Bethany seeks input

Bethany Beach officials are considering potential future uses for the town’s newly acquired properties on the northwest corner of the Route 1/Route 26 intersection, and ideas from citizens are actively being sought.

According to Council Member Tony McClenny, Town Council and Planning Commission members are now pondering the best uses for the former Christian Church and Neff properties and would like to take public input into account even in these early stages of the process.

McClenny said suggestions and ideas for the properties’ use should be sent to Town Manager Cliff Graviet’s office at the town hall: PO Box 109, Bethany Beach, DE 19930.

Thus far, McClenny said, suggestions for the properties have included:

• A picnic area with tables in the trees (shade);
• A softball field and/or skateboard area;
• A volleyball court; and
• A basic recreational park.

One additional request made to McClenny was that the park have no lighting and close at dark.

Discussion of the future plans for the park to date has largely focused on the idea of recreational or green/open space.

Over the winter, consideration was given to a $250,000 Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) grant that would have legally tied the future of the former Christian Church property to open space and prevented its future sale to any entity but the state as a way of preserving open space.

But council members rejected that agreement as potentially too restrictive, while voting in favor of making an amendment to the town charter that would cement recreational or open/green-space use for both parcels. The amendment would enforce that use unless it was overturned by a super-majority of council members at some future date.

That decision made, the basic concepts of the land’s use — and council members’ own suggestions — have been put into the hands of the Planning Commission. The commission’s members are now beginning the process of seeking citizen input as the ideas are developed.

Graviet noted in a recent report to the council that a survey of the two properties had shown some 40 percent of the total area was wetlands and thus unusable for structures, ball fields and many other potential uses the town might have considered. The remainder of the land (and its layout) will thus be the focus for use ideas.