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White Clay Creek State Park master plan still seeking public input

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
The White Clay Creek State Park nature center

Officials say the White Clay Creek State Park master plan is in the beginning stages and no firm recommendations have yet been made.




But after three open houses for public comment, State Parks Director Ray Bivens says planners are considering feedback from a diverse group of park users.


“There’s some people that want to see more roads closed that are turned into trails, but there’s some people on the other side that would like to see more access to drive some of the trails,” he said.


Bill Miller is the lead planner for White Clay. He says the biggest issue the plan hopes to tackle is what to do with underutilized or outdated buildings in the park.


“We have to figure out are we going to use them for park staff somehow, are we going to use them some way in the park for interpretation or programs, maybe there’s opportunity for partnership with a business,” he said.


Bivens adds that one of the chief concerns is enhancing the nature center and making it more accessible.

“It’s one of the most heavily used and popular nature centers in our state park system as a whole. But it’s also a historic structure that’s limited on parking, limited on the amount of kids that it can serve,” he said.

Bivens says the plan may also address park expansion.

Officials say three open houses held so far this summer have brought out more than 200 comments— and that an online surveyabout the park has gotten over 700 submissions so far.

Bivens calls White Clay Creek State Park “the people’s park.”

“People that are still alive and active in the community helped save this park from becoming a huge lake or a reservoir at one point,” he said. “Just the fact that you have this massive park in this urban corridor, from Philadelphia down to Baltimore, is amazing.”

Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
A trail at White Clay Creek State Park

He says White Clay Creek sees high levels of volunteer support.

The fourth and final open house will be held August 20th, and will consider recreation in the park.

State parks planners aim to have a draft plan by the end of the calendar year.

According to an economic analysis commissioned by the Division of Parks and Recreation, White Clay Creek State Park counted over 175,000 attendees in Fiscal Year 2016/2017.

Visitors to the park that year spent over $2 million in the state, according to the report.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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