What’s the big secret?

September 1, 2023

The No. 1 question being asked in Lewes is: What cultural resources have been found near the Wolfe Neck Regional Wastewater Facility along the Junction & Breakwater Trail between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach? Residents are frustrated that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control refuses to release any information about the archaeological find.

And when you consider that the discovery could change history – as stated by Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson – the public surely has a right to know.

To make matters worse, DNREC officials have denied a Freedom of Information Act request by this newspaper to provide any details.

One of the reasons given for the denial states that disclosure of the location could lead to vandalism and damage, putting the resources at risk. We applaud officials for making a strong effort to maintain the integrity of the dig site.

But we don't need information about the location. We are asking for information about what was found that has the potential to revise local history. Native Americans spent their summers in the area for centuries long before Europeans settled here, so we can only presume Native American artifacts have been found.

At this point, speculation is running rampant.

The find may also substantially impact plans for a shared wastewater treatment facility at Wolfe Neck between Lewes Board of Public Works and Sussex County. It appears the land where the discovery was made could be out of bounds for use by the facility as a spray-irrigation site.

In stark contrast is another archaeological dig taking place in Lewes at the former Lewes Dairy site on Pilottown Road, which could reveal the location of the original Dutch settlement fort dating back to 1631. The archaeological team is very forthright about its findings, and has invited Lewes and state officials to get a firsthand look. 

Work at the Wolfe Neck location is not completed; DNREC is scheduling a Phase 2 of the archeological survey this fall.

By then, there should be no reason state officials can't release some information about what has been found.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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