Code violations, parks the focus of questions at town hall meeting

By Tom Lehman 12:27am, April 4, 2013 - Updated 11:21am, April 4, 2013
Interviews with Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Jeff Starkey, Wilmington City Councilman Samuel Prado, Wilmington resident Gina Delle Donne and Parks and Rec. Director Claude McCrea
Code violations and city parks continued to be the focus of many questions posed to Mayor Williams' staff at Wednesday night's town hall meeting.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports:

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Wilmington City Councilman Sammy Prado says it's not surprising that West Side residents raised their concerns over properties with code violations in their neighborhoods.

"You have alleyways here in the Hilltop that you don't even know there's an alley there because the trees are overgrown, people put trash back there," Prado says.

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Prado says the area's high concentration of rental housing leads to many of the code violations.

Jeff Starkey, commissioner of the Licenses and Inspections department, agrees with Prado and says he wasn't surprised by the number of questions and concerns from West Side residents about code violations.

He says inspectors will be focusing on the areas behind and between many West Side homes.

"We want to focus on getting these individuals to clean these alleys up, so at least emergency vehicles can get back there as well as inspectors so we can survey the area back there," Starkey says.

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Starkey says the department is continuing to perform walking tours throughout the city to identify code violations.

Issues surrounding city parks and recreational opportunities also drew comment from some West Side residents like Gina Delle Donne, who says allocating more money for city parks should be a priority for the Williams administration.

"If we could keep a lot of these kids off the streets and keep them busy, then their minds will stay in the parks and not to destroy the parks basically," Delle Donne says.

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She was among the residents who expressed their concerns about opportunities for the city's youth at the meeting.

Claude McCrea, the city's director of Parks and Recreation says the department is looking for ways to try and help the city's park system, even if extra funding isn't available.

"Dollars are always a concern and I think the key when you don't have dollars is to leverage your partnerships and raise funds when possible," McCrea says.

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Earlier this week, Mayor Williams said he wanted to reopen Canby Pool and would open swimming areas earlier this year. McCrea says the department is also looking for funding from outside the city to help support city parks.

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