A while ago (2 months) I spoke with Charles Salkin the Director of Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation about the proposed National Park for Delaware. I forgot to publish this over seven weeks ago, and I apologize for that. I have been very busy and thought this article had been published (by the person whom was supposed to do so). Basically I wanted to know if the proposed parks would create issues with our existing parks and beaches. There has been, and still is, a lot of innuendo and rumor in the community about this park. I hope this helps alleviate these concerns. Personally I think it is great idea, so long as it helps Delaware, and does not hinder the community or its residents. Russ Smith and Charles Salkin were very helpful answering my questions. I asked other groups their concerns and was just sent opinions not backed by facts that were not helpful. Opinions are great, but better when backed by facts.
This interview was done via email and has been copied as it was received. Nothing has been altered or changed. The authors of the answered questions are as follows ….
Russ Smith … Superintendent … Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP (answered questions and quoted)
Charles Salkin … Director … Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation (His answers have his name in parenthesis)
As promised, I have coordinated with the National Park Service to get answers to your questions. The lion’s share of the response comes from Russ Smith who will soon become the first superintendent of the First State National Monument (in the meantime, he is still in Virginia as noted below). My brief contributions are noted in the text.
Where exactly will the Proposed National Park be located? What will be the park’s name, or is that something the public gets to vote on??
What are some features of First State National Monument?
First State National Monument was created by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013, making it the 400th unit of the National Park System. With this designation, Delaware has its first national park area and there are now national parks in all 50 states. The name was established by the Presidential Proclamation so there is no public vote.
The national monument boundary includes lands primarily in New Castle and Kent Counties in Delaware. The national monument includes:
× Dover Green (Kent County) – Laid out in 1717, it was on the city of Dover’s central square, known as The Green, that Delaware voted to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Throughout the years, it has also been the location of many rallies, troop reviews, and other patriotic events. Today, The Green remains the heart of Dover’s historic district and is the location of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse. The Dover Green will be managed under an easement which means that it will be protected from harmful changes.
× New Castle Court House (New Castle County) The court house was the first capital of the state and its State House (1776-1777). In June, 1776, it is where both the state of Delaware was created when it separated from Pennsylvania and the legislature acted to become independent from Great Britain. In 1848, the principles of the Declaration of Independence were put to the test when abolitionists Thomas Garrett and John Hunn were tried here, found guilty, and fined for helping enslaved people emancipate themselves.
× Sheriff’s House (New Castle County) – Built in 1858, the Victorian brownstone building, which sits behind the Court House, served as both the home of the sheriff and as the administrative site for the attached prison which, together with the adjoining New Castle Court House, served as the center of New Castle County’s justice system. This structure is all that remains of the first county prison in Delaware. It was donated to the National Park Service by the State of Delaware for inclusion in the national monument.
× Woodlawn Tract (New Castle County) – The Woodlawn Tract is more than 1,100 acres of woods and rolling pastures three miles north of Wilmington (220 of which are in Delaware County, Pennsylvania) including the Ramsey Farm, Upland Forest, scenic rock outcrops and wetlands along the banks of the Brandywine River. The property is historically significant to the early settlement in Delaware, and straddles and contains the demarcation line known as the “12-mile arc,” which is a part of a circle drawn from the Old New Castle Courthouse, establishing the boundaries of William Penn’s colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware. In addition, the property still contains homes dating back to some of the first Quakers that settled the area with William Penn, and likely contains landscape patterns of these original Quaker settlements. The tract was acquired by the Conservation Fund from the Woodlawn Trustees and donated to the National Park Service for inclusion in the national monument.
The National Monument is a partnership park. The only land owned outright by the NPS is the Woodlawn Tract and the Sheriff’s House.
Will this National Park affect or compete with our State Parks? If yes, how so?
The National Park Service(NPS) does not compete with State Parks, rather the NPS works cooperatively with state, federal and local agencies.
