Look at what cooperation can produce
On a recent hazy evening, two herds of deer – 15 animals in each – grazed at the corner of Kings Highway and Clay Road in Lewes. A tongue of old trees reaching into the field from the woods along the headwaters of Canary Creek separated the two herds. As the deer fed, lazily swinging their tails against the flies, hundreds of cars passed on the bordering roadways.
Thanks to a recent deal brokered primarily by Sussex County Councilman I.G. Burton, that bucolic, 30-plus-acre scene – part of the Historic Lewes Byway – will be preserved in perpetuity for future generations of drivers passing through this rapidly developing area.
Itching to use funds languishing in a county open-space preservation fund for their intended purpose, Burton worked with officials from Sussex County, City of Lewes, and Lewes Board of Public Works, and property owner J.G. Townsend Corporation to bring the $5.5 million deal to fruition. Sussex and BPW each contributed $2 million, and the City of Lewes $1.5 million. J.G. Townsend Corporation joined in the spirit of cooperation by agreeing to accept $1.6 million less than the appraised value of $7.1 million. BPW will receive the use of a small piece for a new water tower.
An ancient hedgerow of osage orange trees stands between the field and the adjacent BPW well field that provides drinking water to City of Lewes and some neighboring residents. That hedgerow, reminiscent of those that once delineated 1700s Duke of York-patented lands in Lewes, dates back centuries and deserves preservation in its own right.
Sussex County Council, City of Lewes, Lewes Board of Public Works, J.G. Townsend Corporation, and the Greater Lewes Foundation, which funded an appraisal to help Burton kick-start negotiations, deserve congratulations for their foresight and willingness to make this important acquisition happen. We will also express gratitude here on behalf of the deer and all their wildlife relatives for preservation of a rich band of natural habitat stretching from west of Route 1 all the way to the Great Marsh.
We hope to celebrate many more of these mutually beneficial partnerships in Sussex County in the years ahead.