The ongoing renovation of Wilmington’s Rodney Square moves forward with a new splash fountain, and the return of the Downtown Farmers Market this summer.
Officials with the City of Wilmington, Downtown Visions and the Rodney Square Conservancy unveiled the fountain Wednesday. It’s part of the multimillion-dollar transformation of the square that started in 2019, funded with both public and private money.
Mayor Mike Purzycki said Wednesday he vowed to “restore” Rodney Square when he first decided to run for Mayor five years ago.
“When the center square of the city just looks so tired and neglected, it doesn’t say much about how we feel about ourselves,” he said.
The square was the subject of public outrage in recent years after business leaders successfully lobbied government officials to remove the de facto bus hub there.
But Puryzcki emphasized inclusivity at Wednesday’s unveiling.
“I want kids to be here,” he said. “I want kids to come to this park and say, this is ours too—it's not just the business community— it belongs to all of us.”
Another controversy arose last year when the City took down a statue of the square’s namesake, Caesar Rodney, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who owned slaves, expecting it could be damaged in protests. Conservative activists protested the removal—and the City said the statue would be stored until community conversations could be held to determine its future. Those meetings have not yet been held, but Purzycki echoed that promise again Wednesday.
The renovations will continue on the 10th Street side of the square.
The Downtown Farmers Market returns to Rodney Square every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through the fall. It features produce, prepared foods, crafts, food trucks—and a Summer Story Time for kids hosted by the Wilmington Public Library.