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Lewes, Delaware
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August 14, 1998     Cape Gazette
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August 14, 1998

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Continued from page 6 the Cape Gazette, This states that you sympathize with the bond bill language mandating a bikeway through Cape Henlopen State Park, linking Lewes and Re- hoboth, and that "we've talked about building a trail for almost 20 years. It is time to build it." I take issue with these com- ments as follows: l) The fact that the project has remained in the talking stage for 20 years should itself be a "red flag" that it either serves too small a constituency (namely the few cyclists who lack an environmen- tal conscience), or that the trail through dunes and marsh would too expensive or too controversial to build. 2) Hopefully the majority of Americans are significantly more environmentally aware than they were 20 years ago. An idea that may have seemed a good one then can be totally unacceptable by to- day's more enlightened standards. Any bikeway through the exist- ing state park's boundaries to link Lewes with Rehoboth would have to run to one side or the other of Gordon's Pond. On the ocean side it would have to run across the dunes. On the inland side there is presently a pedestrian path which is very narrow, in places measur- ing less than 6 feet wide. This is less than the width of a bulldozer or a gravel truck. As this path runs northward in the direction of Her- ring Point, it actually runs through marshy wetlands and across the dunes. The process of "improv- ing" the path would necessarily cause severe damage to both these sensitive environments. If anyone in the private sector were to try to create an "im- proved" pathway through wet- lands and/or dunes, DNREC would be down on the perpetrators with the full regulatory might of the state of Delaware. It seems grossly wrong that DNREC is now being asked to be both the perpe- trator and the policeman. These wetlands and dunes, along with their scarce and fragile flora and fauna, must be preserved. Future generations of Delawareans de- serve this. I would strongly urge you and your fellow legislators to walk the full length of the Gordon's Pond Nature Trail for yourselves to be able to appreciate just what a jew- el our state needs to preserve. Gavin Braithwaite Lewes Dennis Forney More thoughts on park bike path In regards to the proposed bike path that seems to be dominating our news pages, there are few points that need to be brought out. With the passing of the recent bond bill, the state of Delaware and its elected officials have man- dated that the state park develop and/or complete the bike path from Lewes to Rehoboth in the coming fiscal year. It is basically the last step toward the completion of a project that has been going on for 20-some years, and should be well-received by tourists and resi- dents alike. However, after several recent public meetings, it has been made clear that the Master Plan Steering Committee has absolute- ly no plans to place it in the state park. On the contrary, they were very specific in their desire to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase farmland between Lewes and Rehoboth to use the old railroad bed as a bike path, as had been rumored in recent years. In my opinion, this is absolutely ridiculous. We have already de- veloped half the bike path within the state park system, and the re- sults have been wonderful. The ride along the Great Dune and through the park is beautiful and something we should be proud to show residents and tourists alike. The use of the state park as the bike path route has many obvious benefits, mainly the safety and se- curity of those using it. There are already parking lots and existing roads in place at either end, and have been for many years. Access, security and the use/misuse of the path can be controlled at either end by the existing state park per- sonnel, and is already patrolled daily in the summer months. As a resident of Lewes, I am aware and concerned about the environmen- tal issues involved in the Gordon's Pond area. However, in Gordon's Pond, there is an existing roadway system that has been there for 50 years. As a child I used to drive back there with my father, and the ride was beautiful. I am sure we could find a way to enjoy those ar- eas without destroying them, as we have in other areas in our state. With all due respect to the steer- ing committee and the time they have spent evaluating this master plan, ! have to question the logic of some of their decisions. We were told they spent $220,000 on studies in the Gordon's Pond area, and those studies said they could not place a path there. Who autho- rized these studies and their ex- penditures? Where are the results? What animals or birds would be endangered by an already existing road? A study commissioned by John Bryson done in 1973 by Main Engineering recommended, among other things, that a bike path could be put in place on the existing roadway area. This study was part of a then "master plan" that seems to have been followed. Development of the parking area, bath house, etc. all followed these recommendations. There is even an existing diagram supporting the plans. The steering committee also recommended the purchase of ex- isting farmland west of the canal from Lewes to Rehoboth under the guise of open space preservation, when in reality they want to place the bike path on the existing rail- road bed. There has been mention of a few other plans for the "open space," such as a campground with hookups, such as Delaware CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, August 14 - August 20, 1998 - 7 Seashore Park, and a parking lot for shuttle buses to the park. To quote the old song, "Pave paradise and put up a parking lot." This presents a whole new set of prob- lems, mainly the control of the bike path. Who will police it? The Delaware State Police have enough problems with all the traf- fic programs and the like. Security for this path would be almost im- possible due to its length and loca- tion, and access could be obtained any hour of the day or night. This presents additional problems for the residential areas that border this bike path, with the increase in crime that is likely to follow. Most of the members of the steering committee don't even know where this bike path would go and its proximity to certain neighbor- hoods, such as Wolfe Runne and The Glade. This path would liter- ally be 30 feet from my back door! Again, with all due respect to the steering committee, I have to wonder how they feel they are rep- resenting the people of Sussex County. They have done no stud- ies concerning the impact of a bike path outside the park boundaries, nor have they polled anyone con- cerning where the public might like this path. It was my under- standing that the steering commit- tee was to develop a master plan for the existing State Park. It seems they may have overstepped their bounds in finding alterna- tives, such as spending tens of mil- lions of dollars to purchase farm- land, such as the $3 million-plus given for the Rust farm. I think we could find some better use of tax- payer dollars than the ones afore- mentioned. I hope this letter will open the eyes of a lot of the public who may not be aware of what is happening. It seems very easy to just "put it on the railroad bed" and be done with it. In speaking to a lot of neighbors and to the general public, you will soon come to see that there is more support and feeling for this path to go through the state park than people think. And I think it's time the steering committee opened its eyes. Ron Scrutchfield Lewes More comments on park bike path The Cape Henlopen State Park Steering Committee has devel- oped a commendable list of rec- ommendations for improving and upgrading the park. There is one item, though, that I believe should be deleted from their list: It is the recommendation to close the roads to the Point parking lot and the T building. Those two places are the only sites in the park that visitors can see the ocean from their ears. I think that the steering committee members should keep in mind that a substantial proportion of the vis- itors to the Point and the T build- ing are older folks who might not be up to a hike through the sand to the ocean. A trip to the Point to watch the sun set over the bay or a visit to Continued on page 8 Southwest wind came briefly and we finished the circumnavigation Steve Oldham stood among a small group of men setting pilings around the perimeter of an oyster- shelled parking lot. When the pil- ing they were placing dropped in- to the hole, water splashed out. The water may have been the remnants of a heavy rain that fell the night before or, more proba- bly, simply the high water table that gets even higher when the tide rises in the Delaware Bay-front community of Bowers Beach. Dave Termotto and I had just stepped off the Delmarva Explorer looking for gasoline during the last leg of the Great Circumnavi- gation of Delmarva, 1998, in a pontoonboat. We started out at dawn from Delaware City Marina where the faint odor of crude oil being re- fined at the Star Enterprises refin- ery half a mile away hung in the air. After a week's layover in Delaware City due to the same northeast winds that played havoc with Rehoboth's beach replenish- ment project, we finished the trip. The rain the night before soaked the engine and the wildly gyrating weather must have streaked our fuel with moisture from condensa- tion. After an hour's worth of stroking the engine and bathing it in WD-40. TM, it finally sputtered to life. But it still wanted drier fuel so we were forced to also change the fuel filter. Those things done, the engine purred like a freshly fed cat lying in a pool of warm sun, shining through a winter- chilled window, being scratched gently between its eyes by a fawn- ing owner. Everything, especially cats and outboard engines, likes attention. When we left the canal at Delaware City, Steve Oldham knew nothing of our trip or our eventual arrival in Bowers about 25 miles down the bay, and we knew nothing of Steve Oldham. The promised southwest wind for which we had waited more than a week blew sweetly off the Delaware shore. Small waves punctuated the bay at Artificial Is- land where a New Jersey crabber worked his pots in the shadow of the great cloud machine - the cool- ing tower for the nuclear power BAREF00TIN' plant at Salem, N.J. Crossing the bay from east to west, headed southward toward Lewes, we barely remained up- right as the huge wake from a tanker heavy with crude oil chased us down. The tanker's bulbous bow pushed a 10-foot wall of wa- ter ahead of it creating a short, deeply troughed wake that the Delmarva Explorer found none- too pleasant. The wake saved the last of its approximately eight waves for best. That breaking wave crested sharply as it lifted our port pontoon precariously above us. The engine screamed as the prop left the water briefly be- fore the wave lifted our starboard pontoon and dropped us back again to the flatter bay. The engine hesitated briefly, like a bodysurfer shaking his head after being rolled and disoriented by a powerful breaker. Then it re- sumed its healthy pace and intu- itively told us to stay away from any more wakes of that variety. Delaware Bay broadens dramat- ically below Artificial Island. Moving away from the channel to run the Delaware shore, we en- countered no more devil wakes along the way. We finished off half our fuel just north of Bowers Beach, switched tanks and headed for the Murderkill River entrance where the town is located. At Delaware City we were with- in millions of gallons of freshly refined gasoline. With the right wind, we could have run our en- gine off the fumes in the air. At Continued on page 8 Cwm rmey photo A vintage Delaware Bay oyster dredger, Maggie Myers, sits at a dock in the Murderkill River at Bowers Beach.