950 Port Penn Road

950 Port Penn Road

New Castle County Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution to consider buying a combined farm and nature reserve and converting it into a park.

The 240-acre property is at 950 Port Penn Road, just west of Port Penn, and county council wrapped up an eight-month consideration of purchasing the property with a vote Tuesday.

New Castle County is considering going 50/50 on a joint bid of $2.4 million with Delaware Wild Lands, a land preservation non-profit that is the largest private land ownership group in Delaware, and owns some of the property adjacent to the Port Penn site.

Bell said the agricultural farmland and salt mash could create recreational options for county residents.

"Summer camps, possibly some walking trails, hunting, fishing, and educational programs. We may even be able to partner with community services, programs for children like 'Reels with Cops' fishing, and other programs that we have at our other parklands."

The land was originally put on the market for about $6 million, but has dropped to $2.9 million. New Castle County believes they can talk the price down by another half-million, and get the property out of the hands of home developers.

"The property owners are happy. They don't want to sell it to Ryan Homes; they want to preserve it," Councilman Tim Sheldon said. "If we don't do this as the alternative, we know what the alternative is."

The 11 yes, 1 no, 1 absent vote was dissented by 10th District (Wilmington/New Castle) Councilman Jea Street, who felt the $1.2 million from the capital budget in parkland acquisition could have been better spent elsewhere.

"I just wanted to make sure all of you were done finished singing 'Kumbaya' before I tell you how I really feel. On one hand I support land preservation, on the other hand I can't support this. Contrary to what you think, I listened to conversations before, during, and after the meetings, and people talking about being able to hunt down there, or be able to fish. Well, what's being hunted in my district? People: 159 shootings to date."

According to the resolution, Delaware Wild Lands would assume all maintenance costs for the property, not adding additional costs to the county besides the purchase price and any programs they'd choose to create.