, 2022-08-22 08:55:48,
The splash pad is set to be located west of the eastern parking lot at Trap Pond State Park. (Delaware State Parks photo)
Trap Pond in Laurel, Del., has served many purposes in its centuries of existence, but for the past 22 years, it has been missing a key element: recreational-quality water.
The pond closed to swimmers 22 years ago due to often high bacteria levels. Today, there are no publicly owned pools or other recreational water facilities in western Sussex County, according to the 2022 Trap Pond State Park Master Plan.
But that is about to change, reported Wilmington’s Delaware News Journal in an article published Aug. 17.
Following more than a decade of efforts by stakeholders, the state has provided $2.5 million for the construction of a splash pad at Trap Pond.
State Rep. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, told the newspaper, “We hope within the next year here, we’ll be moving dirt.”
From Industrial to Recreational
Trap Pond started out as a logging pond, transporting lumber cut from bald cypress and Atlantic white cedar trees. Today, it is still home to one of the northernmost bald cypress stands in the country.
Later, the pond was used as a mill, noted William Koth, a park interpreter.
“It is important to remember, the area spent much more time being an industrial area than a protected resource,” he wrote in a Delaware State Parks blog.
It was not until 1936 that the federal government, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, bought the land surrounding Trap Pond and added recreational infrastructure like pavilions and grills, according to Koth. Prior to that, the pond was privately owned.
“While there is no doubt that recreation such as swimming and fishing took place,” wrote Koth, the pond was not open to the public.
Trap Pond officially became Delaware’s first state park in 1951, the Wilmington news source noted, and its biggest draw at that time, arguably, was swimming.
Park Once Divided by Racial Barriers
But in the era of segregation, there were two separate swimming areas at the park. White people swam in front of where the Baldcypress Nature Center is now, while Black people swam on the other side, at Jason Beach.
The latter became a special gathering place for Black residents in the 1950s and ’60s. It was used for church services, baptisms, picnics and other social events. A historical marker was placed there earlier this year commemorating…
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