Lewes workforce project deserves full support
The workforce housing project being discussed for an eight-acre parcel of land fronting Savannah Road in Lewes deserves full support and approval from the city and its committees.
For too long, the town has watched its employees and others who work in the city and surrounding area pushed out by rising property values. This project, first through a rezoning and now through a concrete, collaborative proposal, is the first time in decades the issue is being addressed directly.
The project is making its way through the city’s review and approval process. Every effort should be made to keep that process moving forward. The give-and-take in the process will only improve an already promising proposal, particularly if it addresses issues such as a perceived lack of adequate parking and recreational open space.
There was a hiccup this week when only five of nine planning commission members were on board to discuss the project at a regularly scheduled meeting. But it’s August. People are vacationing, doing things with their families. Plus, nine is an unwieldy number for any governing committee. Still, this is an important step forward. Staying on track is important.
Many years ago, Lewes established a set of core values to guide its decision-making. As the community has grown grayer, whiter and wealthier, one of those core values has suffered. Lewes as a community of diversity has been steadily eroding. Mayor and council have noted the problem and the need for workforce housing. Their leaning in this direction to strengthen diversity is finally beginning to blossom.
The collaboration between developers and Diamond State Community Land Trust takes the initiative even further. Public-private partnerships have long been a hallmark of progress in Delaware.
But that’s not the end of the proactive steps needed. Lewes Mayor and City Council should craft an agreement to reserve a number of units, for a specified time, for city employees to rent or own so they could be more a part of the city’s fabric.
The sooner this project is approved and constructed, the sooner the community can realize the benefits of addressing a real need.