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UDaily: Delaware Sea Grant helps town balance environment, development along riverfront

UDaily: Delaware Sea Grant helps town balance environment, development along riverfront

During the 1800s, the southern Delaware community of Laurel exemplified small-town life in America: The economy centered around grain and lumber mills along the river running through town, and the surrounding tree-lined streets of Victorian houses provided family homes for generations. Quaint charm remains in the many historical landmarks in Laurel today, but the downtown area experienced decline over time. Businesses and housing development gradually shifted east toward Route 13, the main transportation artery, and industrial operations along Broad Creek took an environmental toll.

Looking to improve water quality both locally in the river and as part of a regional effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the town is reimagining the riverfront with help from the Delaware Sea Grant College Program (DESG) and UD landscape design faculty and students. The project involves town leaders, developers, environmental regulators — and hopefully, increased participation from residents.

“Delaware Sea Grant is experienced in encouraging productive conversation and understanding the values of different groups,” said Ed Lewandowski, Delaware Sea Grant’s coastal communities development specialist.