health, Children, & Social Services committee in 2017 is, once again, hypocrisy at its absolute worst. In this case, Mr Townsend denied a clear, common sense remedy by refusing to champion place-making, green space and a regional park right in his own District 11. An entire region of New Castle County has now lost that opportunity forever, with only more traffic congestion (and road rage) to show for it.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the effects of the community design choices we make and the opportunities those choices afford or deny us are only just now beginning to be understood. Such effects not only can influence community members’ physical health but their mental health as well.Effects on mental health can include both increased stress and cognitive impairment, which in turn can have physical health implications. Some of this increased stress can be caused by long and taxing daily commutes necessitated by development patterns that separate our work or school locations from our homes. This increased commuting-related stress may be related to the perceived increases in the rates of “road rage.”
  • Researchers have discovered that when some people who are injured or ill are exposed to open, undeveloped land, also known as green space, they recover faster than others who were not exposed. In another study, researchers examined the cognitive functions of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to determine the effect that the children’s surroundings had on learning and their ability to concentrate. The researchers found that exposure to parks and other green spaces improved the children’s ability to focus and concentrate.
See also: Access to Parks and Open Space by the Institute for Local Government:
  • Residents of neighborhoods that lack park and recreation facilities are more likely to exhibit health disparities. Increasing park acreage and facilities per capita and improving access to existing parks are important ways to support physical activity.
And THIS article, by the Trust for Public Land:
  • Parks and open space outside of cities produce economic benefits as well. Parks attract non-resident visitors who put new dollars into local economies. Proximity to parks and open space enhances the value of residential properties and produces increased tax revenues for communities. Open space captures precipitation, reduces stormwater management costs, and by protecting underground water sources, open space can reduce the cost of drinking water up to ten-fold. Trees and shrubs reduce air pollution control costs. And of course, there is the value to human communities of protecting the habitats of wild creatures who live near us.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Newark Post: Townsend & Osienski repeat same tired lies

An article appeared in the Newark Post on August 15 about Townsend & Osienski's proposed trail network on what remains of the Orphanage Property wooded section. The two continue to lie -- repeatedly -- about their role in the loss of the land. They both took the stuffed envelopes and knowingly sold out the last and only chance for a regional park and some form of place-making for the Ogletown-S. Newark region. Business interests trumped revitalization, community building, and enhanced property values and that will be their legacy.

Excerpts from the article:

For the second year, trails proposed for the wooded land behind the former Our Lady of Grace Orphanage are stuck in limbo.

“Initially, we thought the area was in need of a county park and that’s why Sen. Bryan Townsend and I did pursue that route with the county,” said State Rep. Ed Osienski. “When that did not happen, we thought that the surrounding communities would still be interested. There are some trails back there that have developed over the years.”

Ultimately, [developer Bob] Sipple decided not to sign the easement due to the changes it required, according to emails obtained by the Newark Post. Sipple did not return a request for comment.

“I think we want to try to keep it for these trails, and if that doesn’t work out, then I think we would have a conversation with the other parts of the Route 4 corridor about what kind of local investments might be helpful to people, ideally from an environmental and leisure perspective,” Townsend said.

Townsend's "Plan" for himself AND Rep Osienski is to try and salvage an ounce credibility in the face of blatant corruption that they themselves participated in.

Nothing can change the fact that both knew years in advance that the Felician Sisters were looking to build, and that they NEVER brought it to the public or Advocate's attention. Each time someone would confront them with this fact, they answered "well, we didn't think it would happen" or "we didn't think the Sisters could get a plan approved". Sometimes they even say they did go public, mentioning it at local civic meetings (that are sparsely attended if that). The fact is, THIS is how you go public, as they demonstrated themselves!

What Townsend could have done was recognize the threat of development in 2013, well before the plans were drawn up and the regional park alternative was easily achievable. At least he or Osienski should have immediately understood the huge opportunity they had to do something great for their districts and their constituents. THEY didn't do that, they didn't see the need for this invaluable open space as a public asset, because that would fly in the face of their donor interests. So watching as they lie in this manner, and trying and save face with a no-go trail project on private property is laughable at best.

