November 14, 2008
Every once in a while there’s a connection between this column and what some folks might call my real job.
For those who don’t know, I’m a deputy attorney general in the civil division of the Attorney General’s Office. For the last 21 years, I have advised the Department of Transportation on a wide variety of issues, including land use and transportation matters.
In that capacity, this week’s work emails included my copy of a traffic impact study (TIS) review for a new Cape Region development proposal called Hunters Walk. These TIS reports assess a land use project’s potential effects on the local transportation network, and usually include recommended infrastructure improvements needed to mitigate those effects.
In its current version, Hunters Walk is proposed to consist of about 142 residential condominiums and 12,000 square feet of office space, spread out on 46 acres of land, with an entrance on Kings Highway.
Those 46 acres are currently the home of the long-running Midway Par 3 and Driving Range, which is why this routine government study affects this column.
I wrote about Midway several years ago, in an October 2003 piece featuring course owner Walt Jones, and discussing his family’s role in providing Cape Region golfers with a nice little place to play the game.
For many years, Midway Par 3 and Old Landing Golf Course on Old Landing Road were the only public golf course outlets in the Cape Region, other than the miniature golf places on the Boardwalk.
I talked to Paul Jones, Walt’s son, who is shepherding Hunters Walk through the approval process in keeping with his father’s wishes. “It’s a family partnership, but it’s Dad’s property. He wanted to preserve its value, and it’s really his retirement plan for him and his wife,” Paul said.
Nothing’s going to happen soon with the range and the golf course. “Any changes are quite some ways away,” Paul said. “We have to go through Planning and Zoning for approvals, and then go to the County Council. I expect it’ll be at least a year before we obtain the final approvals.”
“The plan is to phase the construction, with one or two buildings to start with,” the younger Jones said. “The Par 3 part of the property is where the open space will be, and we plan to operate it for as long as possible. We also plan to maintain the driving range for as long as we can.”
This story is a lot like what one hears about the Sussex County farming community and its reaction to the residential development that has come into the region in the last twenty years. Farmers see their property jump in value far beyond what it could fetch for continued cultivation of soybeans or corn, and sometimes face difficult choices.
I can’t fault Walt Jones for doing what he thinks best for his family’s financial security. On the other hand, discovering that the Midway Par 3’s days are probably numbered is a sad occasion for Cape Region golfers.
A witness from above?
Chris Messick of Milton sent me a nice story recently, and it’s well worth sharing.
Many years ago he played golf with a friend’s father, Vito Iezzi, and watched the older man make his first hole-in-one at age 66.
Messick is now 66 himself, and recently made his fourth hole-in-one in the last dozen years.
Ed Larkin, the owner of Clubhouse Golf in Rehoboth, was part of Messick’s foursome, along with Dave Houck and Billy Zelinka. Messick says he and Larkin hit good shots on hole number 14, “and when we reached the green and saw one ball a few feet from the pin I thought his had gone in the cup or one of us was over the green. But he reached in and pulled mine from the cup.”
Messick noted that he hit a 7-iron on the 136-yard hole.
And as he put it, “Hope Vito was watching.”