Community members of Frederica assembled on Tuesday, July 8 to discuss the current status of the proposed Kent County Regional Sports Complex that was planned to break ground in 2015. Organizer Robert Murphy called together local individuals and business owners at the Frederica Fire Hall on Tuesday evening to present information on what has prevented construction of the complex and to form a committee of people to bring a message of urgency for the project to the State of Delaware.
During the current recession The Greater Dover Committee (GDC) took economic development into their own hands, by creating the framework for Kent County Regional Sports Complex just north of Milford in Frederica. The new sports complex is to include an indoor facility and 15 fields, which will host mainly soccer, lacrosse and field hockey events and could draw up to 10 major annual sports tournaments. According to demographic research done by the Greater Dover Committee, the size of the future sports complex will allow it to compete not only for sports tournaments in the local and regional market but the entire Mid-Atlantic market, which includes a 120 minute radius and 9.93 million individuals.
After three years of tireless meetings, debates and presentations by GDC, the Delaware Infrastructure Investment Committee (IIC) approved more than $3.2 million for the project that has a predicted $18 million annual economic impact. This investment by the IIC was necessary as the impact to the area required the construction of an overpass over Route 1 that connects Tub Mill Pond to Milford Neck Rock. The construction of the overpass was put on hold after Delaware Department of Transportation (DELDOT) enacted a new prioritization method of major infrastructure projects which left the South Frederica overpass at the bottom of the list.
At Tuesday night’s gathering Ray Harbeson,an Associate with RK&K, which he joined in 2001 after 33 years with DELDOT, spoke to the group and stated that the problem was more complex than most people believe and that calling local legislators alone would not fix the problem.
“The problem is far more complex than you think it is, this problem has been unfolding for 15 years,” commented Harbeson. “The bigger problem is the depletion of the money in the Infrastructure Investment Fund. It was used as capital for infrastructure but over time it was used for other needs.”
Linda Parkowski, Director of Tourism for the State of Delaware, stated that the Kent County Regional Sports Complex project was discussed with the State of Delaware as a great investment in economic development and that members of the GDC were promised, on several occasions, that the project would begin in Fiscal Year 2015.
“The Greater Dover Committee worked tirelessly on the complex for years but the rating system pretty much put it on hold,” commented Parkowski. “This project is shovel ready and they were promised time after time that it would begin in Fiscal year 2015. It would make for a great investment in our children. The project will still work, we just need to figure out a way to get it done.”
Delaware Union President Bryan “Skip” Ford, representing the soccer association that will partner with the complex, stressed the economic effect that the Kent County Regional Sports Complex could have on the surrounding area. He stated that this complex would attract soccer families from a two and a half hour radius which includes soccer communities in Long Island, NY, PA, Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach.
“Families that play in these soccer tournaments drop between $300 and $700 per weekend as they spend money on local hotels, restaurants and entertainment,” commented Ford. “This complex has the ability to attract over 50 million players and families from the surrounding region.”
Following public comment, Sarah Murphy proposed that a committee be formed for two purposes: to bring the message of the importance for the Kent County Regional Sports Complex to State officials and to keep an eye on DELDOT to make sure they are serving the people of Delaware.
“This town has projects on hold because of this project,” commented Murphy. “We already know that the complex has a projected economic impact of more than $18 million annually and the creation of 300 jobs in Kent County. How many jobs will it create and how much money will it bring in addition to what we already know.”
The committee Friends of Kent County Regional Sports Complex has been established and members are urging citizens to attend an open meeting on Monday, July 21 at Kent County Levy Court where the future of the complex will be discussed. To find out mote information about the Friends of Kent County Regional Sports Complex, individuals are asked to email Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.