North Union Street — the actual street itself! — was alive with action this week thanks to the Better Block project. The West Side Grows Together coalition temporarily redesigned the 500 and 600 blocks of the three-lane highway into two-lanes, turning one into a community block party and gathering space filled with public art, live music, activities, greenery, a bike lane and outdoor dining.
The vision is to permanently redesign North Union Street to encourage slower speeds and better connect the neighborhoods to the businesses along the corridor. Dead Presidents, Mrs. Robinos, The Wicked Vine and other restaurants all provided outdoor seating this week, Urban Bike Project repaired bikes for free, kids played checkers, had their faces painted and listened to story-telling. On Wednesday, the Wilmington Police Department offered a special presentation about how they train German shepherds for their K9 unit.
Garnering enough support to push this idea through to realization has not been easy. “This has been difficult to figure out, and we are working on a petition to drive the political will in this project’s favor,” said Sarah Lester, who — along with 400 volunteers — spearheaded the 3-day Better Block Project.
“The new uses demonstrates to the community how Union Street can be a vibrant, bikeable, walkable, pedestrian-friendly area, and generate economic impact for the local businesses,” remarked Lester.