Thursday, February 2, 2017

Proposed Lidl in Ogletown eyed for active transportation accommodations
The Route 4 corridor through Ogletown has seen lots of changes over the last few decades. More recently, it was among the first chosen to receive retrofitted bike lanes/shared right turn-only lanes, helping increase safety for commuters.

In terms of land use, it was announced in September that Lidl, a German grocery chain, will be replacing Vince's Sports Center at the corner of Gender Road. The company appears committed to saving as much as 70% of the property (currently a 3-hole golf course) as open space, signing into agreement with neighboring residents. That would be an amazing goodwill gesture on the part of Lidl, given the pressure they now face with the proposed development of the Orphanage Property. In essence, it can be viewed as a re-development project that replaces an existing facility and preserves its green space.

Our Vince's-Lidl site survey has been on line for a few months, drawing 67 participants so far. The above 70% open space could be reduced to 50±% if residents get their wish for a coffee shop and/or outdoor cafe. Place-making is sorely needed in Ogletown, and many residents - even those that only drive - favor bike lane and pathway connections to nearby communities. Ange Connolly, co-admin of Save the Orphanage Property (STOP), serves on the Lidl Working Group, and presented the results in a meeting on Feb 1. In addition to place-making, she will be advocating for APBP-Standard bike parking and safe bike/ped pathway connections to Route 4 and its active transportation facilities.

As an aside, if we are to slowly but surely transform the built environment into something more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, we must have a voice in these projects early in the planning phase. And not just with new projects; advocates need to focus their energy and resources on retrofitting the suburbs. For active transportation commuters today, the construction of modern, transit-oriented developments (TODs) as an answer is way past its time. The built environment is already built, and most of our remaining open space - especially in New Castle County - is either environmentally critical or otherwise being hotly contested for parks and preservation needs.

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