Park restaurant hysteria needs perspective

November 15, 2022

I have been reading the many letters submitted concerning the building of a restaurant within Cape Henlopen State Park and would like to offer a little perspective. I speak as a previous writer as to the dubious prospect of making it a national park. I am also a frequent park user as a surf fisherman, bird watcher, hiker and volunteer with Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, of which other members have offered sincere and well-stated objections to the facility, including our President John Bracco who is a tireless asset to the park and the organization.

A few points: First, the construction or blocking of same will not be the biggest disaster to have hit the region since the 1962 storm. Secondly, tight restrictions should be followed with regard to the construction of same, the hours of operation, dune preservation and trash/noise/light pollution. Thirdly, a review process should be set in place to ensure that no unforeseen negative impacts arise while respecting the capital commitment involved by La Vida Hospitality. 

As to other perspectives, I would refer readers of the Gazette to the letter to the editor by Rick Bailey of Lewes and Eric Burnley’s Outdoors column, both contained in the Nov. 11 edition. I am privileged to know Eric a little bit and know that he is a lifelong state resident, mostly in Sussex County, a conservationist, environmentalist, avid fisherman and member or contributor to various marine fishery advisory boards and/or committees for which he receives little, if any, compensation. 

I believe I am correct or nearly so when I state the proposed restaurant would occupy about one acre of land out of the 5,200 within the park. I would advise all to visit the Indian River Inlet facility and marvel at the beautiful view available there, which, I believe, fosters a respect and appreciation for the state park system and a desire to preserve same. Additionally, I have noticed that many customers of that location are more elderly folk who likely have limited access to the beachfront, unless they are able to trudge over the steep dune line or own a four-wheel drive vehicle and the required pass. Furthermore, as Mr. Burnley states: “they are not tearing down paradise to put up a parking lot. The parking lot is already there.” That and hundreds or thousands of cars traversing both the beach and the roads on a daily basis. If I am correct, the restaurant would result in substantial financial benefit to the park. 

Finally, a note of caution. I am noticing a hysterical tone, overstated rhetoric and false or highly speculative claims in some of the letters printed concerning this matter. This serves no one well and is antithetical to effectively addressing this or any other issue. 

Dan Neumann 
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