During a meet-and-greet last night, Mayor Dennis Williams met with members of Wilmington's business community inside the Hercules Building to discuss several improvements in store for the city's downtown.

Alongside Downtown Visions, the management company for the city's business improvement district, Williams highlighted the increased police presence along Market Street and around Rodney Square, tasked with addressing panhandling, loitering and disorderly conduct.

Mayor Williams' hope is that the stepped-up patrols will increase the safety downtown, and in turn, bolster business; patrols, he says, that will remain a permanent fixture to the downtown community. "It will be a fixed post. It will not be a case where we eradicate the problem and move on," Williams said. "Downtown is our life blood. Without it our city will not survive."

The mayor also spoke about upcoming projects including a proposed expansion of Wilmington's trolley-bus route, upcoming improvements to H. Fletcher Brown Park and the installation of "dark fiber" at McConnell Johnson's building, which could potentially attract high-tech companies in need of high-speed access to worldwide computer networks.

Currently, the trolley system covers a limited portion of downtown, but in the months ahead, Williams says the route will likely expand to include the Christina riverfront, 12th Street and Delaware Avenue. The trolley fare would also be decreased from $1.15 to $1.00.

For their centennial project, the Wilmington Rotary Club is looking into building a new amphitheater, a multi-use recreation and environmental education area and new entrance points at Fletcher Brown Park.

"Each of these improvements indicate that downtown Wilmington continues to move in a positive and progressive direction. Downtown is the heartbeat of our city, and that's why it is important for us to work closely with members of the business community to ensure downtown continues to thrive," said Williams.

Williams says downtown businesses generate 70 percent of the city's revenue.