Invest in open space to enhance sustainability
The Groome Church property remains at the center of a controversy that pits the hopes of the church for a larger, more visible building against the vision of a coalition that seeks to preserve the 135-acre property as the linchpin to protecting a total of 1,100 acres bordering the Great Marsh outside Lewes.
The church understandably wants to make its best deal to ensure it can fund building and maintenance of a new facility where it hopes to grow.
The New Road Preservation Alliance seeks to match the deal a developer has made with Groome officials, and the alliance says it's not giving up yet.
It turns out state officials have been trying to negotiate a deal to preserve the entire tract, which includes the Groome property, the 523-acre Hercules farm and the 363-acre Lank farm, both owned by J.G. Townsend Jr. and Co., and the 81-acre Knapp property.
The future of the Groome property offers a glimpse of the future for Lewes and the Cape Region. If the Groome tract is developed, it is more likely the entire 1,100 acres will become new housing.
On the other hand, preserving this huge tract bordering the Great Marsh would help preserve the integrity of the Great Marsh, improving sustainability. In addition, the land likely contains significant historical and cultural resources that would enhance Lewes' status as the First Town in the First State.
State and city officials keep calling for meetings to discuss sustainability.
This tract offers these same officials a place to start building sustainability. Fund the open space program unfunded for the past three years. Open space should be considered a critical part of Sussex County's infrastructure.
Use state open space funding, combined with funds from Lewes – which stands to gain so much from preserving this land – to negotiate a deal that will preserve the Groome tract and eventually the remaining farms.
Spending now to preserve open space is a wise investment that will protect Cape Region homes and infrastructure in the decades ahead.