Time for Henlopen Acres, Rehoboth Art League to end dispute

May 6, 2013

Some might say Rehoboth Art League has called in the cavalry: the Office of the Secretary of State has entered an agreement with the league, pledging the state’s cooperation in preserving the art league and its campus.

It could be the latest salvo in the ongoing spat between the town of Henlopen Acres and the art league, an increasingly bitter dispute that has already featured a protracted court battle.

Let’s hope instead that state intervention will bring the voice of reason to the debate.

The Town of Henlopen Acres encom­passes only 219 parcels in an area just barely a quarter-mile square. Well-manicured lawns line the quiet, shady streets where even a few joggers or cyclists appear to disturb the calm.

Yet at the center of the town lies Rehoboth Art League, considered one of the state’s most important cultural institutions. Soon after its founding in 1938 – the league is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding this year – it became a summer home for leading artists of the day and young artists who would go on to leave their mark on 20th century American art. In 1978, the art league acquired the Home­stead, built in 1743, one of the oldest structures in Rehoboth.

Most communities would consider the art league and its historic buildings a tremendous asset, but for some in Henlopen Acres, it’s the bane of their existence.

Residents want to preserve the serenity that brought them to the town. Yet, like all institu­tions, the art league must grow and develop; otherwise it will perish.

It’s time for both sides to recognize they can coexist, and that should be the message the secretary of state brings to the table.

There is a way to preserve both this cultural jewel and its stately setting. It’s long past time to find it.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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