What advantages for Delaware will having a National Park create? (Economic, social, political) Will it contribute to local economies? (surrounding communities)
First State National Monument may be Delaware’s first national park unit, but the National Park Service has been assisting communities in Delaware for decades. Delaware has:
- 689 National Register of Historic Places listings
- $135,235,136 of historic rehabilitation projects stimulated by tax incentives (since 1995)
- 13 National Historic Landmarks
- $36,874,038 in Land & Water Conservation Fund grants (since 1965)
- 2,444 acres transferred by Federal Lands to Parks for local parks and recreation (since 1948)
- $18,828,672 in historic preservation grants (since 1967)
- 17 community conservation and recreation projects (since 1987)
- 392 places recorded by heritage documentation programs
- 5 Certified Local Governments
- 2 Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans
- 3 Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itineraries
National Parks continue to be important economic engines for local communities, with visitors generating $30.1 billion in economic activity and supporting over 250,000 jobs nationwide in 2011. The statistics for 2011 are based on the spending of nearly 279 million national park visitors; more than one third of that total spending, or $13 billion, went directly into communities within 60 miles of a park.
New parks like First State National Monument take some time to build visitation. Through cooperative and collaborative partnerships the NPS hopes to build interest in visiting the park. The park is already benefiting by being included in National Park System listings and publicity.
Will the park create jobs for Delawareans?
Programming and facilities are currently operated through our partners. Eventually, staff will be hired and projects will be funded. The park’s primary economic benefit will be to the tourism industry.
When is this park construction going to start and will it affect any of our hunters, anglers, beach goers, or bird watchers? Where will this occur?
A management plan for the new park will be completed withing three years. It will be developed through a public process and will only affect those properties included in the park.
Will the park reduce costs for Delawareans (taxes)?
The park will not reduce taxes directly, but will benefit tourism and enhance the state’s efforts through partnerships in planning, programming, and other cooperative ventures.
Do the Fort Miles proposals I keep reading about have anything to do with the National Park? Could this new museum be used in anyway to shut down beach access in Cape Henlopen State Park for surfers, anglers, and birders.
(Charles Salkin) 1) There is no connection of any kind between the projects underway at the Fort Miles Historic Area at Cape Henlopen State Park and the new National Monument.
2) No. (second part of the question)
There are many people that feel the NPS is going to use the park to take Delaware’s Beaches and shut them down for birds; costs of maintenance (sequester); make more money for the fed government …. or be regulated federally just like Assateague and Hatteras. Will the NPS “create” a danger or window for the fed government and the powerful lobbies to shut down our beaches or waterways?
None of these areas are included in the National Monument.
Will any of these projects affect Beach Plum Island? Prime Hook is a national Preserve, will that be affected as well?
No. These areas are not included in the National Monument.
What is your personal opinion on the National Park?
(Charles Salkin) The Division of Parks and Recreation is very pleased to welcome the National Park Service to an expanded and more prominent role in Delaware. They are recognized around the world for their expertise and leadership in park management, resource protection, research, outdoor recreation and environmental education and interpretation. We look forward to working with them and lots of Delawareans to develop the site management plans that will define our opportunities to establish formal cooperative working agreements and meaningful partnerships. We have a lot to learn from one another.
Thank you gentlemen for taking the time to answer these questions, and again i apologize this took so long to publish I was under the impression it had been. I have come to the conclusion that since the National Park is up north (New Castle and Kent Counties) we will have no issues in Sussex county. Creating jobs and a larger space for tourism will help bring money into many communities. Seems like a win win for the state to me, though it was unique being the only state without a National Park, it was bound to happen eventually. One of the things pointed out to me by Charles Salkin when I spoke with him, was the fact our parks here with the beaches are a money maker the state would never just give away. It would be like handing over a diamond mine that was producing, you just don’t do that. If anyone has any questions you can contact the Division of Parks or send me an email and I will forward it to the right people. Keep in mind if you are comparing this to the problems with the beach access in North Carolina or Assateague Island it is comparing apples to oranges.