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Sussex Countian
  • Georgetown eyes property, fundraising for new playground

  • A committee tasked with examining new playground opportunities in Georgetown has identified some potential properties and is now hoping to raise the money needed to develop them.
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  • THE ISSUE
    A committee tasked with examining new playground opportunities in Georgetown has identified some potential properties and is now hoping to raise the money needed to develop them.
    Town Councilman Bill West, who is heading the town's playground committee, said the most promising location is a vacant town-owned property on North King Street.
    The town purchased the two parcels, which together total about one-third of an acre, in late 2007 and early 2008 while looking to acquire land for a new town hall. That plan later fell through and the property has remained vacant ever since.
    "If we had $300,000, we might look at the possibility of land we could purchase and develop, but we need to crawl before we can walk," West said. "That's why we started by looking at property the town already owns or leases."
    West said the committee is still considering the possibility of a playground at the North Bedford Street Park, which the town leases from the Georgetown Presbyterian Church at $1 per year.
    However, that arrangement is not formally spelled out in a legally-binding contract and West said there are concerns about what would happen to a playground if the church decides to expand.
    "We're still planning to talk to the church about the possibility of using the park, but right now it looks like the King Street property is a better fit in the short term," he said. "There are some other options out there, but we're still looking at all of them. The committee is focused on making this happen somewhere."
    BACKGROUND
    Georgetown, which does not have a parks and recreation department, first considered developing more active recreational opportunities at the North Bedford Street Park in 2005.
    At the time, the town paid a Dover-based architect $4,000 to develop a conceptual drawing of the proposed upgrades, but the plan never came to fruition due to a lack of funding and concerns raised by members of the church.
    Following the introduction of a proposed ordinance that would have barred residents from playing in town streets this summer, town council opted instead to have a seven-member committee reexamine the Bedford Street proposal and investigate other potential locations for a playground.
    The seven-member committee presented an update on its findings at last week's town council meeting.
    WHAT'S NEXT
    West said the committee is working to come up with a design for the King Street playground through a state-contracted architect.
    In the meantime, committee members will begin the process of seeking donations and contributions from town residents and area businesses, as well as applying for grants from various organizations and charitable foundations.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We need to get the people of Georgetown involved with the goal of making this a better place for their children and grandchildren," he said. "This has to be a community-wide effort if it's going to work."
    Letters and flyers seeking donations will be mailed out by early next month, he said.
    "We're hoping that with the election and Return Day coming up, this will be a great time to let people know what we're trying to do," he said.
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