At its Nov. 14 meeting, Sussex County Council approved an agreement with Sussex County Land Trust for property management of Hopkins Preserve, a 40-acre preserved parcel along Sweetbriar Road west of Lewes.
The county purchased the property for $1.5 million, which was a discounted price offered by owner Walt Hopkins, whose donation totaled more than $1.2 million.
Under the agreement, the county turns over management and development of the property to the land trust.
The county has budgeted $981,000 for future construction costs. The land trust has allocated $250,000 for the project.
The plan includes a shared entrance off Sweetbriar Road with a new Masonic Lodge in the northeastern section of the property. Part of the land deal included a donation of 7 acres (not included in the preserve acreage) to the local Masonic Lodge, of which Hopkins is a member.
The property contains 11 acres of preserved forest dating back at least 100 years.
The plan also includes a seasonal wetland, meadow, 10 acres of reforestation, walking trails, a multipurpose ADA trail around the perimeter named Hopkins Loop Trail, access to the adjacent Tall Pines community, a parking lot and restroom.
A trailhead and access to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail, which runs along the southern edge of the property, are included.
“This is a preserve and not a park. It will be sanctuary for wildlife,” said land trust Executive Director Mark Chura.
Phase 1 – Site preparation, utility infrastructure, stormwater management, pond, vehicle access and parking, 12-foot crushed granite multiuse trail, 6-foot crushed granite accessible pedestrian trail.
Phase 2 – Foot and pond bridge, and seeding of meadow, wetland, open lawn and 6-foot grass pedestrian trail.
Phase 3 – Site amenities including trail markers made of local materials, interpretive signage, benches, picnic tables, bike racks and a restroom.
Phase 4 – Planting of 50% of the total reforested area over a two-year period through volunteer tree-planting events.