Phase One of Construction Complete on Chesapeake Oyster House Project on Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT

by Jody Hedeman Couser, Senior VP of Communications, Chesapeake Conservancy

The new riverfront park in Delaware is open to the public for recreation

Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe. Photo by Kelsey Everett/Chesapeake Gateways.

On a beautiful day in July, Chief Dennis Coker of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware offered a land acknowledgment as a celebration began to open a new park along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (Chesapeake Trail).

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (DE), Seaford Mayor David Genshaw, other elected officials, community members, and Chesapeake Conservancy Board Chair Randall Larrimore, President and CEO Joel Dunn, and Executive Vice President Mark Conway gathered at the banks of the Nanticoke River to celebrate this conservation success.

Chesapeake Conservancy partnered with the City of Seaford, Delaware and a Delaware botanical garden called the Mt. Cuba Center to secure the property on behalf of the City of Seaford in 2018. Construction on this first phase of Oyster House Park, located at the site of the old J.B. Robinson Oyster House, began in December 2020. Phase one of the project cost $1.2 million and took more than two years to complete and now the public is welcome to enjoy the expanded river walk, fishing nooks, performance deck, boat docking facilities, and a kayak launch along one of the most pristine rivers of the Chesapeake. There will be three more construction phases before the Oyster House project is finished at an estimated total cost of $4.5 million.

“I was raised in Seaford and started this project to bring people back downtown and help with the revitalization of the City,” said Larrimore. “The project is also personally rewarding. When I was a child, the river was so polluted we couldn’t swim in it. Sixty years ago, my father was mayor of Seaford and led the effort to build a sewage disposal plant. I am so proud to be helping provide greater access to the pristine Nanticoke River that my father helped clean up. This park is part of our mission to protect 30% of the Chesapeake Bay, which is now 22% protected, by 2030 to meet President Biden’s challenge.”

Chesapeake Trail, a 3,000-mile water and land trail, highlights the landscapes of the American Indians who lived in the Chesapeake region, the voyages of Captain John Smith and his crew from 1607–1609, and the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Find more on the Chesapeake Oyster House Project at: