Fenwick Park Eventually Will Be ‘Community Asset’

FENWICK ISLAND – The new Cannon Street Park is well on its way as the basketball courts and rain garden have been completed and a ADA compliant kayak launch among other assets are planned.

In the summer of 2010, the Town of Fenwick Island decided to purchase a 50-foot by 100-foot vacant residential lot on Cannon Street behind the Public Works building and across the street from Town Hall to turn it into a recreational extension of the Fenwick Island Community Park located in front of the Public Works building on Coastal Highway.

The community park includes playground equipment with a walking path, a gazebo, picnic table and bench seating. The Cannon Street Park will add recreational uses, such as a basketball court that is now open to the public as of July 4 and a kayak launch.

“This is a second park with water access for the community, specifically with ADA [Americans with Disability Act] accessibility. Everything from the parking, walking path, staging area to the kayak launch will meet ADA requirements,” Town Manager Merritt Burke IV said.

Once the lot was purchased, it was rezoned to be included in the town’s park district, followed by Fenwick applying for a State of Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund (DTF) grant. The town received the grant for $50,000 to help with the project’s costs.

Burke recently applied for an amendment to the current grant to take it from $50,000 to $70,000 with a one-to-one match, so the State of Delaware would contribute $35,000 and the Town of Fenwick contributes $35,000 with a projected budget of $70,000.

“For a small resort town like Fenwick Island to have the foresight to purchase a vacant residential property adjacent to Town Hall years ago for the price of land in the area and to develop a park out of it, that is unheard of,” Burke said. “The lot is not that big to begin with but to put all these uses into one lot has been quite the challenge but by the end of the project it is going to be a community asset, and one that fits in with the comprehensive plan, especially relating to recreation and parks.”

The DTF was established in 1986 as an investment of state monies to provide an annual source of funding for the acquisition of open space and the development of outdoor recreation projects. Since that time, the Trust Fund has provided over $15 million in matching grant assistance to local governments throughout Delaware. The DTF Grant Program is administered by the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control.  

Annually, $1.5 million of Trust-earned interest is split equally between park projects and greenway and trail projects. The grant program is designed to assist local governments and Park Districts by providing matching grants for the planning, acquisition, and development of parks, greenways and trails.

According to Burke, one of the grant stipulations is the ADA kayak launch will be a trail head for a greenway water trail in the Town of Fenwick Island through Little Assawoman Bay to the Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area.

So far the basketball court, rain garden, a six-foot privacy fence and other general landscaping has been completed. Left to go is the construction of a 16-foot by 25-foot kayak launch with a 16-foot by 25-dock with life rings as well as a 10-foot by 10-foot staging area of pervious pavement, a walking path, an irrigation system, sod, signage, and parking. The Cannon Street Park will also include a picnic table and seating as the community park does.

A completion date for the Cannon Street Park has been set for Labor Day.