FENWICK ISLAND – A Delaware agency released its survey results and responses to frequently asked questions regarding proposed improvements at Fenwick Island State Park this week, but stopped short of making any formal decision allowing an offshore wind developer to build an interconnection facility in return.
On Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) released survey results and answers to the public’s questions surrounding a proposal that would bring roughly $18 million in capital improvements to Fenwick Island State Park in exchange for the placement of an onshore interconnection facility.
Last October, the DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation announced a proposal which, if approved, would allow wind farm developer Ørsted to construct an onshore power transmission facility at Fenwick Island State Park in exchange for millions of dollars in park improvements, including a new nature center, new bathrooms, a pedestrian overpass and additional parking, to name a few.
Ørsted is one of the two companies holding permits for offshore wind energy farms off the coast. While its Skipjack wind farm project is considered a Maryland project – going through the Maryland Public Service Commission for regulatory approval – Ørsted must bring its transmission lines ashore and has targeted the state park as a future home for the interconnection facility.
From Oct. 2, 2019, to Jan. 15, 2020, the Division of Parks & Recreation utilized an online survey to capture public comments regarding the proposed improvements at Fenwick Island State Park.
Out of 2,646 respondents, 64% visit the park once a month or less while 25% visit the park at least a few times per week, the survey shows. Nearly 75% owned property in Fenwick Island or one of the nearby surrounding coastal communities, while 21% did not live or work in the area.
The survey shows 478 requests to renovate the existing parking area or create additional parking facilities, 351 requests to renovate and expand bathhouse and restroom facilities, 144 requests to expand food concession opportunities and 113 requests to improve traffic patterns. Topping the list of amenities participants would like to see added to the park include walking paths to connect Fenwick Island, a nature center, food concessions, shade structures and observation areas.
Out of 2,239 responses, roughly half of survey participants said they believed the proposed plan would improve the traffic concerns at the park.
“Additional concerns were addressed related to the Skipjack project and additional traffic to the park for the amenity improvements,” a statement from the survey reads.
The public comment process also generated numerous questions about park improvements, the Skipjack offshore wind project and environmental impacts. Officials said the answers released on Wednesday “aim to clarify and distinguish the division’s role and the regulators’ role in the review of the Fenwick Island State Park project.”
Despite DNREC’s response this week, the agency stopped short of announcing any decision with regard to the wind developer’s use of Fenwick Island State Park for the interconnection facility. The agency said Ørsted’s proposal to invest in park improvements is separate from regulatory consideration of the wind farm, which is proposed to be developed regardless of the state park’s involvement.
To view the survey results, or to read the division’s response to frequently asked questions, visit www.destateparks.com/FenwickImprovements.
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