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Demolition of UD dorms to start next month for stormwater park

Courtesy of the City of Newark
An aerial photograph of the Rodney dorm site to be demolished for the stormwater pond and park

The project turning a former University of Delaware dormitory site into a park is moving forward.

Officials say demolition of the 1966 Rodney dorms in Newark is set to begin early next month. 

In its place contractors will install a stormwater drainage pond, walking paths and a playground. Citizens votedto let the city borrow $9 million for the project last summer through the State Revolving Loan Fund. 

Contracted engineers say the project’s drainage pond should alleviate flooding issues on South Main Street and improve water quality in the Christina River.

Credit Courtesy of the City of Newark
A concept design for the Rodney Stormwater Pond and Park


“That detention allows for pollutants to settle out,” said Jay Kelley, an engineer with project contractor JMT. “It allows for vegetative uptake of different nutrients we’re trying to treat.” Kelley says those nutrients include nitrogen and phosphorus.

At an information session held by the city this week, several residents bemoaned an unintended consequence of the park: the loss of University-owned recreational equipment there currently used by the public. 

Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
A public meeting in Newark Wednesday updated residents on the Rodney Stormwater Pond and Park project

Kimberly Segermark runs a regional volleyball group she says uses a court there four to five times a week. 

“It’ll be a bummer when it’s gone,” she said. “I’m not looking forward to it.”

Although the stormwater park design does not include a volleyball court, Newark parks and recreation officials say they are hoping to identify by the end of 2020 some other place in the city to install a sand volleyball court.


Newark Parks and Recreation Director Joe Spadafino says the Rodney Stormwater Pond and Park will bring new recreational features to the city. He points to nature-themed elements of the planned playground, including a "spiderweb" net and an agility trail.


"We're really going to give the kids a chance to think about nature and the outdoors and so forth, and really draw them to the park," he said.


The Rodney Stormwater Pond and Park is scheduled to open next November.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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