I would like to commend the Coastal Point and reporter Kerin Magill for bringing to the attention of your readers the current situation between Delaware State Parks and Ocean View Marina.
In this day and age of overdevelopment in coastal Sussex County, it is crucial that the public be aware of any chance to save open space, public water access to the Inland Bays and expand recreational opportunities. I believe this issue deserves the public’s input. Your paper has done a great service.
However, I do want to take this time to clarify a few details in the article that may have been misconstrued by some readers.
The first issue I want to address is the perception that I outbid Parks for the marina property. Parks & Recreation had first right of refusal and 15 years to purchase the marina. That’s ample opportunity, and yet Parks consistently offered less than the seller’s asking price.
The previous owner made it very clear to Parks from the beginning and to me in 2009 that he did not need to sell the property and that the price was firm. I simply paid his stated price. This whole controversy could have been avoided had Parks just ponied up $150,000 years ago.
The second issue that I feel needs some clarity and that some may misinterpret is that I suggested a trail and trail parking on and through marina property as part of my proposals. To the contrary, Parks has had plans for trail, trail extension, trail-head parking, ramp access and other amenities for the marina property since 1995, and they have made that clear to me on numerous occasions. My proposals have included Park’s desires.
Here are two examples of Park’s marina trail desires:
• In my interim lease written by Parks in 2009 for Ocean Views Marina’s use of Park’s right-of-way property along the canal, it states, among the usual legalese, “Additionally, Ocean View Marina agrees to cooperate with the Division to establish a public use trail on the marina property.”
• In 2012, I submitted my first proposal that included everything they wanted. They rejected the proposal but ended the rejection letter with this salutation. “Your partnership will be a valuable benefit for the public to access the Assawoman Trail once completed.”
I also want to let the public know that it was Parks that encouraged me to submit my revised proposal in 2017, after an April 7, 2017, meeting at the marina, to which they verbally said yes to the proposal but later turned down.
I encourage the public to review the 2011 Assawoman Canal Trail Concept Plan and the Master Plan for the Assawoman Canal prepared for the Delaware Division of Parks & Recreation by the RBA Group in 1995. You also may want to check out the Fort DuPont Master Plan — specifically, the marina village. I think you’ll see my frustration with Parks more clearly, but it’s really the public that will suffer from their decisions.
Tom Fowler, owner
Ocean View Marina