By Tony E. Windsor

Laurel officials and representatives of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) met recently to discuss progress on plans to construct a “Ramble Walkway.” As part of the state’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), funding was received by the town to help in the development of a walkway that would be part of the Ramble initiative in the middle of town, along the Broad Creek.

The TAP funding is authorized to provide funding for “transportation alternatives” such as “off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation.” 

The plan calls for constructing a walkway that will run through the Tidewater Park, along Central Avenue, and include amenities such as park benches, a shade pavilion and kiosk. Phase I of the project was to begin at Roger C. Fisher Park and make its way toward the Tidewater Park area. This involves a need to secure an easement from the Norfolk Southern Railroad Company in order to allow the pathway to run under the existing railroad bridge.

This easement request has been delayed and resulted in a decision to move to Phase II of the project while awaiting word from the railroad company. This calls for work to begin in Janosik Park along the Broad Creek and is estimated to run about six to 12 months.

According to Town Manager Jamie Smith, the town has been in contact with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper’s office which has agreed to make contact with the railroad company to assist with getting the necessary easement. 

“We will continue to work with the railroad to obtain the easement and once that is obtained begin work on Phase I of the project,” Smith said. “The Phase I work and design can be completed during Phase II construction, so there will be no hold up on progress.”

Also in Laurel town news, the ongoing work to renovate a portion of the Paul Laurence Dunbar school building as a home for the Laurel Police Department has received a boost. According to Town Manager Smith, the town of Laurel was recipient of $750,000 in Bond Bill Funds and an additional $250,000 for HVAC rehab to the building. 

She said the town’s engineer, George, Miles and Buhr, LLC (GMB) is working on plans that can be submitted to the fire marshal for approval. “An evaluation of the heating and air system has been completed and we are waiting on results. This will determine the best type of system to replace the current boiler system. GMB is finalizing plans and all will be submitted to the State Fire Marshal. Once that is complete, we will be obtaining bids,” Smith said.