Wilmington has created a 1.75 mile long Riverwalk, an engineering marvel soon to be the region’s number one tourist attraction. Renaissance Wilmington Foundation continues to focus on amenities and services that will help our region. There are several more projects that RWF has undertaken to bring about improvements to the Riverwalk area.
Improved Visitors Center Riverfront Booth on Market & Water Street:
An enormous number of tourists rely on the Market/Water Street Information Booth and this structure is vitally important for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
RWF has worked with an architect and an Environmental Consultant with CAMA expertise to confirm the feasibility of designing an enclosure to add to the north end. The objective will be weatherizing the small interior space and the visitor space to be enclosed. This will allow the Visitors Bureau to extend the dates and hours when they can stay open, serving residents and visitors more extensively and increasing tourism, revenues to merchants and City. CVB leadership has endorsed the concept.
The plan is to connect the inner set of support beams with side walls and add double doors in the front, primarily using unbreakable glass for visibility, and compatible wood for consistency with the existing design. The Historic Preservation Commission as well as City management and City Council will need to approve of the design. The estimated cost is only $30-40,000, and WDI, the City's contractor for such projects has been advised of RWF's proposal,
Designing a practical, economical shade structure for the Riverwalk:
There is no shade provided anywhere on the 1.75 mile long Riverwalk. There are extended stretches devoid of even an exit to escape the intensity of the sun. Considering what has been invested in the Riverwalk, and the express desire to make the Riverwalk appeal to one million residents and tourists, this is a refinement that must be addressed for the Riverwalk to fulfill its potential.
RWF has within its structure The Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, with 20 or more tree experts and activists. RWF is “fiscal sponsor” to ACFT. Working with them a few locations have been found where trees may provide visual enhancements and shade in the longer term as they grow and overhang the Riverwalk. That could take many years. However, recently ACFT has planted Bald Cypress tree replacements on two Riverwalk fresh spring water inlets as part of our mutual Riverwalk efforts.
What is needed now is a scattering of shade structures on the Riverwalk. They should not be heavy “bus stop” type structures, because the City Engineers are very sensitive to weight and load bearing considerations. Rather, we conceptually favor lightweight shade devices that could be attached to the City’s approved and utilized benches, (or to the railings that border the east side of the Riverwalk),rising up and with a sturdy but lightweight overhead structure creating a curving, partial cocoon that would wrap benches with shade for most, if not all hours as the western sunset progresses. The top material would likely be a sturdy plastic that protects against sun but resists serious storm level winds, so as not to be hazardous or require an impractical removal when storms threaten.
Designing a solar driven water pump to draw Cape Fear River water to the Riverwalk:
The Riverwalk needs niches with planters and flowers for beautification and creating user friendly spaces to stop and quietly enjoy the beauty of “America’s best Riverfront”. Saline tolerant plants such as cactus flowers and other low maintenance, attractive plants could be cultivated in planters with solar panels providing the energy where electrical and fresh water lines do not exist. A sturdy hose into the water below, perhaps with timer or on off switch as part of the water pump.