The Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control on July 1 released the answers to publicly-asked questions about the possible location of an electrical interconnection facility at Fenwick Island State Park bringing power from a proposed offshore wind farm, as well as results of a public survey about possible improvements to the park.
Last year, Ørsted requested that DNREC consider allowing electric cables from the company’s proposed Maryland offshore Skipjack Wind Farm to connect underground to a possible interconnection facility on Fenwick Island park property. DNREC took public comment on a number of possible improvements to the park that could be funded by Ørsted if the interconnection were allowed within the park, with the comment period extended to earlier this year.
DNREC officials emphasized that they have not made a decision on the use of Fenwick Island State Park as a landing for the power produced from the proposed wind farm.
The answers released Wednesday clarified that DNREC is “considering the proposal to allow an interconnection facility to be installed at Fenwick Island State Park to direct power from the proposed Skipjack Wind Farm. The proposed wind farm itself is authorized by the state of Maryland, but an interconnection is proposed to be located in Delaware. The wind farm developer, Ørsted, would provide park improvements as part of the project. This proposal is separate from regulatory considerations of the wind farm, which is proposed to be developed regardless of Parks’ involvement.”
Other statements made in response to public questions about the possible interconnection within the park and the possible park improvements included:
• “If the project is determined to move forward by the DNREC Secretary, the next step requires detailed planning and all associated permitting.”
• “DNREC will not allow negative impacts to wetlands. Any unacceptable impacts to the environment will not be entertained.”
• “A review of impacts to living resources (e.g. marine mammals, sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, birds, bats) would be conducted as part of the permitting process. Time-of-year restrictions are often placed on projects to protect living resources.”
• “The proposed infrastructure improvements would remove a row of parking closest to the dune to allow the area to naturalize again and give the dune additional space to move. In addition, any new infrastructure would be designed to allow for dune movement.”
• “Fenwick Island State Park has seen an increase in visitation as a result of increased visitors and development in the surrounding area. Regardless of any proposed amenities, the park is expected to only grow in popularity and stress existing infrastructure that is undersized for the demand. The proposed amenities will add capacity for the park and improve flow and experience for visitors.”
Officials said the public process about the possible interconnection and park improvements produced numerous questions about the offshore component of the Skipjack Wind Farm, including the distance of turbines to the shoreline, the location of wind energy areas in relation to fishing, the impacts of the wind farm on recreation, fisheries and navigation. The DNREC answers noted that many of these questions are most appropriately addressed by Ørsted and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
DNREC received 2,692 survey submissions that gave feedback on the proposed park improvements, which include methods for increasing public safety and relieving traffic congestion, upgraded infrastructure and the addition of new recreational amenities to meet the needs of increased visitation.
Of those who completed the survey, 44 percent said they would like DNREC to renovate the existing parking area and/or create additional parking facilities, 32 percent want the bathhouse and restroom facilities to be renovated and expanded, 13 percent would like additional food concessionaires and 12 percent felt the proposed improvements would improve traffic flow and parking at Fenwick Island State Park.
Respondents also ranked proposed amenities from first to last, with walking paths to connect Fenwick Island, a nature center and additional food concessions the most popular.
To see the survey results and read the questions and answers, go to www.destateparks.com/FenwickImprovements.