Plans to remake the former Rodney Reservoir are showing progress
The Rodney Reservoir in Wilmington’s Hilltop neighborhood has a rich history.
Aside from its stint as a functioning reservoir, it has also served as a park with open-air concerts, ice skating, and other recreational activities.
It was closed to the public in 2003. But in 2010, some residents began using it as a community garden.
The fate of the space was thrown into jeopardy in 2022 when the City of Wilmington announced plans to demolish the reservoir and privately develop the space.
Residents pushed back, and the advocacy group Green For A Greater Good was formed. They represent a group of neighbors who want the Rodney Reservoir to become a permanent public greenspace
For the past year and a half they have worked to engage with the community, including surrounding organizations like St. Francis Hospital, the Lewis Dual Language Elementary, Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids, West Side Grows Together, and the University of Delaware.
They specialize in public engagement. For the past few months they have hosted a series of public workshops to engage with community members who will be using the park to help design it to their needs and desires.
“We got a really good understanding of what the mix of programs should be from that. And it was overwhelmingly for a nature and environmental education focused park,” said Hinge Collective designer Ari Miller.
He says a final conceptual rendering and cost estimate is nearly ready.
“And from there the city needs to identify the funding sources. And we also will be working to design the park toward available grants that we know are out there. And thinking about how we can position this park for funding in the future, particularly around environmental education and restorative landscapes.”
Demolition of the current site will proceed.
Around 40% of the property is made up of the concrete roof of the former reservoir, which has begun to fail. It poses a potential safety risk.
The city released an official demolition plan last month.
Despite the progress made on the design of a new park, resident and advisory committee member Jamila Davey worries the city may decide to go with private developers.
“We are disappointed that they’re still planning to demolish without committing any funds to the project because that still leaves the site in limbo,” she explained.
A fully graded and seeded grass area will be created following demolition, which is expected to take four months
Residents can get more information on the new park design, including upcoming public workshops, at greenforthegreatergood.org.