Community Honors Tom Draper


by Terry Rogers



On Tuesday, the Delaware Department of Transportation dedicated a kiosk which will be placed on the Georgetown to Lewes Pathway as part of the Lewes Rail to Trail project. The kiosk was the vision of Representative Harvey Kenton, a lifelong friend of Draper’s. Draper, owner of WBOC, died in a bicycle accident in September 2017.

“This trail has been planned for several years,” Secretary of Transportation, Jennifer Cohen, said. “It is a great honor to dedicate this trail to someone who meant so much to Sussex County.”

Representative Kenton talked about how he and Draper had been friends since they were young, participating in sports together. He talked about a photo he had of himself, Draper and two other friends, all of whom went on to achieve success in college and professional sports.

“I believe we were around 15 years old when that photo was taken,” Representative Kenton said. “At that time, we had no idea what life held for us. We were just kids, really. Over the years, we all remained friends and when Tom passed, a part of me went with him. Tom loved to bike, loved the outdoors. He was actually passionate about the outdoors and having this type of trail to honor Tom and have his legacy go on is proof that he will never be forgotten.”

Senator Ernie Lopez pointed out that while many areas around the country are divided politically, the kiosk represents how Delaware builds connections. He explained how the new trail will offer a way for families to connect with each other while the trail connects central Delaware with the beaches. Senator-elect Dave Wilson talked about how Draper was a “true gentleman with a big heart” who was passionate about anything dealing with Delaware.

The first phase of the Georgetown to Lewes Trail was opened in 2016 and the dedication of the kiosk marks the start of the second phase of the project. When the trail is finished, it will parallel an active, but little-used freight line. The future of the freight line is uncertain as DelDOT has determined that the swinging bridge over the Lewes canal is too expensive to replace and is considering abandoning the line from Cold Springs to its current end at SPI Pharma.

The trail begins at Gills Neck Road, passes the Lewes water tower and many private residences with beautiful landscaped yards. After it crosses the tracks west of Adams Avenue, it serves as an access to the Junction & Breakwater Trail and passes the Lewes Public Library. It crosses the tracks again, then King’s Highway, continuing through the western portion of Lewes to its current ending at Savannah Road. The trail is perfect for biking, inline skating and walking. It is also wheelchair accessible.

“On behalf of the Draper family, I want to express sincere appreciation for Harvey for kickstarting this idea,” Hank Draper, Tom Draper’s son, said. “We are also very appreciative to DelDOT for getting it done. This is a positive outcome from a tragic event, a safe trail I Sussex County for riding is a fitting tribute and our family is thrilled that he is being honored in this way.”



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