Legislature needs to pass SB 6 this session

June 2, 2023

Thank you to the Cape Gazette for its excellent editorial and support of Senate Bill 6 to strengthen and clarify the 1979 Warner Grant legislation. A very big thank you to our legislators who initiated this bill and co-sponsored it with Sen. Russ Huxtable and Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf. Those legislators include Sens. Brian Pettyjohn, Stephanie Hansen, Gerald Hocker, Dave Lawson and Bryan Townsend and Reps. Stell Parker Selby, Kerri Evelyn Harris, Jeff Hilovsky, Paul Baumbach, Ronald Gray, Debra Heffernan and Sophie Phillips.

To be very clear, there is nothing in this bill that would change any of the existing commercial ventures or activities in the park that exist today. That includes the current snack bar, surf fishing, camping, nature education programs, birding, fishing, bike rentals, bait & tackle shop, kayak rentals, gift shop and Fort Miles. The bill does say that a restaurant, hotel or entertainment center cannot be built.  At this time, we are concerned this bill could languish in committee since it has not yet reached the floor for a vote even though it was passed by the Senate committee two weeks ago. It is now June and this legislative session ends June 31.  

If DNREC does not intend to further commercialize Cape Henlopen for profit, why is it objecting to this bill? Have they forgotten that about 1,000 people showed up to their meeting Dec. 5 at Cape Henlopen High School to object to the creeping commercialization of Cape Henlopen and their proposal to build a restaurant in the park? How often have that may people showed up to a DNREC meeting on a cold winter day in December at holiday time?

To all of you who attended that meeting, it is time to write to Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, Sen. Russ Huxtable, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, your legislators and the governor, and ask them to pass SB 6 in this legislative session, not next year or the year after. A lot can happen if this legislation is delayed. Having seen some of DNREC’s future plans, there is reason to be concerned. As good stewards of Cape Henlopen State Park, shouldn’t DNREC be leading the charge to protect what we have left of this treasured open space?

Gail Van Gilder


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