Despite such widespread and enthusiastic support for a regional park, no amount of action or visibility on the part of residents and citizens counted toward democracy in Townsend's District 11 -- and in light of such obvious corruption, the rule of law. It became painfully clear that, from the very beginning, the fate of the land was already sealed. Townsend and his cohort Osienski were well aware in 2013 that development of the Orphanage Property was coming, and kept it a secret from their Constituents for 2 years -- long enough that it was too late to stop it.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Townsend's Bond Committee Quashed Open Space Funding

Senator Towsend (and Rep Ed Osienski) are equally at fault for the loss of the Orphanage Property. Unlike other States, most of Delaware does not have local jurisdiction (charter), like a city, township or borough. Nor do we have the ability to draft and put up referendums on the ballot, i.e. open space funding via a minuscule sin tax as commonly seen in most other States. Save the Orphanage Property (STOP) Advocates poured their hearts and souls into 10-9 funding ($10M for farmland, $9M for open space preservation) and Open Space as a Democrat Party Plank, and both were soundly defeated.

Therefore, because of the lack of charters in most suburban areas of Delaware, our County and State Legislators are given a significantly elevated responsibility to act in the people's best interests, throughout the districts they serve. NOT, according to Townsend and his minion in the House -- Rep Edward Osienski. Both failed (and go on failing) their Ogleotwn-S. Newark constituents on issues of environment and quality of life.

Advocates knew from very early on that New Castle Councilwoman Lisa Diller was completely useless; a
colossal failure who did virtually nothing for STOP. Exec Meyer arrived late on the scene with his election in 2016, and with no State Legislator oversight, simply threw away this one time-ever opportunity. But along with Diller, both Osienski and Townsend knew way back in 2013 that the property was under the threat of development, and did not act in the manner one would expect if you're trying to save it.

View Senator Townsend's position on the the State's Bond Bill Committee HEREFor 2017, Delaware ended up with an $87M budget surplus. Citing "budgetary constraints" instead, he faked leveraging $1.25M for what is easily the most disenfranchised region of his own District 11 -- Ogletown-S.Newark.  And he did this while consumed by his failed primary campaign (at 34 years of age) against Lisa Blunt Rochester for U.S. Congress.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Who's your daddy? Following the money trail

Is it any wonder why Senator Townsend would not champion saving the Orphanage Property? An analysis of his campaign donor list indicates contributions in upwards of $125,000 tied to development interests to one degree or another.

You may need to register with "" to access the list, which can be broken down among several categories including individual donors. His legislative companion, Ogletown's own State Rep. Edward Osienki, is similarly weighted with builder interests. No wonder the two concealed the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" from their constituents for two full years from the time it was first conceived. Doing so kept environmental and quality of life Advocates out of it, and allowed the development plans to reach a point of no return. From there, the two could make excuses and lie their way to its finished conclusion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Saving Face: The Hypocrisy of HB-200

Excerpt from the article in "Blue Delaware" HB-200 - Clean Water Plan:

“This is a critical first step towards addressing the crisis-level needs we see throughout Delaware,” Senate Majority Whip Bryan Townsend said in a statement. “From chronic flooding, to aging sewer systems, to drinking water that isn’t drinkable, Delaware desperately needs sustained investment in water infrastructure. “This bill represents initial steps down a path of true commitment to meeting our water challenges. Let’s show immediate progress, and then push for even more investment to promote our economy and the health and safety of all Delawareans.”

Senator Townsend can try, but he cannot hide from his tainted environmental record. He wouldn't champion saving the 180 acre Orphanage Property -- its forests, fields and wetlands -- for future generations to enjoy (and possibly need for allotments). At the same time, he relaxed coastal zone protections in favor of heavy industrial development. His position as "Chair" of the Clean Water Task Force is laughable at best, a bad joke for a man whose record runs contrary of what this "task force" says it wants to accomplish. According to this paper from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Urbanization increases the variety and amount of pollutants carried into streams, rivers, and lakes. The pollutants include:
  • Sediment
  • Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from motor vehicles
  • Pesticides and nutrients from lawns and gardens
  • Viruses, bacteria, and nutrients from pet waste and failing septic systems
  • Road salts
  • Heavy metals from roof shingles, motor vehicles, and other sources
  • Thermal pollution from dark impervious surfaces such as streets and rooftops
These pollutants can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water
supplies, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.

