Once again: Leave net reel where it is

September 10, 2021

Months ago, the Cape Gazette published an editorial suggesting the menhaden fishing net reel should stay exactly where it is, in Lewes Historical Society’s historic complex. Our position remains the same, only stronger.

The question has lingered too long, consuming too much community energy, while other, much larger concerns – a failing sanitary wastewater system, traffic congestion and resiliency in the face of climate change – deserve that attention.

Decades ago, the City of Lewes adopted a set of core values to help guide community leaders in their decision-making. Every one of the core values supports keeping the net reel where it is.

Core Value No. 1 - “Lewes has a special and historic relationship with the sea.” Slam dunk.

Core Value No. 2 - “Lewes values its human town scale and sense of face-to-face intimacy that is characteristic of its quality of life.” The net reel, by design, is of human scale, operated by people, not machines. Its size neither dominates nor detracts from its surroundings. As an attractive object of curiosity and unique interest designed to be viewed and considered at street and sidewalk level, the net reel encourages face-to-face intimacy.

Core Value No. 3 - “Lewes is a community of diversity.” Located in the heart of what for many decades was Lewes’ African-American neighborhood, the net reel is symbolic of the menhaden fishing industry that for centuries employed hundreds of people of many races from this neighborhood and the surrounding area. Diversity? Check.

Core Value No. 4 - “Lewes is a town of busy days and quiet nights.” The net reel only contributes to a complex completely consistent with this value.

Core Value No. 5 - “Lewes recognizes and maintains its internal communities.” Business community, waterfront community, beach community, educational community (schools and college), historic community. The net reel is unquestionably part of the town’s internal historic community.

Core Value No. 6 - “Lewes has a unique historical origin and strives to highlight its heritage through building design and architectural preservation.” Historical origin, heritage, preservation? Net reel.

Enough said.



  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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