Celebrate state park, don’t destroy it

November 18, 2022

The following letter was sent to Gov. John Carney with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication.

I am writing in opposition to the building of a privately owned restaurant at Cape Henlopen State Park. It is amazing to me that when climate change is negatively impacting other Atlantic coastal towns, the state of Delaware would even consider such a proposal! Yet today I learned that a decision about this proposal is due to be made by January 2023. I hope that you will use your authority to reverse any approval that DNREC and/or the Parks & Recreation Council recommend for this poorly conceived idea.

While attracting private financial support for public parks may be necessarily strategic, allowing the construction of a privately owned restaurant on protected dunes in this beautifully natural environment is both shortsighted and just plain wrong. The proposed use goes far beyond privately contracting for the management of the state's concession stand, or even the Big Chill venue that has doubled in size at the Indian River Inlet park. The proposed new building will:

• Negatively impact the dunes that are there to protect against sea-level rise and its damage to the beach and beyond

• Encroach on the environmentally sensitive area near the existing Hawk Watch site where humans enjoy observing sea birds fly

• Create more traffic, trash and ambient light after dark than what already exists at this popular park location

• Bring noise from live or electronic music and people partying to a serene natural setting where the sound of children playing and ocean waves breaking is what people want to hear.

Do DNREC and the state really need this type of investment in a park known far and wide for its natural beauty? I seriously doubt the state's resources are that strapped. And is allowing private use of public lands even legal under the mission and/or the original agreement that conserved these coastal lands for CHSP?

Our prior governor celebrated the outdoors and use of public open space by expanding the bicycle paths available for people to use, including President Biden. I hope you will celebrate the natural beauty of the ocean beaches, dunes and forested areas in CHSP by stopping this proposed restaurant from destroying what attracts so many people to the Delaware beaches and this state park.

Dorothy Dobbyn


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