=> It also contributes heavily to flooding, especially in low-lying areas like the Orphanage Property, with its high water table.

Also check out this paper (pdf), from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Excerpt:

 . . . with the increase in man-made impervious surfaces, such as roads, rooftops, and parking lots, the volume of stormwater runoff has drastically increased. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces, it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that can drastically impact water quality.

By his very record, Senator Townsend has never seen a development project he didn't oppose, regardless of its impacts on water and the environment in general. Sacrificing wetlands, paving over natural permeable surfaces, and creating torrents of polluted run-off is very much on his agenda. A look at his campaign donor list -- loaded with developer interests -- tells us all we need to know.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Name That Liar: Townsend vs Meyer

How did we lose our last open space and regional park opportunity in the Ogletown-S. Newark region? Two attorney politicians -- NCC Exec Meyer and Senator Townsend -- were representing the County and State with supposed interest in saving the 180 acre Orphanage Property on Route 4, the last remaining parcel suitable for such a purpose.

Each, below, tells a conflicting story about how the region was sold out. One or both lied, repeatedly, to cover themselves and to give the appearance of action on their part. One thing is clear, however: Townsend would NOT stand up for his constituents, insert himself in the process, and hold Meyer accountable --  presumably out of (D) party loyalty.

At the end of the day, both will defend their positions with skillful deceit and con-artistry. And they will  readily support each other's re-election bid.

According to New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer in his "County Efforts to Preserve Felician Sisters Ogletown Property" timeline:

Over the course of negotiations, New Castle County made the property owners four written offers to acquire the land. Each offer expressed the County’s support for the owner’s desire to retain a portion of the parcel and develop 60 affordable rental apartments. To date, the four County offers stand as the only written offers to purchase and preserve this land.

Despite their rhetoric, the property owners never proposed an offer for sale they would accept.  The owners never responded to any of the offer letters with a specific counter-offer, sale conditions or a sale price they would accept to complete the sale.

Funding commitments for purchase:
County: County Executive Matt Meyer offered up to $2.5 million in New Castle County funds to acquire this land at appraised value, subject to approval by County Council and contingent on the commitment of matching funds from the State of Delaware.

STATE: In June, 2017 State Senator Bryan Townsend initially tried to secure “$2 million for the first year of a five-year, $6 million commitment,” to purchase the property according to draft bond bill language he submitted to the General Assembly.  Unfortunately, Senator Townsend’s efforts to secure that allocation were unsuccessful and the approved Fiscal Year 2018 bond bill only included a soft one-time commitment of $1.25 million in state funds.  The failure to secure adequate funds from the State complicated efforts to secure a successful purchase.

PRIVATE SOURCES: New Castle County committed to taking all possible steps to help secure funding from private, not-for-profit funding sources for the balance of the purchase price.

Meanwhile, the owners continued to advance the pending development plan through the land use process.  In July, 2017, the owner and developer sought and received final development plan approval.

In Senator Townsend's public timeline "Ogletown Park", and in person and in emails, he (and State Rep Osienski) describe how Exec Meyer was anything but sincere and genuine in wanting to save the Orphanage Property as a regional park. There were not 4 buyout offers as claimed by Meyer; only 2 were viable. They claim that Meyer's 2 lame attempts at a buyout agreement failed to include several key conditions that he promised the Felician Sisters, those selling the property.

In July 2017, Townsend details the difficulties they had in encouraging Meyer to present a reasonable offer to the Sisters, and how invaluable time was squandered and deadlines expired. Additionally, on Aug 1st, 2017, he claims that Meyer refused to participate in a joint teleconference with him, even though that was the Sister's own request. The Sisters felt that Townsend understood their needs and had communicated them effectively.

"Ogletown Park" and its timeline is a publicly released document and an official statement from Townsend (and Osienski). Though loaded with hearsay and easily debunked, it could have been used as admissible evidence to support STOP's complaint to the Ethics Committee. But even that wasn't enough -- their minds were already made up that the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" was going to go forward, no matter what.

