Meetings set for input on Assawoman Canal pathway

For those interested in sharing their views on the proposed Assawoman Canal Pathway project, the first of several informational meetings will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Ocean View Town Hall, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The towns of Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Ocean View, as well as the communities of Sea Colony, Bahamas Beach Cottages and the Salt Pond, are inviting the public to attend the series of meetings and strongly encouraging their participation. The towns and communities are holding the meeting in partnership with representatives from DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation.

While the proposed pathway is still in the earliest of conceptual stages, the idea is a pathway that would provide bikers, joggers and walkers with another recreational amenity that would connect the coastal communities and offer beach access without the need to drive or bike on Route 26 or Route 1. The proposed pathway would likely encompass at least 6 to 8 feet of a 50-foot state-owned stretch on each side of the canal.

“It’s another recreational and educational opportunity for bikers, walkers and joggers,” said Ocean View Town Manager Conway Gregory, “and would be a way to get from Ocean View to Bethany Beach without getting on the highway.”

“We want as many people as possible to participate,” he added.

While it has been reported that a mandate from the Army Corps of Engineers will force several dock owners along the canal having to remove their docks and piers on the state-owned property, Gregory emphasized that the timing of the two issues was coincidental, if unfortunate.

“People think that the reason the boat docks have to come down is the state is building a trail, and those are two separate entities,” he emphasized.

Susan Moerschel of DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation concurred.

“The removal of the docks was a condition of the [Assawoman Canal] dredging permit,” said Moerschel, adding that, while that permit was granted through the division, the two situations are not related.

She also emphasized that the idea for the pathway is very preliminary and the purpose of the meetings is simply to get public input.

“The purpose of the meetings is to gauge what the public in the area of the Assawoman Canal thinks of a public pathway along the canal and also some connections to it,” she continued.

Bob Ehemann, also of the Division of Parks and Recreation, added that they are “just visioning this right now.”

“If I could re-name it, I would name it ‘an interest meeting’ as opposed to us giving out information about the design, etc., because we that’s information we don’t have.”

The meetings start on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. at Ocean View Town Hall at 32 West Avenue. On Thursday, Sept. 24, there will be a meeting at the Bethany Beach Town Hall at 214 Garfield Parkway, and on Wednesday, Sept. 30, there will be a meeting at South Bethany Town Hall at 402 Evergreen Road.