Plans are officially underway for a new gymnasium and ball fields, as well as additional parking, at Delmarva Christian High School’s new facility on Sussex Pines Road in Georgetown.
The school recently received site plan approval from the Georgetown Planning Commission for the 25,000-square-foot gymnasium, which Principal Mike Vonhof said will have space for two full basketball or volleyball courts, bleacher seating for 650 people, a full stage for performing arts, classrooms, office space and locker room facilities.
“When we looked at this building, we were really excited about a lot of its components, but one piece we saw missing was a stage area and an indoor athletics area to house competitions,” Vonhof said. “It’s important to us to have both arts and athletics as part of our mission.”
Earlier this summer, Delmarva Christian swapped its 122,000-square-foot school on Airport Road for Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences’ 38,000-square-foot school on Sussex Pines Road. Both schools cited adjustments to their growth projections as the impetus for the exchange.
Sussex Academy, formerly a sixth through eighth grade charter school, received approval in April 2012 to add high school to its program. The school considered building a larger facility, but learned Delmarva Christian had reassessed its growth. Based upon feasibility projections made 12 years ago, Delmarva Christian’s original facility was built to serve 700 students. Now, the school expects to grow from its current enrollment of 177 to a target of 350.
In addition to what Delmarva Christian is calling its “Arts and Athletics Center,” the school is revamping its outdoor sports facilities. Vonhof said at the beginning of the summer, Delmarva Christian resurfaced and planted Bermuda grass at two existing fields, which will be used this season for field hockey and soccer. At the same time, Vonhof said, the school began conducting leveling and grading work for baseball and softball fields.
“The irrigation is finished and the seeding work for the infield and outfield is done,” he said. “We’re hopeful that if all goes well, those fields will be ready for the spring.”
As per town code, the new facility must be accompanied by 185 additional parking spaces, a number derived from the “number of gymnasium seats and the number of students proposed to use the facility,” said project engineer Bob Palmer of Beacon Engineering & Consulting.
However, to accommodate an increased need for parking during events like commencement, Palmer said the school is proposing construction of a turf parking lot on one of its fields. This would allow space for a total of 240 vehicles.
“In order to be environmentally conscious, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to put in that much permanent paving,” Palmer said. “The expectation is that we’re going to provide turf paving, or turf reinforced material.”
Page 2 of 2 - Although the Planning Commission granted site plan approval, Delmarva Christian does not yet have the green light to begin construction. According to Jamie Craddock, planning assistant with the Georgetown Planning Department, the school must finish its engineering, address comments from the town’s engineer and receive outside approval from agencies like the DelDOT and the Delaware Fire Marshal. Then, Craddock said, the school’s site plan must receive administrative approval from the Planning Department before it can apply for building permits.