Sussex County Debates its Role in Building Parks - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Debates its Role in Building Parks


SEAFORD, Del.- The Sussex County Council voted this week to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the re-purposing of a park in the Seaford area. This was despite stark opposition from two of the five members, who thought county money should not be spent on the process. 

The park in question is a 41-acre plot of land, known as Woodland Park. The lot is dilapidated, closed off from the public, and in need of repairs. On Tuesday the council voted 3-2 to accept money from the state partially to build a park with walking trails. 

Half of the land will be used to store dredged materials from the Nanticoke River, a use that has received little complaints from the Council members. However, the second half, which will be used to create the park, has created more concerns amongst more conservative members. 

The state has agreed to pay $107,000 for the total project, but engineers estimate that the total cost will be approximately $142,900. Council members Vance Phillips from District 5 and Sam Wilson from District 2, voiced their opinions with the project, arguing the county should not pay money for parks. 

"We're going to lose the conservative nature of our county finances," Vance said.

Phillips emphasized Sussex County is unique, due to its decision not to have a Parks and Recreation Department. Phillips said the county rarely contributes money towards park projects, leaving that instead to the state and municipalities. 

"Sussex County government kinda has a deal with the folks who live here," he said. "You don't ask us for a lot of services. And we won't ask you for a lot of tax money. And this is one of those services. A park - and the associated costs that go with a park. That concerns me in the long term."

Others though argue that the county should take a larger role, when it comes to the building and maintenance of parks. Bob and Pam Christian were down the road by the Nanticoke River, taking photos. 

"That's the reason we came down to the shore," Pam said looking out at the waterway. "To see the beauty and everything we have in nature that we can take advantage of." 

She said the county simply needed to reorganize their priorities. 

"Absolutely it's about priorities," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'd be happy to be taxed to develop the land into parks and recreation areas for everyone to enjoy. 

Phillips said the decision not to have a Parks and Recreation Department is saving the county thousands of dollars, if not more. 

"You look at Wicomico County or the other Delaware counties," he said. "Their Parks and Recreation Departments are costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. They don't bring revenue in. Right now we have plenty of parks in Sussex County." 

Down the road, 17-year-old Barry Wyatt of Bethel said politics aside, he just wants a park. Without a nearby park, he said he and his friends often play in the street and a couple years earlier, his cousin was hit by a car. Although his cousin had a full recovery, Wyatt said he thought a park would be good news. 

"The cars fly down here at like 70 [mph]", he said. "So we need a park down there so we can just come down the side of the road, and go play there instead of getting hit." 




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