Sussex County, land trust partner team to preserve open space

GEORGETOWN — Sussex County has renewed its partnership to protect its past by investing in its future.

County Council at Tuesday’s meeting unanimously approved allocating $450,000 from reserves to purchase a 30.67-acre property located off U.S. 9 at Cool Spring Road.

Council’s vote of approval was 5-0.

County Council President Michael H. Vincent said Sussex County is committed to maintaining a lasting partnership with the land trust.

“Protecting Sussex County’s natural, unspoiled landscapes is critically important, not just to ensure that we preserve open spaces for future generations, but also to safeguard the very essence of who and what we are as a community,” Mr. Vincent said.

“It’s our quality of life and beautiful scenery that help make this area special, and the County is proud to do its part.”

The decision marks the first funding allocation by the county in nearly 10 years to the Sussex County Land Trust, a non-profit organization formed in 2001 dedicated to protecting natural, cultural, agricultural and recreational resources through land preservation, stewardship and education.

Michael Vincent

Sussex County in 2002 adopted a partnership with the Sussex County Land Trust.

Under a longstanding partnership with the organization, the county will provide a portion of the funding needed to purchase the property.

The Sussex County Land Trust, in turn, utilizing additional funds from the state and private donations, will purchase the property to protect it from future development.

Long-range plans are to tie the property into a biking/walking trail system linking Georgetown and Lewes/Rehoboth.

Since 2003, including this most recent effort, the county and land trust have joined forces to use a mix of public and private dollars to purchase and preserve open space throughout Sussex.

The county has committed an estimated $6.1 million, saving 951 acres in that effort.

Sussex County Finance Director Gina Jennings said the county has put aside money from budget surpluses and funding is presently available for this use.

“There is money there in the budget,” Ms. Jennings said.

“We need to preserve any open space that makes sense and is right,” said county councilman Irwin “I.G.” Burton.

County councilman Rob Arlett termed this “is a very good use of tax dollars.”

 

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