In summary, Senator Townsend -- above all other area legislators -- could have easily championed saving the Orphanage Property, and brought Ogletown-S. Newark a regional park. There is tons of precedent for State Legislators around the country enthusiastically supporting open space advocacy campaigns, taking charge and making projects happen at all levels. Townsend was conspicuously absent; if anything, he worked harder at the appearance of action on his part, because ultimately, he didn't intervene and/or make a stand when it mattered most.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Townsend's "Democratic" Party is an Environmental Fraud

In the Autumn of 2016, Advocates for Saving the Orphanage Property (STOP) also worked hard on a campaign to have the Delaware Democrat Party include open space preservation as a plank in their 2017 platform. This was not an endorsement of a particular party; the Democrats are the State's State's controlling party at this time. Unfortunately, despite repeated follow-up attempts, it was dismissed, swept under the rug and never even voted on.

Open Space and Farmland Preservation is supported by the overwhelming majority of the electorate, regardless of party affiliation. Countless studies have shown the importance of parkland, natural habitat, and bio-diversity in a community's overall health and well being. Ordinary folks know this. Yet the party that sells itself as stewards of the environment is nowhere to be found, as evidenced by their silence on STOP.

Below is the breakdown of those who signed on in support of the plank. It was grossly inadequate considering how many (D) legislators there are in Dover. Conspicuously absent was newly elected Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, whom advocates reached out to on multiple occasions without success. Townsend, of course, was expected on there as a cover for the mass campaign contributions that he accepts from the building lobby.

The best advice for those who care about the environment in Delaware is to join, engage with, and vote Green or other 3rd party. Or, if you insist on supporting the 2-party duopoly fraud, choose the "other" party (R) as a protest vote, i.e. "throw the bums out". Let us not forget that a highly respected former Republican Governor had put in place coastal zone safeguards that Townsend and his (D) minions have since relaxed. Most of the environmental damage we are seeing now -- and the lying to cover for it -- has occurred with Democrats in solid majorities.

Par for the course: The start of clear-cutting and the paving of forest and habitat area for a major housing development, also in Townsend's District 11 on Salem Church Road. Townsend could have been a champion of conservation by Saving the Orphanage Property, and in the process, won the last opportunity for a regional park in Ogletown. He chose not to, and even saw fit to conceal the development plans from his constituents and area Advocates.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Chestnut Hill "Preserve" run-off channeled to FEMA Type A flood plain

According to officials at the NCC Dept of Land Use (DLU), the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" will see much, if not most of its runoff channeled to Leathermans Run, a tributary of the Christina River. The final stretch of Leathermans is on the State's FEMA map as a type "A" flood hazard. What this means for adjacent residents (i.e. Woodshade to the southeast, close to where Senator Townsend lives) isn't clear, but it can't be positive.

Will the green hash marks of the flood plain need to be redrawn, possibly overlapping property lines? Even without the Orphanage Property paved over, Todd Estates and Breezewood residents were used to seeing the grasslands and woods fill with standing water. It was a very low land and has a high water table -- before the development raised it. This water and more will now be heading to the Christina via Leathermans Run or will simply "absorb into the ground", according to officials and developers.

With Senator Townsend's refusal to champion the preservation of the Orphanage Property as State and/or County parkland, he blew off any notion that flooding could be an issue. Apparently, he relies on the "miracle" of civil engineering to tame the natural environment no matter what the challenge. 

We are at the dawn of the Anthropocene, runaway climate change, and what should be a biodiversity emergency of epic proportions, yet Senator Townsend (and his fellow Democrat legislators) would rather condemn future generations and follow the money trail. He aids and abets developers in habitat destruction, forest clear cutting, and the paving of wetlands, or he would have fought to save the Orphanage Property.

The purple line represents the Salem Village Tax Ditch. The village is routinely threatened by
runoff, and the ditch helps protect communities like Chelmsford by channeling large
amounts of stormwater to Leathermans Run. Some units and their outbuildings are seen
sinking into the ground, which is unstable to begin with. It can be argued that this
development, and others nearby should never have been built in the first place.

