Alan Peoples Jr. has heard plenty of theories about what’s being built on his family’s 100-acre farm off of U.S. Route 13 near Townsend.

Alan Peoples Jr. has heard plenty of theories about what’s being built on his family’s 100-acre farm off of U.S. Route 13 near Townsend.

“Every time we come here to the site, about five cars drive down the lane to ask what we’re doing and they all seem to guess something different,” he said. “I just hope they’re still interested enough to come back and check us out when we open.”

The bluish-green tubes, wooden poles and vinyl netting that have been mysteriously popping up on the property since January aren’t the start of a new condominium development, a natural gas mining operation or an landing strip for alien spacecraft, Peoples said

Instead, they’re the beginning of a new paintball park his family is hoping to open this fall.

“The tubes and tree stumps that people are curious about are just obstacles that we’re putting up to make the games more interesting, while the poles and netting are being added to keep the paintballs in the field of play,” explained the 33-year-old artist and guitar instructor from Newark. “I guess it does look strange from the road, but I think once you find out what it’s for, it probably makes more sense.”

Once completed, Maple Shade Farm Paintball will include two open-air playing fields, a target range, a small club house for equipment rentals and refreshments, as well as a gravel parking lot.

Only a portion of the farm will be used for the paintball course. The remainder will continue to be used for growing soybean and corn, the same as it has since the Peoples family purchased the land in 1894.

“We’re not famers and we didn’t want to be the generation that sells the land off to developers or see it get paved over by big business interests,” he said. “My great-grandparents lived off this land and our hope is that we can too, just in a different way. But a way that still preserves the open space and provides some enjoyment for the community.”

Appoquinimink High School librarian Christy Payne, who serves as advisor to the school’s paintball club, said she’s excited to see a new venue for the sport coming to the area.

“More opportunities for our kids to get outside and be active in a social situation can only be a positive thing,” she said. “There are so many facets to the game that you don’t think about until you play. It’s not just running around and shooting. It involves a lot of teamwork and strategy, plus it’s a great way for kids to get out stress and aggression.”

Nearby resident Bob Eskridge, who recently stopped by the site to ask what they were building, said he also likes the idea.

“I think it’s great if it will give the kids something to do and help keep them out of trouble,” he said. “I’d much rather see them play with paintball guns than the real ones.”

Peoples said it’s still too early to say how much the admission fees and rental costs will be once the park opens.

“We’re still trying to work all that out,” he said. “Right now, we’re mostly focused on getting it all built and making sure it’s a fun course to play when we open.”