State approves new school

No site selected for 720-student elementary
Several parcels around Route 24 and Beaver Dam Road that Cape Henlopen School District is interested in for a new elementary school are highlighted. BY MELISSA STEELE
October 22, 2013

State officials have unofficially approved a new Cape Henlopen elementary school and middle school additions.

“This is great news for us. We received an unofficial phone call from the state on Tuesday,” said Superintendent Robert Fulton.

Capital improvement projects require state approval; by approving, the state agrees to fund 60 percent of the total project cost – about $20 million per recent estimates. Taxpayers would have to approve paying the remaining 40 percent – or about $10 million – in a referendum.

In September, Cape officials submitted its plan for a 720-student elementary school that would include 10 Sussex Consortium classrooms.

Fulton said the 10 consortium rooms were not approved at the new school.

“We'll have to discuss with the board on how to deal with the consortium space,” he said.

The plan also included six regular class additions and six consortium classroom additions for Beacon Middle School and six regular classroom additions at Mariner Middle School, which received state approval, said Director of Administrative Services Brian Bassett.

In a bit of a setback, one of the parcels of land the the district was considering for the new elementary school is no longer an option.

The Rollins family, owners of a Beaver Dam Road parcel that was under consideration, recently informed the district they were not interested in selling, Fulton said.

Bassett said the Rollins family, through a letter from their property manager, did not give a reason for pulling the property from further negotiations other than saying “at this time they weren't interested in selling the property.”

“That was a little disappointing,” Bassett said.

A second Beaver Dam Road property still under consideration is a smaller site, but at 19 acres conforms with the state's minimum 17 acre requirement for an elementary school, Fulton said. It is owned by the Delaware State Housing Authority.

In Preliminary Land Use Service comments for the site, Kevin Coyle of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said the soil there makes the parcel “among the most suitable parcels for development.”

Other properties under consideration lie along Route 24 and are all owned by Paul Townsend of Georgetown. Several parcels received favorable soil reviews from Coyle, except a parcel directly across Route 24 from Beacon Middle.

“In fact, this parcel is the least suitable of all the parcels evaluated for development,” he wrote.

Fulton said the district hopes to make a final decision on the elementary school site in about a month.