Fenwick Island State Park’s Proposal and Partnership
Delaware State Parks is hosting an open house about a possible partnership with the Orsted offshore wind energy company and their offshore wind turbine farm, The Skipjack
The Fenwick Island State Park open house Wednesday night, Oct 2nd at 5 PM to 7 PM for the public to see the proposed improvements. Located at the Fenwick Island Town Hall, 800 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island. All of these improvements will only happen if Orsted gets the approval to do the Skipjack wind farm and all the proper permits.
Fenwick Island State park has several issues that need to be addressed and despite a company like Orsted partnering up with parks. Fenwick Island State Park still needs a lot of work and soon. The parking lots flood, and parking is an issue during the summer. This last year alone the park was to capacity fifty times, with cars lined up along route 1. That line is dangerous and inconvenient, with only one exit and entrance for emergency vehicles. “If there were a bad storm and everyone wanted or had to leave it becomes a real issue” … said Ray Bivens, Director of Delaware State Parks.
There is a lot of proposed improvements for the entire Fenwick Island State park area that exists now, with a little more than half an acre of additional space needed. Offices, visitor center, nature center, event facilities, first aid, playground for the kids, pickle ball courts, a small pavilion, a parking deck to increase parking (by about 40%), and reducing the existing parking lot footprint as well. There would be a crossover bridge over route 1 to connect the oceanside of the park to the bayside Visitors could use each side of the park without driving or walking across route 1. Fenwick Island town residents will be able to walk or ride bikes to the park with an added walking path. Instead of using route 1. Cars would be able to enter and exit from either a south or north access road.
The beauty of this partnership, Delaware State Parks won’t have to spend a dime for these improvements. Fenwick Island State Park would also become the first park in the United States to run entirely on wind farm energy. I spoke with Ray Bivens this morning (Tuesday) about all of these proposed improvements. I have to say they look great! The park will not be an eyesore as some have worried, not anymore than it already is now. In fact these upgrades will be a huge improvement in both function and aesthetics, with a lot of amenities for visitors.
None of these improvements will affect surf fishing anglers. The surf fishing beaches will still be the same, just a better facility for walk on anglers and beach users at the main park area.
Me … “Will parks put a parking lot at say York crossing for bathers and surf anglers? I think having more access for walk on anglers would be great.”
Ray Bivens … “We can’t add parking at the crossovers due to environmental conditions and requirements for plants and animals.”
Me .. “That makes sense since the area is all natural still and somewhat protected. That also creates an advantage for surf anglers, only vehicles will be able to access these areas easily, just like it is now. Nothing will change.”
Orsted’s partnership will involve the company bringing a transmission line in under the park to the bayside, into a transfer station that will be built onsite. This way Orsted can bring in electricity from the Skipjack wind farm. That station will be under an elevated structure or deck that will have pickle ball courts, and other features for the public. This structure and the parking deck oceanside will be hidden by natural plants, dunes, and trees. Not an eyesore at all. Not to mention Fenwick Island State park will benefit from the sustainable electricity. Reducing the power costs for state parks. All tolled Orsted has proposed to spend 15 million plus dollars to build all of these improvements. There is also a possible plan for a second phase which Orsted will also foot the bill.
Another needed facility that will be advantageous to parks and visitors. Housing for lifeguards for Fenwick Island and Delaware Seashore State Park. Located on the bayside near the Coastal Kayak facility. This will give the lifeguards a place to live near where they work, just like Cape Henlopen State Parks’ dorms used for lifeguards. This will make working for parks more attractive, you get a paycheck and place to live for the summer, at the beach. Something many people can not afford. Traveling to and from work in the summer as we all know can be a nightmare
The current Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of commerce building will be moved to Holts Landing State Park for staff housing. Creating more of a security presence at Holts Landing. The Chamber of Commerce will move to the Fenwick Island State park new building. This will house the chamber, offices, nature center, and visitors center. The chamber now sells park passes, and will continue with this proposal.
These improvements in my opinion are needed. There are many that will say Fenwick Island State park is fine the way it is, but honestly it is not. Old buildings that are falling apart, under sized bathroom facilities that can’t handle the flow of people. A aprking lot that is flooding constantly and full of potholes. Parks would have to spend a lot of money to fix all of these issues. Orsted’s proposed partnership will fix all these issues and let parks create a much nicer area that will take up very little added space. With the tree and dune lines built up people won’t be able to see much of anything from route 1. If you don’t know, parks is almost 65% self sustaining, meaning they have to make money to support projects etc. This will be a win win for parks and visitors.
There are plenty of partnerships and concessions with parks that exist already and they have all worked out to benefit the parks and the public. If this is all approved it could be started as early as 2021. Without affecting the park during the summer months with any closures.
There are a few small features and advantages I haven’t mentioned, because frankly there is a lot being proposed. Check out the meeting Wednesday night Oct 2nd, at the Fenwick Island Town Hall 5 to 7 PM and decide for yourself. If you can not attend the open house parks is taking public comments for the next three weeks on the Fenwick Island Proposed Improvements webpage (after the workshop is over). The story boards presented at the workshop are below.