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Assawoman Canal Trail

HISTORY OF THE ASSAWOMAN CANAL TRAIL – PHASE 1

Project Setting:

The Assawoman Canal is a linear waterway in eastern Sussex County linking the Indian River Bay and Little Assawoman Bay. This 3.9 mile-long canal is 210 feet in width and physically links 3 municipalities and 6 communities who all share a boundary with the canal lands. The Canal property, 98.37 acres, was conveyed to the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation (Division) in 1990 “exclusively for Public Park or public recreation purposes in perpetuity”. 

In 2009, a Working Group of local leaders and Division staff was formed to explore the extraordinary recreation potential of the Assawoman Canal lands. This Working Group developed a vision that includes a pedestrian and bicycle trail and waterway access points. This vision was molded into a Concept Plan that was vetted by the public and community leaders.  The next step was to begin trail design and engineering.

The Proposed Project:

The Trail Team’s vision was to have a public linear facility for pedestrians and bicyclists connecting the 3 municipalities and adjacent communities utilizing the public-owned lands along the canal. The project would be built in phases with Phase 1 on the west bank north of Route 26.  Trail considerations include stone with fines, 8-10 feet wide meandering trail, a 20' buffer from the canal where feasible and a vegetated and/or fence buffer along the westerly property line.  Town Road Property amenities include a parking lot, canoe/kayak launch, pavilion, restroom a path between facilities and a trail bridge.

The Scope of Work:

Phase 1 incorporates approximately 1.2 miles of pedestrian and bicycle trail, trailheads and other amenities along the west bank of the Assawoman Canal from Route 26 to the Canal’s confluence with White Creek. Overall work to be completed includes pre-design investigation, schematic design (30%), conceptual design (for the Mitchell Property only), design development (60%), construction documents (90%), permitting, public outreach, bidding and contract administration for the trail, crossing at Central Ave, access to Route 26 and the development of the Town Road Property.  Design work for Phase 1, starting at Route 26, will be taken from pre-design through construction (construction design).  

This project is located entirely on State-owned property.  DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation is an eligible grant recipient for the Delaware Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund (DTF) Grant Program. The Division is not required to financial match project costs. Ocean View committed $5,000 toward the planning of the trail project and the DTF requested a $220,000 grant subject to minor changes in the contract scope and costs.