The 90-acre park will be on a county-owned property on Shallcross Lake Road just off of Marl Pit Road, just north of the town limits of Middletown.
New Castle County is planning to develop a park just north of the town limits of Middletown.
At the ceremony announcing the park site on Tuesday at the Appoquinimink Library, County Executive Matthew Meyer was joined by County Council members, legislators and local residents as he announced that the 90-acre park will be on a county-owned property on Shallcross Lake Road just off of Marl Pit Road.
Groundbreaking is expected to occur in 2020.
The announcement reflects the Meyer Administration’s commitment to make new park investments south of the C&D Canal to better meet the needs of residents in the county’s fastest-growing region, according to a county press release.
“New Castle County parks are vital community assets that support recreation and relaxation, preserve open space and drive home values,” Meyer said. “This new park on land the county already owns was selected after extensive community input and we will continue to engage with residents as we design the park to meet the needs of this growing region.”
New Castle County’s strategic park plan has long recognized the need for additional county parkland in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area. While making this week’s announcement, Meyer noted that 30,000 residents live within five miles of the new park and the population of that immediate area is projected to grow by an additional 20,000 residents in the coming years.
Meyer signaled his commitment to add a park in the area during the earliest days of his administration and in 2017 he convened a Parks Task Force to develop recommendations on future park needs with a focus on southern New Castle County. The Task Force was guided by the principles of fiscal responsibility, securing a good deal for taxpayers, making access more equitable, protecting sensitive spaces and enhancing trail connections. Its six public meetings attracted more than 4,400 online views and its final report which reflected input from 600 public comments indicated a preferred new park site in the area of Marl Pit Road.
“The Parks Task Force worked over several months through a transparent and robust public engagement process in collaboration with other levels of government to make data-based recommendations that were consistent with the county’s comprehensive land use plan, parks plan and capital improvements program,” said Parks Task Force Chair Ed O’Donnell. “I want to thank County Executive Meyer and his team for the attention they have given to our recommendations and I’m pleased that they selected a location for this new park that fits with the Task Force recommendations. I want to commend the members of the Task Force for their service and thank the many residents who participated with us.”
County officials noted that the size of the new park provides ample space to incorporate needed recreational amenities along with natural features and buffers to help improve water quality of an adjacent drinking water well and the nearby Appoquinimink Creek.
“This is a very exciting time for southern New Castle County,” said County Council member Bill Bell, whose council district includes the new park site. “For many years this area has been underserved by county services and I applaud County Executive Matt Meyer for carrying through on his commitment to improve county infrastructure and bring more services to our constituents. This new park also builds on the new county library being constructed in Middletown and the upgraded county paramedic station that is being put out to bid. I want to applaud the work of the Parks Task Force and this entire administration for their perseverance in meeting the needs of our people.”
County Council member David Carter said he has advocated for a regional park in the area for 20 years.
"I want to thank County Executive Meyer and his staff for selecting this location and recognize the many people who worked tirelessly to help get this done,” said County Council member David Carter, who also served as a Parks Task Force member. “As the population in this part of the county has grown we have lost the connections that come with being in a small community. This accessible and central location will attract many people from the surrounding area to make natural connections with each other and build community capital to work together and build together.”
State Senator and former New Castle County Council President Stephanie Hansen said the county has a history of successful parks.
“Building a substantial new park with recreational amenities for the growing MOT area is a really big deal," Hansen said. "It’s a clear indication that County Executive Meyer and his administration care very much about the needs of southern New Castle County and are committed to making sure that government is serving the people of this area.”
New Castle County will now hire a landscape architect over the coming weeks to begin the planning and design phase and will continue to engage the community with multiple public input meetings to take place starting later this summer.