Improving economy demands improved infrastructure
Slowly and steadily, development and the construction industry are returning to Sussex County. National statistics show the once-glutted stock of housing is shrinking.
Prices have stabilized and are starting to rise instead of continuing to fall. People in highly taxed surrounding states such as New Jersey and, increasingly, Maryland, anxious to migrate to Delaware, are suddenly finding the way to do it. With the calendar marching onward and their houses beginning to sell, more people are headed our way. Delaware’s low taxes, beaches and shopping provide an irresistible draw.
The certain migration brings an improving economy. As is ever the case, we have to be smart enough to use the additional public resources that come with an improving economy to update our infrastructure, and protect and enhance our public open space so critical to our quality of life.
Route 24 and Route 9, two major west-to-east arteries providing access to the coastal areas from the developing inland areas of Sussex, need serious upgrade attention. Now is the time to plan and contract for those improvements. There is no question that the development is coming and will continue to come for the next few decades. Sussex is zoned for development, and people want to be here.
Our open-space infrastructure also deserves attention. At this point, counting farmland preservation, wildlife management areas, state parks, Redden State Forest and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and private reserved holdings such as the Great Cypress Swamp, there are about 100,000 acres of permanently preserved open space in Sussex.
By harnessing the economic strength that comes with development, and using enlightened public funding to link all of those open space areas, the acres of preserved open space could and should be doubled to 200,000 so we and the wildlife and nature we cherish can continue to exist and contribute to our appealing, and we hope sustainable, quality of life.