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Possible buyout of residents near Port of Wilmington moves forward

Residents of Pyles Lane, a street nestled between the Hamilton Park neighborhood and the Delaware River Industrial Park near the Port of Wilmington, have long complained of truck traffic related to the Port degrading their quality of life. 


This year’s state Bond Bill authorizes— and encourages — DelDOT to buy out ten residential parcels there at “fair market value.” The buyout is voluntary, and DelDOT says residents will not be forced to sell. 

Residents received letters from DelDOT earlier this month seeking contact information to begin the process. As of late last week, seven residents had responded.

“At least we’ve gotten somewhere,” said Edwina Richards, who lives in the house she grew up in on Pyles Ln. “It’s taken a year to get the bond, pass the bond, and start the actual process of buyout. But at least now it’s started.”

DelDOT officials say they hope to have property appraisals finished by mid-December and begin acquisition and relocation next year. 

Richards at first resisted the idea of taking the buyout, but has changed her mind.

“When they first told us about this buyout last October, I said, hell no, I ain’t doing this, and I walked out of the meeting. Because I didn’t want to give up this house," she said. "I was born here. This is my home. This is where my mother and father lived 'til they both died. This is where I came to live until I die. There’s a lot of memories in this house they can’t put a price on. But in the last six or eight months I’ve begun to see that, yeah, maybe it is time to move.”

However, Richards says she will only be able to take the buyout if her property is appraised above a certain point. She has started looking for places to move, but says she needs to know what she will be offered. “You can’t look for a piece of property to buy to put a house on or to buy a house because you don’t know what you’re working with,” she said. 

Richards’ neighbor, Charlie Gonzalez, says he has put significant money and effort into home improvements —including a new roof, a deck and landscaping. He says it would be difficult to leave close neighbors such as the Richards, and other intangible things.

“Lots of memories,” he said. "Sentimental memories. I get a little choked up because my sons, we planted trees, and I gotta leave those trees behind."

Gonzalez has said if the “price is right,” he will decide to sell his home to the state. 

“They put us in a rock and a hard place when Port To Port came to town,” he said, referring to the international shipping company located across the street from his house. “It pretty much uprooted all the peace and quiet we had up here, and made it dangerous for us to live here. I’ve been threatened twice to get shot by these truck drivers.”

State Rep. Frank Cooke signed the first letters that went to residents this month. “I’m just encouraged by this movement,” he said. “I hope that the residents will be able to feel some type of relief that’s coming their way.” Cooke adds he hopes for full participation in the buyout. 


More recent letters sent to some residents from DelDOT say appraisals will be done by Thomas C. Reynolds, III of Reynolds Appraisal Company, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm specializing in eminent domain and employee relocation, among other things.


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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