A new beautification process is now underway near the Wilmington Riverfront.
In an effort to spruce up an unusued lot near the Wilmington Riverfront, the Delaware Department of Natural Resouces and Environmental Control and Delaware Center for Horticulture planted a meadow on the side of the road nearby last week.
"It’s an eye-catching spot. It basically is bringing nature back into an urban environment," said Martha Stephens, the public landscape manager for the Delaware Center for Horticulture.
The lot is about 64 by 144 ft and is close to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's air quality monitoring station at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Justiston St., where DNREC measures ozone and sulfer dioxide levels, temperatures and humidity.
But for a station monitoring air quality and the quality of Delaware's environment, it wasn't a very environmentally-friendly area, said Charles Sarnoski, the program manager for the ambient air monitoring group of the Division of Air Quality.
"There were empty liquor bottles, syringes, dirty clothes, trash, weeds, that kind of stuff," Sarnoski said.
Before the air quality monitoring site was was established in 1999, the space was a railyard.
Now, about eight different species of native grasses and plants, and three evergreen trees are growing in the area. Sarnoski said for the aesthetic appeal, it should pair well with the Wilmington Riverfront.
"This is sort of a gateway to Wilmington. If I come off the highway from some other part of the country and this is maybe my first time in Wilmington and I say 'oh look at all this trash', it just looks like nobody cares," Sarnoski said.
He continued, "But when you're walking down the street and you see plants and things are taken care of, it gives you a better feeling than when you're walking and you see empty liquor bottles, trash and people discarding things."
The plants will give the area a “subtle flow of color," Stephens said, and they've already started growing since the group finished the project.
"I can’t believe how much they’ve grown within a short period of time, within a week. I would say by the end of this growing season they will be not quite to their full potential, but almost there, and then by next year they will definitely be fully grown," Stephens said.
Sarnoski said they spent about $9,000 to create and plant the meadow.
Environmental officials and the Center for Horticulture say once the plants grow, the meadow will serve as a habitat for native pollinators.