Delawareans in the Yorklyn area can now hike, bike, or even ride in a Stanley Steamer on a scenic shared use trail. Governor Jack Markell (D) and other state and local officials invited walkers and bicyclists to join them Monday as they opened the initial leg of the Auburn Heights trail, the first project completed as a part of the Governor’s Trails and Pathways Initiative. The one mile loop is the first phase of a six mile trail that will eventually connect Yorklyn to Hockessin, Kennett Square, and Wilmington.
State officials open the Auburn Heights Trail in Yorklyn.
The trail coincides with Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) multi-phase project to revitalize the town of Yorklyn, once home to the now abandoned NVF manufacturing plant and zinc treatment facility. DNREC’s plan for Yorklyn also includes cleaning up decades of industrial contamination, restoring floodplains, and encouraging development of shopping and eating establishments.
“Delawarean and visitors will find in Yorklyn a great new place to hike and bike,” said Governor Markell. “It’s good for the local economy and provides jobs in the area by helping revitalize this community.”
A unique aspect of the Auburn Heights Trail is the inclusion of approved vintage automobiles. After Markell and other officials cut the ceremonial ribbon, they took a tour of the trail in a 1915 Stanley Mountain Wagon, a steam powered bus from the nearby Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights Preserve.
The Trails and Pathways Initiative was launched in 2011 after the Delaware General Assembly requested a study on building and maintaining pathways between communities specifically for non-motorized travel. The plan was allocated $7 million in the Fiscal Year 2012 Capital Improvements Budget. Another $13 million has recently approved for Fiscal Year 2013.
While one of the goals of the Trails and Pathways Initiative is community improvement, Governor Markell made it clear that improving the health of Delawareans is another crucial element, citing that Delaware has the 19th most obese population in the U.S.
“We need people to get outside. We need people to be active,” said Gov. Markell. “And when we make these kinds of investments in trails and pathways, it is much more likely that they will be active.”
Kent and Sussex Counties have 10 proposed trails’ projects that will be a part of the Trails and Pathways Initiative. DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara specifically cited projects in Silver Lake, Downtown Dover, Ted Harvey, as well as trails connecting Rehoboth and Georgetown to Lewes.
“There really are great projects in all three counties that folks can look forward to,” said O’Mara.