Kesselrings’ land benefits future generations

Workers set the ceremonial beam into place Thursday evening at the Kent County Recreation Center on New Burton Road, south of Dover.  (Delaware State News photos by Dave Chambers)

Workers set the ceremonial beam into place Thursday evening at the Kent County Recreation Center on New Burton Road, south of Dover. (Delaware State News photos by Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Decades ago, a fall harvest might have created the only hustle and bustle along New Burton Road, south of Dover.

That was when the Kesselrings farmed acres and acres of land, producing annual crops of corn and soybeans.

From the Editor logo copy copyNowadays, the back-and-forth of construction vehicles are part of a new chapter in the family’s Dover history.

Still a resident of the family farmhouse on Webbs Lane, David Kesselring, now 77, is a neighbor to progress.

He was at the site of the new Kent County Recreation Center and Boys and Girls Club Thursday night for a “topping off” ceremony.

Mr. Kesselring was taking photos as the final beam was raised on the steel structure that will house a long-awaited county gym.

During a brief ceremony, county administrator Michael Petit de Mange recognized him as a special guest.

“The Kesselring family has been a tremendous partner of Kent County and enabled this to happen,” said Mr. Petit de Mange. “If you think back to the early 2000s when development pressure was significant, we know the family turned away many an opportunity for lucrative deals.

“The reason they resisted is that they had a different vision for the property. I think what is happening today with

the Boy Scouts and Kent County is consistent with what the family wanted to have done.”

In 2010, the Kesselrings sold the 140-acre property between Dover and Wyoming to the county for park space and to the Del-Mar-Va Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

“We just decided on something like this instead of another Crossgates or Mayfair (developments),” Mr. Kesselring said.

Mr. Kesselring’s grandfather, Jacob, moved to Delaware from North Dakota in 1906 and buying 600 acres of farmland south of Dover in 1906.

Some years later, Jacob’s sons Harvey (David’s father) and Ammon split into two separate farming operations.

Over the years, the family’s share of farmland decreased with land sales for the developments mentioned above in

David Kesselring, right, is a third-generation member of the farm family whose land has been significantly transformed over the decades.

David Kesselring, right, is a third-generation member of the farm family whose land has been significantly transformed over the decades.

the 1960s.

The family also sold land to the Caesar Rodney School District for W. Reily Brown Elementary School on Webbs Lane in the 1970s.

When the property was sold to the county and the Boy Scouts, his sister, Jane Kesselring Edwards, talked about preserving the land for future generations.

“What you have done here will change lives for a very long time,” Brian DiSabatino of EDiS told Mr. Kesselring Thursday evening. “There are generations that will benefit from your generosity.”

Already on the property is the 85-acre Akridge Scout Reservation, featuring camping sites, pavilions and a man-made lake.

The new neighbors will be the county recreation center and the Boys and Girls Club, a partnership formed a few years ago.

In addition to the center, progress on that stretch of New Burton Road includes an overpass for the West Dover Connector.

In the late 1960s, the Delaware State News built a new plant on what then was considered the outskirts of Dover on Webbs Lane and New Burton Road. Mr. Kesselring, after getting out of the Air Force, delivered the Delaware State News for quite a while in the Chestertown and Centreville, Maryland area.

Does he marvel at how much the area has changed?

“Well, I’m old enough to remember when Webbs Lane was a dirt road — believe it or not,” he said. “We were out in the boondocks, I tell you. Now we’re right in the center of everything.

“It’s really amazing.”

The county rec center is expected to open in March or April 2016.


Keith Mumford, director of community services for Kent County, was one of the speakers Thursday night.

“I’ve been with the county for almost 30 years and this is something the staff has dreamed of since the day I started,” he said. “There have been many times over the years when I thought this would never happen, at least not in my lifetime.”

Mr. Mumford mentioned that the facility would allow the county to add more programs to its existing offerings and it would appeal to tots, youths and adults.

“We’ll have indoor soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, flag football and a sport that is becoming extremely popular with the senior population — pickleball,” he said.


Progress will be in the news for the next few weeks.

•On Friday, Delaware State University will have a dedication ceremony for the Optical Science Center for Applied Research, commonly called OSCAR.

For those driving along U.S. 13 frequently, that’s the shiny new building you have been watching rise on the campus.

Today’s edition includes an in-depth look at the amazing science and technology work taking place inside the building.

Noureddine Melikechi, OSCAR director and vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development at DSU, will be among the leaders attending the dedication ceremony.

The event is followed by a $100 gala. For tickets, visit

An interesting fundraiser for the OSCAR building is the opportunity to have your name attached to a chemical element on the periodic table to be permanently displayed in the lobby.

•On Friday morning, the German flooring company Uzin Utz will have a ribbon-cutting event for its new plant in the Garrison Technology Park.

•On Oct. 1, there will be a dedication ceremony for the Garrison Energy Center, the Calpine corporation’s natural gas-fired power producer, that is situated in the northwest corner of the Garrison park.

•Delaware Technical Community College’s Terry Campus hosts its annual Kent Economic Summit Tuesday morning.

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at

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