Local towns win park/playground grants from DNREC

Local park projects are getting their day in the sun after the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) announced its 2015 grant awards. Across the state, DNREC’s Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Trails Program is contributing just under $1.29 million to 14 parks and trails projects.

About $259,000 has been donated to local outdoor projects in Millville, Fenwick Island and the James Farm Ecological Preserve. These are matching grants, so local organizations chip in to prove their dedication to the projects.

Statewide, projects include playgrounds for children with special needs, education pavilions, boardwalks, nature overlooks, pathways and bathroom amenities.

The Town of Fenwick Island is putting its $21,293 award to work this week. In the first week of April, they planned to install ADA-compliant playground for children ages 5 to 8.

The Town of Millville won one of the biggest grants, totaling $200,000, to purchase land for its first municipal park.

In 2015, Millville paid $800,000 for 4.9 acres of land located at 32517 Dukes Drive, a side-road connecting from Windmill Avenue to Route 26. According to DNREC, ideas for the park include two playgrounds for different age groups, a fitness trail, a small community center, community garden and a fitness challenge course and obstacle course.

James Farm Ecological Preserve won $37,500 for design, engineering and permitting work. Managed by the Center for Inland Bays, the nature preserve is in the first stages of improving parking, trails and signage in Ocean View.

These three parks are or will be open to the public. Lands purchased or developed with assistance from the program must remain public parkland in perpetuity.

“For nearly 30 years, the Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Trails grant program has [been] helping fund projects that enhance residents’ quality of life and their enjoyment of nature and recreational activities,” stated DNREC Secretary David Small.

Formerly known as the Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund, the grant program has provided more than $27 million to help local governments acquire or improve local parkland, leveraging $51 million in local and other eligible investments.

Gov. Jack Markell called the parks a good investment for recreation, health benefits and making Delaware a more attractive place to live or visit.

“Parks and trails are an essential component of the fabric of our communities, contributing to our quality of life and our appreciation of the natural world,” Markell stated.

The money is funded through the Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund.

More information about the Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Trails Program can be found online at www.destateparks.com/OutdoorRecreationGrants.