DNREC needs to rethink Cape state park decisions
Two recent decisions by state policymakers that affect Cape Henlopen State Park have residents, visitors and stakeholders in an uproar.
First, with no advance public input that we are aware of, a request for proposals for a concessions upgrade was put out for bid, and a contract was awarded to La Vida Hospitality. There is no question that Cape Henlopen State Park could use upgrades in facilities, including improved operations for food and beverages, but the proposed restaurant plan does not sit well with most park users.
The lack of public input and transparency up front is now only going to create headaches for both DNREC and La Vida Hospitality as this process moves forward.
Second, the decision to remove the cap on surf-fishing tags was correct, but the implementation of a reservation system seems to lack common sense. The extra work created by having to organize, manage and enforce these reservations on 36 separate days throughout the summer is hard to wrap one's head around.
DNREC indicated the reservation process would provide more equity in access, but we fail to see how this is any more equitable than opening the fishing beaches on a first-come, first-served basis. Now, fishing beach users must have quick phone or internet access to the system on specific days, in addition to spending an extra $4 to acquire a reservation. This seems to create a greater barrier to access for those who may not be able to break from work on a weekday to seek a reservation for the weekend.
DNREC officials state they went to great lengths to get public input and even formed a committee to help with this decision. Yet somehow, the final resolution is confusing.
Cape Henlopen State Park is easily the greatest natural resource in the Cape Region. Let’s call upon our political leaders and DNREC to start making decisions with that in mind, before it's too late.