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On November 24, Dr. Roy Proujansky was joined by Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Department of Natural Resources Secretary David Small, and representatives from local recreation, conservation, environmental and cultural organizations to announce that The Nemours Foundation has donated nearly 46 acres of significant forestland to the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation’s Alapocas Run State Park, located just outside Wilmington.
"Alapocas Run State Park is truly an amazing urban oasis to be enjoyed not only by the residents of Wilmington, but also for visitors from the tri-state area and beyond," said Governor Jack Markell. "This generous donation by the Nemours Foundation, along with newly upgraded trails, will enable more people to experience the beauty and benefits of nature close to where they live and work, strengthening our quality of life while supporting continued economic growth."
"Alfred I. du Pont understood the healing and therapeutic benefits of nature, for both children and their families," said Dr. Roy Proujansky, chief executive of Delaware Valley Operations and Executive Vice President of The Nemours Foundation. "As stewards of Mr. du Pont’s legacy, it is fitting then that these lands be transferred to the state of Delaware and improved for the enjoyment of the community. We applaud Governor Markell and his administration for their continued partnership and tireless efforts to promote healthy living and a more walkable and bikeable Delaware."
"With this generous addition of this lush, scenic park land, residents and visitors alike have even more opportunities to enjoy the diversity of trails that are more accessible, the Can-do playground, and all of the dozens of other amenities the park offers," said DNREC Secretary David Small. "Alapocas Run State Park is a peaceful gem in an urban setting, providing a variety of activities and preserves a lasting natural legacy that enhances the quality of life for residents and users. It’s a special place to connect with nature and provide respite."
Nemours’ donation is part of a working partnership with Delaware State Parks that dates back more than 20 years. In the 1990s, a collaborative effort was begun to protect more public open space land along Brandywine Creek and around the City of Wilmington, by combining the resources of the city, county, state and the newly-created Delaware Greenways.
Through the state’s Open Space Program, Alapocas Run State Park began with an acquisition and land donation along Brandywine Creek. The state also assumed management of some city-owned parkland. At the same time the state, county, and city came together, along with the business community and area residents, to tackle a complex plan to realign Route 202 while maintaining the Rock Manor Golf Course and keeping and expanding the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical business in its current location.
During this very active time, Nemours and the Nemours Foundation were key players in many aspects of the overall project. Not only did they continue to run the world-renowned Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children and the Nemours Mansion & Gardens, the Nemours Foundation also provided land for a daycare center for the AstraZeneca employees and for road expansion. The foundation also provided valuable insight and information on the historic Blue Ball Barn, formerly part of the A.I. du Pont estate, now owned by Delaware State Parks.
A critical recreation component of this complicated project was a connection from Blue Ball Barn to Brandywine Creek through the Nemours Woods. This area was always recognized as an important landscape feature, protected and maintained by the A.I. du Pont family and then the Nemours Foundation. In 1999 the Nemours Foundation donated a conservation easement of more than 70 acres of this wooded area. It ensured that the area would not be developed and enabled a public use trail. Today’s announcement reflects the donation of 46 of these acres the State, while retaining the remaining 24 acres under conservation easement.