Posted: Oct. 7, 2003
JUST WHAT GLENVILLE NEEDS
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
In a curious turn of events,
the way to help the Glenville residents who survived the punishing
flood from Henri last month may be more water, not less.
Turn Glenville into a
reservoir. New Castle County, a year removed from a record drought,
even if it does seem hard to remember that now, needs a new water
supply in the area, anyway.
Alternatively, let the
neighborhood become marshland. The state Transportation Department
already is looking for a place nearby to create wetlands to replace
what would be lost from Churchmans Marsh in a project to expand
These ideas were discussed
Monday when a working group of federal, state and county officials
met, as they have been, to figure out what can be done for about 300
Glenville residents seeking a government buyout of the 195-home
community that was flooded Sept. 15.
The brainstorm came from
state Rep. Robert F. Gilligan, a Sherwood Park Democrat whose
district includes Glenville. "Talk about thinking outside the box,"
said Mark T. Brainard, the chief of staff for Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
The proposals need to be
studied to determine whether they are workable, but they have caught
the attention not only of the Minner administration, but County
Executive Thomas P. Gordon, County Council President Christopher A.
Coons, state Sen. Karen E. Peterson and others who attended the
"A reservoir is probably a
good way to get the buyout done, because it's something that has to
happen, anyway," Gilligan said.
What is particularly
attractive is the way it would refocus the thinking about government
spending. Instead of being exclusively for a buyout, the money also
would go for a larger public purpose, and it could come from more
sources than what appears to be meager federal financing available
for disaster relief.
"It addresses the major
concern of many state legislators -- the precedent of buying out
homes," Coons said.
There has yet to be an
estimate of the cost for dealing with Glenville, but the working
group expects it to be in the neighborhood of $30 million -- an
amount that seems difficult to attain for a buyout without a special
appropriation from the Congress.
Officials are looking at
perhaps $500,000 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
$10 million from the Army Corps of Engineers, $5 million or more
from New Castle County and an unspecified amount from the state.
Still, it is clear something
has to be done. "You have to get rid of the community as it sits
there. This is a real public-safety dangerous situation. We would
have had an awful lot of people die if it [the flooding] was in the
middle of the night," Gordon said. "I am not going to stop until
To come up with a solution,
Gilligan simply combined his concerns about Glenville with an
ongoing evaluation by the state to decide whether Bread & Cheese
Island, which is not an island at all but land immediately to the
south of the neighborhood, could be turned into a reservoir for
drinking water or into marshland to accommodate improvements for
I-95. Federal highway projects are required to create new wetlands
whenever others are destroyed as a means for flood control -- to
prevent more Glenvilles elsewhere.
Because there are
environmental concerns about Bread & Cheese Island, using Glenville
instead actually could be a better solution, Gilligan said.
More water for Glenville
appears to defy logic, but the government working group already has
done that, anyway. It has brought to the same table the governor's
staff and Karen Peterson, who may run against Minner in a Democratic
primary next year, as well as Gordon and Coons, who is expected to
face Sherry L. Freebery, the chief administrative officer for
Gordon, in a Democratic primary for county executive.
"It's pretty much an
only-in-Delaware thing," Coons said.
RETURN TO ARCHIVES
RETURN TO COVER PAGE