WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.), West Side Grows Together and the City of Wilmington announced a $306,447 federal grant award from the U.S. Department of the Interior to Father Tucker Park.
Father Tucker Park, located at the corner of Howland and Scott streets, has been a cornerstone of the Little Italy neighborhood for years, providing a place for children to play, a picnic area for community gatherings, and a baseball field home to a host of adult sports league activities. Every year, the Italian Festival welcomes more than 120,000 visitors to the park for a week of events benefiting St. Anthony’s Parish. Despite its important place in the life of our community, Father Tucker Park shows signs of wear and tear. In addition, its playground equipment is outdated.
“Thousands of people enjoy Father Tucker Park each year, and these improvements will have a tremendous impact to the West Side neighborhood,” said Senator Carper. “This is an excellent example of what we do best in Delaware – all levels of government working together with businesses and residents to respond to the community’s needs in a collaborative way.”
“Our parks in Wilmington, and in Delaware, are one of the aspects that makes life in Delaware special,” said Senator Coons. “I am thrilled that more than $300,000 in federal funds will go to breathe new life back into Father Tucker Park – a location that holds such a special place in the hearts of so many Delawareans.”
“I’m excited that Father Tucker Park has been awarded this grant,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “This is a wonderful example of all that can be accomplished when we all work together toward the common good, and I’m thrilled the park will be renovated and maintained for future generations to enjoy.”
Five years ago, improving neighborhood parks and green spaces was identified as a top priority by the more than 650 West Side residents who took part in developing the West Side Revitalization Plan. This plan was developed by Cornerstone West CDC with multi-year support from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to promote resident-driven comprehensive community development. Other partners include the City of Wilmington, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware General Assembly, State Representative Helene Keeley, 5th district Neighborhood Planning Council, 7th District Neighborhood Planning Council, Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, Longwood Foundation, and the National Park Service.
“There is strength in numbers when it comes to repairing neighborhoods and improving lives, so I could not be more pleased than to know that we are all taking these steps together to assist entire communities,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “The City is very encouraged by a continual outpouring of involvement and support from the community for this project and so many others. That’s a good sign for the future as our local government and the state and federal governments partner with the community to bring about much needed changes in neighborhood living.”
“The defining principle of the West Side Plan is that residents themselves guide the vision for the future of their neighborhoods, take part in making that vision a reality, and benefit from improvements,” said Henry Smith III, West Side Grows Together steering committee president.
Residents like Alethea Smith-Tucker expressed their appreciation for the joint efforts to bring new life to the community through park improvements.
“Thank you this chance to be a part of something that will leave a lasting mark and bring joy and play to our neighborhood,” said Smith-Tucker, West Side resident and Friends of the Parks member.
The grant was awarded through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program for a playground and spray pad. The ORLP is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For more than 50 years, the LWCF has invested revenue from federal offshore oil and gas royalties into more than 40,000 outdoor recreation facilities and conservation projects in every state.
Congress created the ORLP program in 2014 to complement the agency's existing LWCF State and Local Assistance Program. The program, administered by the National Park Service, seeks to identify and highlight new ways of providing opportunities for expanding outdoor play in areas with great need, as well as promoting the development of new or enhanced partnerships for outdoor recreation in urban communities across the nation. The grants must be matched at a minimum 1:1 ratio, at least doubling the impact of the federal investment in these communities.