Restaurant would have significant impact on state park

October 28, 2022

I fell in love with Cape Henlopen State Park the first time I visited. I was amazed at the diversity available in the park. Of course there are the beautiful ocean and bay beaches, but they are just the beginning. The various walking and bicycling trails in the park are astounding. Need a quiet walk? May I suggest the Walking Dunes Trail. Gordons Pond Trail offers great views of the migrating birds and the change of seasons. One can always get lost along the wooded Pinelands Trail. There is the history that Fort Miles provides, and the fishing pier always offers a challenge. Because of my love of the park, I joined the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, the volunteer group in the park. I eventually became the president of the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park, which is my current position.

I am writing as an individual and not representing the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park. I am personally disheartened to learn that the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation has designs to build a restaurant at McBride Beach in our park. In response to the many letters written against this new restaurant, the Division of Parks and Recreation replied that they are responding to feedback from park visitors who asked for expanded services. It is truly a large leap from a request for expanded services to a design to build a full restaurant that would be open all year until 10 p.m. Currently, Cape Henlopen State Park closes at dusk. This provides relief to the nocturnal wildlife in the park from the daytime human activities. A new restaurant would have a major impact to the park. It would create noise pollution, light pollution (affecting migratory birds), year-round traffic and trash. Currently, the park has a carry-in/carry-out policy, which helps prevent the buildup of trash in the park. This proposed restaurant would create more trash that would need to be carted away by large trucks. Early morning delivery trucks would also disrupt the quiet that wildlife requires. The Division of Parks and Recreation has been sensitive to endangered species (plovers and sea beach amaranth). Will an impact study on all the wildlife, migratory birds and butterflies be performed to see what impact this restaurant would have on them?

The Division of Parks and Recreation points to the success of the Big Chill restaurant in the Indian River Inlet/Delaware Seashore State Park. They need to consider that not all parks are alike. Delaware Seashore State Park does not have a comparable ecosystem (or potential for environmental damage) to Cape Henlopen State Park.

John Bracco


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