Levy Court extends lease on DE Turf lot

FREDERICA — Kent County Levy Court commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday to combine the leases of two separate parcels of county-owned land used by the DE Turf Sports Complex in Frederica, thus extending the lease on a 3.5 acre lot rented to the complex last year.

Initially, the county leased 92 acres of county-owned land to the complex in 2013. That lease was originated with a term of 60 years, expiring in 2073.

The $24 million, 12-field sports facility was then built and opened its doors in April 2017.

In August 2017, the sports complex reapproached the county in pursuit of an additional 3.5 acre parcel adjacent to the turf fields. Though sports complex management acknowledged to not having a well-defined plan for the use of the property at the time, the county agreed to lease the land, located at 4558 Bay Road in Frederica, for a period of three years at the rate of $1 per year. County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange noted last year that the parcel was recently assessed at approximately $550,000.

Earlier this month, Bill Strickland, chairman of DE Turf’s board of directors, approached the Levy Court with the proposal that the separate three year lease on the 3.5-acre plot be rolled into their existing lease on the larger 92-acre parcel.

Though he acknowledged that DE Turf’s management still weren’t sure for certain what they’d used the added land for, he noted that additional parking and storage — their two biggest logistical concerns — were the likely uses.

Mr. Strickland has said that extra overflow parking will help DE Turf book larger clients because they can be assured to have the space necessary to accommodate them.

The sports complex will now hold a lease on 95.5 acres of the county’s land until the agreement’s expiration on March 12, 2073.

The original purpose for the county owning the large swath of land was as a “buffer” around the county’s wastewater treatment plant, noted Mr. Petit de Mange. Because the county didn’t have the intention to sell or otherwise develop the land, they were able to partner with DE Turf and rent the portion of the land the complex currently sits on under the 60-year lease at a rate of $1 per year.

“We were trying to protect the land from incompatible uses,” Mr. Petit de Mange has said. “The last thing we needed right next to the wastewater treatment plant was a high concentration of suburban houses.”

The recent visit to Levy Court comes on the heels of commissioner’s approval of the sports complex’s plans for a “Park and Ride” facility and medical sports building back in October.

The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) will build an estimated 265-vehicle Park and Ride service on 5.069 acres on the east side of Del. 1. It will be built in conjunction with a medical service facility that will operate on the same plot of land by First State Orthopaedics and leased by DE Turf.

 

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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