Coastal development and open spaces — are they mutually exclusive? Sussex County saw almost a 40% growth in population during the 1990s, mostly in the coastal area. This growth in population was necessarily coupled with a period of unprecedented residential and commercial development. Although this growth has stimulated the local economy, there is increased public concern that the natural amenities that initially drew people to this area are being lost.
On Monday, November 25, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., a seminar on “Community Planning for Open Space and Natural Resource Protection” will be held at the University of Delaware’s Virden Center on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. The event is being organized by the UD Sea Grant College Program and the Greater Lewes Foundation. Other sponsors include the Center for the Inland Bays, Delaware Coastal Programs, Sussex County Council, Positive Growth Alliance, Citizens Coalition, and the Delaware Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The purpose of the seminar is to suggest ways that communities and citizens can work together to incorporate plans for open space and protect natural resources as development continues. It is geared to local planning officials, developers, environmentalists, as well as interested public. Presentations by land-use planners and environmental educators from national and local programs will be featured.
“Places that were once open space — working farms with pastoral views, coastal areas with panoramic vistas of the bays and coastline, quiet country roads — are being converted to residential developments, retail outlets, schools, and workplaces,” says Joe Farrell, a marine resource management specialist for the UD Sea Grant College Program and one of the seminar organizers. “How long can this level of growth be sustained, and what will be left?
“As development continues, it is more important than ever to plan for open space,” continues Farrell. “It serves vital functions in our communities such as natural resource management and protection, outdoor recreation, areas that protect public health and safety, and cultural resource protection.”
Seminar attendees will learn about the many benefits that open space provides to the community. In addition, local groups will share their ideas in how to finance and protect open space. The seminar also is designed to build relationships that will lead to innovative partnerships in open space planning and natural resource protection.
Featured speakers include Ed McMahon, vice-president and director of the Conservation Fund in Arlington, Virginia. McMahon is the author of 8 books and more than 150 articles on topics related to sustainable development, greenways, land conservation, growth management, urban design, tourism, and historic preservation. His presentation, “Dollars and Sense of Growing Smarter,” will focus on the economic, environmental, and social benefits of better development.
Also speaking will be Jim Gibbons, a land-use educator at the University of Connecticut and co-director of the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) based at the University of Connecticut. NEMO focuses on the water-quality impacts of land-use decisions. In his presentation “Planning for Open Space,” Gibbons will discuss the “nuts and bolts” of open space planning and natural resource protection.
In addition, Jose Alminana and Teresa Durkin will present examples of how their company, Andropogon Associates, Ltd., has incorporated ecologically and culturally sensitive designs into community places. Andropogon, a world-recognized landscape architecture firm, is currently involved in the Lewes Canalfront project.
The seminar costs $30 per person, and advanced registration is required. To register, contact Rita Baty at the UD Sea Grant College Program in Lewes at (302) 645-4346, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. UD’s Virden Center is located on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes.