Lease signed with Sussex Land Trust

Cape Gazette | July 15, 2014

The Sussex County Land Trust and the Delaware Botanic Gardens achieved a historic milestone in the creation of a public botanic garden in Sussex County. By signing a renewable 99-year lease, the two nonprofit organizations marked the official start of the multiyear process, which will culminate in a world-class botanic garden being built on the 37-acre site located on Piney Neck Road approximately one mile east of the town of Dagsboro. This topographically significant site includes a mature upland forest and wetlands with over 1,000 feet of waterfront along Pepper Creek.

Dennis Forney, chair of the SCLT board, said, "This botanic garden will become a special place that will enhance the quality of life here in Sussex County. Our residents and our visitors will treasure this botanic garden, which will also sereve to educate all to understand the value of conservation. In keeping with the overall mission of the SCLT, the Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek will enable us to pass on the best of our values to the next generation."

Michael Zajic, founder and president of the DBG board, thanked the SCLT board for their vision, leadership and foresight for protecting and sustaining significant parcels of land throughout Sussex County. "By your commitment over the last twelve years, you have made Sussex County a more fulfilling place to live. My board and I are equally committed to living up to the high standards the SCLT has set and to creating a beautiful, educational, public space for all Sussex residents and for visitors from our state and from across Delmarva."

Zajic concluded, "We ned to recognize the genrous pro bono contributions we have received from Sussex business leaders. The management and engineering expertise of Mark Davidson and the entire Pennoni organization have enabled this project to start. This historic lease would not have been possible without the great legal work of Heidi Gilmore of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt LL and Jim Fuqua of Fuqua Yori and Willard PA. Now that we have taken the first step in making this dream a reality, we must begin the task of raising the funds needed to build this vision of accessible and sustainable recreational open space."