Support Senate Bill 6: preserve our park

June 2, 2023

The title of your May 26 editorial says it all: “Preserving state park is paramount.” Indeed, Cape Henlopen State Park is a special place. And special places deserve paramount attention. This is particularly true when one considers the various environmental tradeoffs made to support the park and provide recreational uses. Such tradeoffs notwithstanding, there is a difference between being a steward of nature and a business manager; a difference between being a natural preserve and an amusement park; and there is a significant difference between the goals of preservation and the appeals of commercialization.  

Sen. Russ Huxtable’s Senate Bill 6 is a bipartisan bill that clarifies park priorities. A “trust us” sort of mentality appears to explain some of DNREC’s critical comments concerning Senate Bill 6. But public skepticism seems warranted in light of the proposed plan to place a bar/restaurant in the park. Though that plan was defeated (thanks largely to overwhelming public opposition and La Vida Hospitality’s withdrawal), it is amazing that DNREC first encouraged and then allowed this ill-advised proposal to get as far as it did.

Public trust is best fostered by meaningful openness. Such openness was on proud display when DNREC participated in a public forum Dec. 5. DNREC’s Ray Bivens attended that meeting. He should do so again in a public forum, if only to explain DNREC’s priorities. If DNREC officials object to measures such as Senate Bill 6, let there be a civil and robust debate on the matter. If there is indeed no need for additional legislative guidance or statutory specification, let’s hear why. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 6 is an important first step to ensure that the goal of “preserving our park is paramount.”  

Ronald KL Collins 
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