When heavy rains hit the low-lying neighborhoods in one of the city’s poorest areas, residents have had to contend with the costly, damaging impact of the flooding that inevitably results.
But a $25 million construction project in south Wilmington will alleviate that flooding while restoring a major wetlands area and creating a new community park.
City, state and federal officials broke ground on the project on Friday.
The new community park features a wide, ADA accessible boardwalk/on-grade pathway through the heart of the park that will connect the Southbridge neighborhood to other parts of south Wilmington and the Riverfront.
The 20-acre wetlands project will create a stormwater management facility and a new open recreational space for the Southbridge community and visitors to the park.
“This project is a big deal for Wilmington, especially for the residents [there] who have had to deal with persistent, damaging flooding for far too long,” said Mayor Mike Purzycki at Friday’s ceremony.
“I’m sure that the south Wilmington Wetlands Park will make a huge difference for this part of the City. It won’t solve all of our high-water problems, but it will help to mitigate these issues and provide a beautiful park for everyone to enjoy,” said Purzycki.
Governor John Carney, Senator Chris Coons, and other elected officials participated in the ceremonial first dig.
It has taken more than a decade to acquire the land needed to build the park as well as to complete the planning and engineering and receive federal and state permits.
During that time the city of Wilmington worked with other agencies, non-profits, and the Southbridge community to develop a park plan.
Funding for the project includes $21 million in City capital funds that were borrowed from the State’s Clean Water Revolving Fund; $3 million from NOAA/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; $1 million in brownfield funding from the federal and state governments; and a $25,000 grant from the Nature Conservancy.
The project, expected to be completed in late 2020, includes the restoration of 14 acres of degraded wetland to a high-functioning freshwater tidal wetland habitat for a variety of fish and wetland and aquatic wildlife.
Those interested can follow the progress of the new wetlands park by accessing the wetlands page of the City website here.