By Amy Cherry 2:25pm, August 27, 2014 - Updated 3:09pm, August 27, 2014
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.Delaware's state parks will see some much-needed improvements through a change in funding.
WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
A new law changes the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund to an endowment.
"We'll bring that maybe less than one-percent return up to, maybe, two three, four, five percent return," said DNREC Secretary David Small.
Small, who recently took over the state's natural resources department, says the endowment will be managed by the Cash Management Policy Board. Any money made will be used for trails, playgrounds, and various improvements to state parks. The money can also be used to help towns and municipalities purchase new land to create a park.
"There's a backlog probably of about $100 million right now, we're whittling away at it, and this will certainly help," he said.
He points to the ailing indoor tennis center at Bellevue State Park.
"It is falling in on itself, and it can become a public safety concern. That's probably a $1.5 million investment just to responsibly take that down," Small said.
He adds the funding could lead to improvements at Cape Henlopen State Park, where infrastructure dates back to World War II.
"Our wastewater treatment system, we've made some upgrades to it, but it's basically the same system. Our fishing pier is falling apart--it's an incredible amenity for folks who don't have a boat, but would like to go fishing," Small explains.
He adds we could see improvements to Lums Pond as well, which needs at least $13 million, Governor Markell said.
"Add full-service hookups for campers -- a lot of folks take that for granted. But if you're looking for a campground that doesn't have electric, doesn't have sewer, and doesn't have water, a lot of folks are going to bypass that and find somewhere that does," said Small.
Small says these investments will have high rates of return because the state parks can charge more, meaning they'll make more. But the improvements aren't all about money, they're about getting kids outdoors.
"Away from screens, outdoors, up close and personal with nature so they can learn from it but also appreciate," he said.
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