Revisions approved in Seaford’s Oyster House Park plan

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 3/1/24

The plan has changed for Oyster House Park, a multiphase project that city officials and the Chesapeake Conservancy hope becomes a jewel along the Nanticoke River.

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Revisions approved in Seaford’s Oyster House Park plan


SEAFORD — The plan has changed for Oyster House Park, a multiphase project that city officials and the Chesapeake Conservancy hope becomes a jewel along the Nanticoke River.

An amphitheater has been eliminated, but a 10-foot-wide pedestrian path has been added, replacing a visitor center. Also discarded were replicas of the oyster houses that once operated at the site.

Along with stormwater modifications, those were the notable changes approved Tuesday by City Council.

“Last year, City Council agreed to enter into agreement with Chesapeake Conservancy to revise the master plan,” said Seaford’s economic development director Trisha Newcomer. “As time has gone on, some of the components don’t necessarily fit. To make everything work with the components and the sewer, this living document needed to be changed first.”

Added Conway Bristow, a landscape architect with Harbor Group of Lewes: “We have come together to reassess how we are going to attack this master plan. We want to enhance the gateway to downtown, improve the access to the land.”

The goal, he added, is “creating places for citizens to enjoy the waterfront.”

The first phase of Oyster House Park is complete, featuring a bulkhead, a living shoreline, an extended boardwalk with fishing nooks, a canoe/kayak floating launch, a performance dock and boat-docking areas.

An initial linchpin was the relocation of an interceptor sewer line that runs through the property prior to any subsequent work.

“It was contingent upon that,” said Ms. Newcomer. “But there may be some things that we can do now that we have a revised master plan. It has not been set in stone yet. Probably not before, it would be simultaneous, if we did that.”

In July 2022, the city obtained a $1.2 million federal allocation for the sewer line’s relocation, but there is no timeline on when that will happen, Ms. Newcomer added.

With the elimination of the amphitheater, Phase 2 instead calls for a large, open lawn area that could accommodate up to 150 people, approximately double the capacity in the original plan.

The oyster house structure has been removed, as well, in lieu of a pavilion. Stairways and handicapped-accessible provisions are also included.

In addition, the proposed pedestrian path will be constructed with permeable material, able to support emergency and utility vehicles.

Rekindling a chapter in Seaford’s history, Oyster House Park, along the banks of the Nanticoke River, will serve as a trailhead, allowing the public to explore the land and learn about the city’s history and the river, in collaboration with the Seaford Museum.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a couple hundred people down there along the waterfront? I just think that is awesome,” said Mayor David Genshaw. “All of us are going to benefit from this park building out into the future.”

The changes were supported by council’s 5-0 vote Tuesday, though Councilman James King said he is concerned about parking.

“I feel that the community really wants this. I can see some type of event, and 150 people showing up,” he said.

In response, landscape architect Matt Spong noted that Oyster House Park is within walking distance of downtown and that there are about 65 parking spaces at a church lot. Reconfiguration to create diagonal parking on Cannon Street could yield an additional 30 spots.

The park’s beginnings were in June 2018, when the Chesapeake Conservancy acquired the property and gave it back to the city. The master plan was first approved by City Council on Feb. 25, 2020.

“The conservancy has partnered with you with this property, the Oyster House Park and its development from the very beginning,” said Susan Moerschel, Seaford’s liaison with the agency. “The conservancy looks to continuing its participation and partnership with the city in turning Oyster House Park into a waterfront gem that serves ... Seaford and becomes a shining brighter spot for the entire Chesapeake watershed.”

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