Jennette Fennimore wants her kids to be able to ride their scooters or skateboards from their neighborhood to other developments nearby.
Barbara Ferguson Stremple and her husband wish they could enjoy walking or biking where they live.
Neither of them has that option because there’s simply no safe way them to do so by road.
Fennimore and Stremple are just two examples of families in the Millcreek area who have formed a grassroots organization called Millcreek Neighbors for Safer Pathways. The group represents the interests of nearly 1,500 households who are unable to safely cross U.S. Rt. 41 (Newport Gap Pike) between McKennan’s Church Road and Faulkland Road.
MNSP includes cyclists, swimmers, joggers, strollers, walkers, skateboarders – citizens of all ages who enjoy the outdoors and who live in neighborhoods near and along Newport Gap Pike, Millcreek Road and Hercules Road.
The MNSP organization was formed in 2019, shortly after tragedy struck when a young woman was killed while trying to walk across Rt 41 near Brandywine Springs Park.
Too many of their lives have been touched by tragedy, accidents and near-misses caused by the lack of safe pathway options in their area, they say.
“Mill Creek Hundred in a very nice place to live. Residents have so many wonderful public spaces and so many things are so close,” said Thomas Gears, who lives in the Brandywine Springs community. “The missing ingredient in Mill Creek Hundred is connectivity.”
The safer pathways group’s goal is two-fold: to improve connectivity of pedestrians and cyclists to attractions in the Millcreek area; and to increase their safety through use of off-road trails and pathways.
To this end, they have had 40 meetings among themselves, as well as with staff from DelDot, Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) and state and local leaders in-person during pre COVID times and recently via Zoom.
The residents have been able to accomplish a few things from their to do list:
- DelDot agreed to install the first pedestrian crossing signal on Newport Gap Pike, between Lancaster Pike and Kirkwood Highway. It’s planned for spring.
- New Castle County Public Works worked with them to design and construct a pathway through Cross Gates Park and the former Emily Bissell Hospital property to the intersection of Rt. 41 and Millcreek/Hercules intersection.
- Create a local non-profit brand for multi-modal safety.
But the ultimate goal is to be included in the ongoing, overall revitalization efforts of New Castle County, such as Greenway projects in Newport, New Castle, Newark and North Wilmington, according to Pat Carlozzi of the pathways group.
Their vision is to create and develop a network of interconnected pathways in Millcreek Hundred that allows residents to safely walk or bike to the area’s amenities, which include parks, schools, recreation areas, historical sites, places of worship, employers, and business establishments.
For Htay Hlaing of Fairway Estates, and his family of six, the improvements will make a big difference in not only his son’s life but that of his parents’ and in-laws’ too.
He and his wife, Sanda Lwin, care for both of their elderly parents, who “frequently take a walk around the neighborhoods.” They say “a safe pedestrian access to Brandywine Springs Park would dramatically improve their daily routine.”
The Hlaing’s 10-year-old son attends nearby Brandywine Springs School and goes to DelCastle Park for tennis practice.
“We would love to walk him to the school or the park safely as well,” said Hlaing.
The level of connectivity enjoyed in Brandywine Hundred should be the example and goal for the entire state of Delaware, according to Gears.
“The pieces are all there for Mill Creek Hundred,” said Gears. “We just need to make it happen.”
How you can help
If you live in the Millcreek area, you can:
- Help deliver the message to neighborhoods, homeowners associations, and other stakeholders in Millcreek Hundred.
- Let your county and state representatives know that you support New Castle County’s 2050 Comprehensive Plan priority for safe connectivity.
- Help improve coordination between parties, especially potential funding partners.
- Reach out to MNSP on Facebook or Gmail (email@example.com)
- Invite MNSP to speak at your next neighborhood/civic association, church, or PTO/PTA meeting.
Destinations that need safer paths
- Westminster Pool (Rt. 41, Hercules Road)
- Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church (Millcreek & McKennan’s Church roads)
- Brandywine Springs School (K-8) (Duncan & Faulkland roads)
- McKean HS (McKennan’s Church Rdad)
- • Delcastle Recreation Area (Duncan & McKennan’s Church roads)
- Brandywine Springs Park (Rt. 41 & Faulkland Road)