Community center breaks boundaries in Edgemoor Gardens

    A neighborhood frequently stigmatized as an area of crime, dangerous behaviors and drugs is fighting back this week as it welcomes the opportunity for a fresh start.

    A neighborhood frequently stigmatized as an area of crime, dangerous behaviors and drugs is fighting back this week as it welcomes the opportunity for a fresh start.

    Dozens of residents in the Edgemoor Gardens, located off Governor Printz Boulevard in Wilmington, celebrated the grand opening of the neighborhood’s new resource center on South Rodney Street this Saturday.

    With its brightly colored walls and stylish modern furniture, the refurbished 1940s style row home will serve as a safe haven for the area’s youth to be used for education, recreation and community service. It is also planned to be used as a local hub for counseling services, neighborhood meetings, art lessons and even cooking classes.

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    It’s the only one of its kind in the Edgemoor Gardens neighborhood.

    Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative Director Cheri Whitney is a resident of Edgemoor Gardens who has been influential in the center’s creation. She says Edgemoor residents are thrilled to finally have the chance to be part of a community.

    “A lot of people here feel isolated like they are out floating on an island in the middle of very affluent homes,” Whitney says, “It makes for a difficult relationship between our development and the development next door.”

    Whitney attributes the isolation to what she calls a poor investor ratio within the community. The ERC statistics show that 70 percent of residents rent their properties while only 30 percent own their homes, which Whitney says makes people less apt to invest in what seems to be a transient community.

    “Society as a whole made a mistake when they chose to build bigger houses with bigger fences with bigger locks and they don’t know who their neighbors are,” Whitney says, “So, we want to make our community a community again”

    It all started after the Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative was awarded with a $145,000 Community Development Block Grant to be used for initial acquistion and rehabilitation fees. The effort was then supported through a $300,000 Community Learning Center Grant as well as additional funding from New Castle County, Blueprint Communities and DuPont Edgemoor.

    However, the center is still a work in progress. Nearly $300,000 in program and service funding is needed to support a new high-tech media lab, quality after-school programs, transportation services to the Edgemoor Community Center and a sanctuary cafe on the center’s patio.

    Councilman John Cartier has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground. He says it’s all part of a strategic long-term initative to address a community which has been very troubled and distressed throughout the years.

    “It’s extremely gratifying and exciting,” Cartier says, “I’ve never had the attitude that Edgemoor Gardens was a hopeless place, I always throught that through partnerships we could bring a measure of social peace”

    Briagner Gibson of Edgemoor Gardens made her way over to the resource center today to drop off a community volunteer form. She is hoping this center will be a means to get her volunteer requirements filled for class. She says she is looking forward to the benefits this center will bring to her community. “It symbolizes peace so our neighborhood can stay calm”

    Whitney says she hopes to form a youth council in the future as an effort to get kids off the street and into a productive environment. “We want to be able to expose them to things like civic issues and let them know they have a voice, and if they work hard enough they can make a change” Whitney says.

    Councilman Cartier agrees with Whitney that the opening of this center is just the beginning. “It’s a starting point,” Whitney says, “We are the hub and we are going to just run our arms out as far as they’ll reach”

    Anyone interested in donating to the Edgemoor Resource House can call (302) 762-4455

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