Soccer club seeks use of City of Lewes-owned land

Canary Creek developer deeded parcel as open space
May 8, 2013
Cape Henlopen Soccer Club is proposing construction of nine soccer fields of various sizes on land owned by the City of Lewes. Homeowners in the Canary Creek community that is adjacent to site have voiced opposition to the fields. ARTWORK BY CHRISTOPHER D FOSTER

Henlopen Soccer Club has submitted a proposal to develop playing fields on land owned by the City of Lewes.

The club wants to use part of a 25-acre site deeded to the city in 2008 as perpetual open space by the developer of the Canary Creek community, which would be adjacent to the soccer fields.

Lewes Mayor and City Council listened to the club’s most recent proposal at its April 8 meeting but made no decision.

The community’s entrance is via Samantha Drive, which was built by the developer and intersects with what is known as the University of Delaware’s old Research Park road. The parcel referred to in an April 26 edition of the Cape Gazette as city-leased land is incorrect.

Lewes Mayor Jim Ford said the city met with club representatives April 24. Ford said club officials called the earlier presentation conceptual.

Ford said the city has received correspondence from Canary Creek homeowners who object to the club’s proposal, but he added, that doesn’t mean no one supports the idea.

He said the group has not sought public support for the soccer fields and would like an opportunity to give the public additional information.

Ford said the city has no plans to make a quick decision about the proposal, especially in light of the upcoming Saturday, May 11 election.

“With at least one seat changing, it wouldn’t be the same people making the decision,” he said in an April 29 interview.

There is one incumbent and three challengers running for two open city council seats.

For its initial development, the club proposes creating two fields, 110-by-75-yard; one field, 75-by-50-yards; and four fields, 130-by-20-yards.

The proposal also calls for future development of two additional 110-by-75-yard fields. Club players are ages 2 through 18. The small fields are for players up to 6 year old; the medium-sized field is for players up to age 12; and the large fields are for players up to age 18.

David Hutt, a club board member and spokesman for the organization, said the proposed facility would also have 200 parking spaces. He said traffic congestion would be unlikely because matches are played on a staggered schedule according to age group, generally on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until about 1 p.m. Soccer season typically starts in late April and ends in June to avoid playing when summer’s heat is at its peak.

He said the season gives the club’s nine teams 20 weeks to practice and play matches.

Founded in 1993 and incorporated in 1997, the nonprofit club’s now uses soccer fields at Milton’s H.O. Brittingham Elementary School in Milton.

The city-owned parcel contains two areas – the Russel and Old House sites – that have been designated as archaeologically significant. Archaeologist found an axe head on the Russel Site determined to be about 4,000 years old. The artifact is thought to be the oldest found in the state.

Canary Creek developer Lifetime Living LLC deeded the parcel to the city and at same time deeded about 25-acres of wetlands to the state.

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