Martha Denison explains the critical purpose of the Tax Ditch, that is used to protect low
lying neighborhoods from flooding. This stretch, in Chelmsford, is part of one that circles
Salem Village, as seen in the above map. Also pictured is Angela Connolly.

Townsend Guts Coastal Zone Protections

Coastal Zone Act bill is a betrayal to Peterson’s intent
Note: With Democrats like Townsend, who needs Republicans? Bill signing HERE.

Originally posted in Delaware State News, May 21, 2017 | Rep. Ed Osienski and Sen. Bryan Townsend have introduced a bill (HB 190) that guts the Coastal Zone Act by re-industrializing some of Delaware’s most contaminated land and allowing new bulk product transfer operations where they never previously existed.

Established in 1971 under Republican Gov. Russell Peterson, the Coastal Zone Act has controlled the location, extent and type of industrial development in Delaware’s coastal areas to protect the natural environment for recreation and tourism. Manufacturing is allowed in the Coastal Zone (with a permit), but new heavy industrial development and bulk product transfer facilities were prohibited.

If passed, the bill would allow new heavy industry and bulk product transfer in targeted areas. Heavy industry, and its associated air and water pollution, is the most harmful and dangerous form of development. The areas that would be opened to new heavy industry including those near homes, schools and critical habitat zones.

The Coastal Zone Act prohibits bulk product transfer because of the pressure it places on the Coastal Zone. The language of the prohibition is eliminated by this bill and replaced with a new procedure that allows bulk product transfer operations where docks existed in 1971.

  • “During an era when protecting clean water is a priority for Sen. Townsend, he places the integrity of the Delaware River and its tributaries at risk. He is essentially fouling the Delaware Estuary with this bill, thinking somehow that financial guarantees and offsets could mitigate the loss of critical habitat for birds and the ecosystem they rely on to survive.” — Mark Martell, Conservation Chair of Delaware Audubon Society
  • “Russ Peterson warned us that once he died, lawmakers would start hacking away at the Coastal Zone Act. If he were alive today, would Sen. Townsend and Rep. Osienski be able to look him in the eye and argue their positions? It is only since Russ has passed that these legislators have decided to betray him.” — Matt DelPizzo, President of Delaware Audubon Society
  • “HB 190 does not ‘modernize’ the Coastal Zone Act. Instead, it significantly weakens core protections in the Act in the unsubstantiated hope that backwards-looking options like heavy industry will somehow provide an economic boost to Delaware. [Full Article . . . ]
As expected, HB-190 was signed into law by Democrat Governor John Carney.

"A champion must be ready at all times" ~Cris Cyborg

Saving the Orphanage Property on Route 4 in Ogletown, as a regional park and trail system, should have been top priority for Senator Bryan Townsend starting in 2013. He could have been a champion for his constituents and their quality of life, but he chose not to. His campaign donors and a full time run for U.S. Congress made sure of it.

The trail system through the woods and wetlands portion (approx 2/3 of the property) were mapped by GPS in 2016 upon learning that it was threatened by an enormous mixed housing development. As many of you know, Advocates were in the fight of their lives to save this beautiful landscape as a regional park for Ogletown -- something so desperately needed, and now, can never happen.

Ogletown residents have been vastly underserved when it comes to parkland and open space. None of NCC's regional parks with amenities are within a safe walking or biking distance of their homes, while other regions including Pike Creek and the City of Newark are continually adding them. None of that mattered to Mr Townsend, who threw this forgotten region of his (gerrymandered) district under the bus -- with two hands.

The easiest way to have accessed the trail system was Pearson Drive, through Todd Estates II, south of Route 4. Pearson dead-ends at a major trail head with room for parking. It is now completely off-limits as a result of the Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve".

We mapped out the entire trail system using a GPS.

The view from orbit. The lower left 1/3 is being paved over by a housing development, and the rest of the trail system shut down via DNREC directive. It didn't have to happen had a Legislator like Bryan Townsend championed the cause. He could have been that champion, from the time he first learned of development plans 2 years before Councilwoman Lisa Diller leaked it to citizen Advocates.