The developer of the Kent County 55+ Community, Champions’ Club at Jonathan’s Landing, was deeded two parcels of land totaling 32.7-acres, which had previously been used as an additional nine holes to Jonathan’s Landing 18-hole golf course. Recognizing the burden of cost to maintain these properties for mowing and maintenance, along with the immediate and long-term liabilities, the Champions’ Club Homeowners Association (HOA) worked with the developer to hire Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc. (DBF), to design a use that would be a functional space for the residents to still enjoy, as well as greatly reduce the costs for on-going maintenance. Both parcels were then converted into the Champions’ Club Greenway, a mosaic of trails and natural habitats that support small animals, both local and migrating birds, and critically needed pollinators such as honeybees while significantly reducing maintenance costs.
Understanding the size and scope of this ambitious project, the HOA reached out to several partners to ensure the projects implementation would be successful. These partners included the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Services (UD COOP Extension), Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control/Division of Fish and Wildlife (DNREC/DEFW), Delaware Department of Agriculture/Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kent County Department of Planning Services Division of Inspection and Enforcement. In cooperation of all parties involved, a plan was put in place to reduce mowing immediately.
The north parcel was designed to be reforested with a diversity of native deciduous and evergreen trees, and the southern parcel was designed to have multiple different types of forests, as well as establish a variety of different meadowlands. A Champions’ Club Greenway naturalization project team was assembled and a conservation landscaping plan was implemented promoting environmentally sound designs using native plants to create passive open space areas that help protect clean air and water, support wildlife populations and established areas which showcase a ‘sense of place’ and a healthier environment. Walking trails were maintained, and benches were strategically placed in designated observation areas to provide recreational opportunities such as nature photography, painting, and connecting to nature, all while watching from a distance to not disturb the wildlife in their natural environment.
To reduce the costs of the implementation of this plan, DNREC, the University of Delaware and Delaware Forest Service donated approximately 4,000 saplings to the HOA to be planted for this project. To further reduce costs, the HOA created planting days in which volunteers from the community planted these saplings. In total 22.7-acres was planted for forests, 5.5-acres was planted for meadows, and the remainder was kept as turf for use as trails or observation areas.