Has DNREC thought through restaurant idea?

October 14, 2022

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control mission statement reads in part: “to ensure wise management, conservation and enhancement of the state’s natural resources ...” Considering that stated mission, I read with alarm that DNREC is now moving to allow a large restaurant at Cape Henlopen State Park.

A restaurant, which will be open until 10 p.m., serve alcohol and permit live music, will have an enormously detrimental impact on the environment, and will be an irreversible mistake. Managing such a restaurant will require more food, beverage and supply trucks with roaring engines and beeping backup alarms, create ever more trash and demand more trash trucks banging and clanging as they retrieve the resultant trash. More trips into the park by heavy vehicles will degrade the roads faster and increase the noise level as they enter and exit the park during extended hours. Traffic will be heavier within the park and the long line to simply enter the park on any given summer afternoon will grow longer. Nocturnal animals that now have a respite at dusk will be forced to navigate traffic, bright headlights and music after dark.

Alcohol is planned to be served at the restaurant. There will bring inevitable driving and behavior issues associated with alcohol use. Law enforcement authorities including park, Delaware River and Bay Authority, Lewes and Delaware State Police will have new responsibilities enforcing laws, especially during new park hours. Have they been consulted? Additional employees will be needed for the park entry kiosks later in the evening. Has the funding for all the additional responsibilities been addressed?

And what of DNREC’s commitment to “lead energy policy and climate preparedness?” This proposal seems in direct opposition to developing resilience to rising ocean levels and storm preparedness.

Cape Henlopen State Park is an essential feeding ground and rest stop for migratory birds. It is a crown jewel of the Delaware State Park system and our environment. Once a species is disturbed from the environment where it lives, feeds and breeds, other dependent species will suffer population declines. Already the U.S. and Canada have lost an estimated 3 billion birds since 1970, a staggering 25% drop due in large part to habitat elimination and dwindling biodiversity. Already we have effectually relegated wildlife to limited and specifically designated “protected” areas.

Isn’t it enough that every farm field and vacant lot is being dug, built upon and carpeted with turf grass that is the environmental equivalent of concrete? Do we truly need another restaurant? There are restaurants aplenty from Lewes to Fenwick Island. Is there no limit to the avarice of development that is playing out in southern coastal Delaware?

I call upon anyone who cares about the preservation of Cape Henlopen Park and who values the environment more highly than a restaurant and its resultant ecological impact to please voice your opinion to DNREC and write a letter to your state representative and to the editor of local news publications.

Julie Callahan



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