Groome Church rejects offer – sells to developer!

October 3, 2017

"Small enough to care, large enough for Vital Ministry" (from the home page of the Groome Church website).

The "care" proclamation on their own website ("Small enough to care") is the absolute antithesis of the decision of the Groome Church to sell their New Road property to a developer. The profound disappointment (bordering on disbelief) by those who have become aware of the fantastic offer rejected by the decision makers at the Groome Church has left major state, county and city officials shaking their heads.

While the offer was initially agreed to, the overriding question is why, ultimately, did such a generous offer get rejected when millions of dollars and many hundreds of hours were spent trying to prevent the wholesale development of the New Road corridor while providing such a generous financial legacy to the church.

Although the Groome property is 135 acres, the proposals to preserve well over 1,000 acres hang in the balance. The fact that the Rev. Dr. S. Willard Crossan III has a responsibility to your congregation is undeniable. He has worked hard to maximize the financial return on the property bequeathed to the church many years ago. But in doing so, there is no sign of caring for the surrounding community, the very pool from which new worshipers might be attracted.

With disregard for the environmentally sensitive Great Marsh, increased traffic and the domino effect of massive New Road development, the Groome negotiators beat offers made by the state. But, saving this land was so critical that when the state ran out of funding in a tough budget year, an extremely generous offer was extended by J.G. Townsend to purchase the property and permanently preserve it.

Although perfectly legal, squeezing just a few additional dollars from the highest bidder is not an act of "caring" for your neighbors. Forever and ever, the traffic congestion, loss of open space and higher water tables and flooding on New Road may be remembered as the gift of the Groome Church.

Surely, this is not a legacy Groome United Methodist Church ever intended to leave its friends and neighbors.

Consider the state, county and city elected officials, the State Open Space Council, the private conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and private individuals that worked so hard to keep this vital lynchpin property as open and green space forever. They all recognized the importance of preserving this land to safeguard the community of Greater Lewes for the long term. We owe them all a big thank you for their efforts.

Apparently however, the green space for the Groome negotiators was reduced to green dollars for a magnificent new church.

The State of Delaware has already invested millions of dollars in preserving the lands of the Great Marsh and contiguous properties. That is why they have worked for over two years to raise the funds to purchase the Groome Church property.

Question: Have you adequately considered the very generous offer made by J.G. Townsend Inc. to permanently protect this land as open space and evaluated the benefits of open space vs. development? Also, think about the straightforward financial agreements free of the contingencies, public hearings and negative press for your church for months and years.

We ask that you examine the impact and damage this transaction will forever inflict on our quality of life and the reputation of Groome United Methodist Church and then, in the alternative...Think about the goodwill that reversing this decision will produce for you. What a contrast!

Please ask the decision makers at your church to reverse the decision before it is too late. (It can be done.) We believe it truly is the Christian thing to do and will definitely enhance the growth of your "Vital Ministry." Let's work together for the benefit of all.

You can be big enough and still care.

Douglas Spelman
David Ennis
Barbara Vaughan
New Road Preservation Alliance

  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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