A restaurant in our treasured park?

November 15, 2022

The following letter was sent to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Parks and Recreation Advisory Council with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

Dear advisory council members,

Thank you for the chance to comment on the proposed restaurant for Cape Henlopen State Park. As an ecologist, I appreciate the opportunity to have input on that which impacts our shared and precious natural resources.

Before moving forward with a restaurant in our remarkable park, one well recognized throughout the country, a number of considerations need to be addressed including:

• Protecting the dune; the recent storm, Ian, caused erosion past the existing sand fence. Sea-level rise and beach erosion will continue, especially if we are slow to respond to climate change, our greatest challenge.

• The Warner Grant stipulates "for the benefit of the people of Lewes ..."; many citizens of Lewes would not benefit, especially in consideration of likely increased traffic, trash, noise, etc.

• More oversight of plans for the building is needed; it seems La Vida would design autonomously. DNREC and others should insist that the building (if permitted) teach, that it be designed to reflect resource conservation, incumbent on all of us as we work to conserve energy to combat climate change. The building needs to be LEED certified, self-sustaining (e.g. geothermal, solar, Energy Star), and display natural and human history features of the surroundings (e.g. beach heather, spring peepers, nighthawks, raptor migrants, Native Americans, climate change). To limit habitat disturbance, the new restaurant should complement the surroundings, and should be small and close or attached to the existing McBride Bathhouse.

• Recycling and thoughtful waste disposal; although better than last year, the recyclables and waste generated at the McBride Bathhouse and nearby could be better sorted and properly cared for in general. The public needs educating (e.g. signage) and the maintenance team at Cape Henlopen State Park could be more attentive.

• Food trucks (with well-labeled recycle and trash bins), at the bathhouse parking area or at the campground could satisfy the need for food, especially among the campers.

• Concerns (e.g. noise, lights, smells, waste, congestion) that generally accompany a commercial restaurant in the middle of a beautiful park where wildlife, nocturnal and otherwise, and other features of nature abound.

Thank you for your consideration.

Peter Kleppinger McLean


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