Kent County’s Field of Dreams


Good afternoon,

If they build it, they will come – (From the movie and book Field of Dreams)

That line, minus leading man Kevin Kostner and Shoeless Joe Jackson seems to apply to the lonesome Route 1 interchange south of Dover.

Like that field in Iowa, the whiff of scandal has surrounded the interchange.

A decade or so ago, many of us driving to the beach wondered why some fertile Delaware soil was being moved around.

We went on to learn that the interchange was designed to draw economic development to Kent, a county that had not seen the influx of banking jobs or the coastal development boom enjoyed by its neighbors.

Kent has seen its share of population growth, but not to the extent of Sussex.The county has long suffered from a state government that has a sizable chunk of its employees in New Castle County, stagnant employment at Dover Air Force Base and steady job losses in manufacturing.

Like that field in Iowa, the whiff of scandal has surrounded the interchange.

The interchange did clear the way for DE Turf, which brings in seasonal revenue from traveling youth sports teams but in no way justifies the need for the interchange.

Then the fun started as the land was purchased. So far, nothing beyond DETurf has materialized, not even the usual Wawa or Royal Farms array of gas pumps and its legions of hoagie and chicken lovers.

Of late, the area has been mired in controversy over land sales and allegations of conflicts of interest that made their way into the headlines.

The back and forth that included a piece of legislation that cleared the way for Kent County room tax revenues being used to support DeTurf became law.

The Kent County Levy Court, following a controversy over the bill, said thanks but no thanks to implementing the legislation.

That was just the start, with the sale of a tract by the Delaware Department of Transportation this month generating an attack advertisement from a Political Action Committee targeting Gov. John Carney. We have also seen a lawsuit, apparently over a lack of access to the property to Route 1.

DeDOT has issued a rebuttal that is contained in the link above.

The lesson for the state, the county, and others – building interchanges without projects that justify its existence amounts to bad public policy that carries the risks of favoritism and worse.

Agree or disagree? Let me know. Simply hit reply and type away. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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