Quality of Life in Sussex County Delaware. Facts, Statistics, Observations and even opinions!
We Sussex Countians are fortunate in many ways as we have a wonderful quality of life here.
Our climate for one thing is the best in the region. The United States Department of Agriculture has a map that shows the temperature zones for plants (and people). This map http://www.growit.com/ZONES/ shows Delaware in the same climate band as mid-Texas, northern Georgia, and the Carolinas. Delaware is by far the northern most place for this climate. Southern Delaware, although not delineated on this map is shown as one zone more southerly in the more detailed maps you get for planting flowers and vegetables as shown in gardening texts.
Sussex County Delaware has a winter climate and temperature that equals the Carolinas, Georgia and northern Florida. It has a summer climate and temperature that is more like New York and Massachusetts. The reason for this is the tempering effects of the large bodies of water that surround Sussex County have more local effect on keeping us cool in Summer and Warm in winter than the land does. The closer you get to the water the more this is true. The Eastern Sussex area is almost identical to Boston temperatures in the summer and Tampa temperatures in the winter.
Driving and Commuting Distance:
In Sussex County we feel we are far enough from everything and close enough to all that's important. While we enjoy and idyllic rural and resort lifestyle here, we are a couple of hours to the cities. When I lived in L.A. most of us drove two or more hours each way to work. Southern Californians spend 4 to 8 hours a day in their cars - no wonder the car culture is so strong there. In two hours we can be past Wilmington to Philadelphia and beyond; past Baltimore and into Washington D.C. and beyond and to the south we can reach Norfolk in just over two hours. The slowest part of each of these trips is the first 45 minutes which are on our picturesque Colonial roads, but then we hit the open roads and the miles click on by. We are about 90 minutes to any of four International Airports - take your pick: Dulles, Reagan, Baltimore Washington or Philadelphia. We have air commuter service 45 minutes away in Salisbury or Newcastle. Charter service is available in Georgetown right here in the middle of Sussex County.
Telecommuting and Teleworking:
Sussex County, especially just west of the beach areas is a rapidly growing area for telecommuting. The ultra-high-speed cable access to the Internet is available anywhere that Comcast Cable television service is. This cable modem service is about 10-30 times faster than dial-up service and makes all the difference if you are on line all day like Kate and I are. Although the cable modem costs about $50 a month, you can split it and without a drop in speed have two or three people in your home on the same hookup - that makes it very cost effective. I specialize in helping those who do, or want, to telecommute or as they say in Europe and the Federal Government, to telework. We have helped numerous people move in and work from home. The various government agencies are now pressing more and more people to telework at least a few days a week. If you go to the various federal web sites most if not all of them have criteria and jobs for teleworkers - check it out. And don't forget your favorite jobs anywhere - you may be able to work here and have a job in any other place on earth or at least any other place in America.
Our crime, what there is of it, is mostly out of state speeders on the highways. Some of our visitors are of the opinion (right or wrong) that our major source of state income in Delaware is fines from speeding tickets. That is the primary function of our police on a daily basis. We are certainly not crime free but we are safer than most places. In fact of our serious crimes, most are DUI, Driving Under the Influence and still our statistics are that of a very peaceful and laid back rural area.
Size and Density:
Sussex County is the largest county east of the Mississippi River with 938 square miles! Sussex has almost the exact same size as the other two counties of Delaware combined; yet we have only about 15% of the state population with our 120,000 people. That relates to only 128 people per square mile, compared to almost 1100 people per square mile in our northern county, New Castle.
Financial and Economic Vitality:
Southern Delaware is uniquely a haven for the self employed. The economic vitality of Sussex County, especially eastern Sussex County, is primarily that of self employment in addition to jobs in education, law enforcement, lodging, health care, Real Estate of course, Real Estate law, residential and commercial building and construction, which is related, and retail management. Part of the reason for our overall economic health is that our owner operated businesses are so diverse. There are no huge corporations employing thousands of people in high paying jobs that can crash or affect our economy in any way. We also have a growing and vibrant arts community of fine artists, writers, and musicians who live here and gain income from a wide national and international area. As the teleworking era grows here this self-employed base will grow and diversify even more.
We have so many cultural events in the so called off-season that we are developing another season which some are calling the aesthetics season to complement the beach tourism season. The arts are a measure of the richness of our lives, our community and our economy. The arts are a multi-million dollar industry here when our aesthetics season visitors rent rooms, rent homes for the several day events, eat at our restaurants, shop at our hundreds of outlet stores and otherwise spend time and money in our various establishments. We have a couple of local pre-university schools which feature art and music education which studies show enhance problem solving and abstract thinking abilities of students in whatever field they may end up in; arts or not.
Many of us are working to further enhance the emphasis on the arts here. There are many ways we can individually work to increase our cultural assets. One business could support art in public places. An individual can contribute time, money, or expertise to cultural organizations. All these efforts will help stimulate an on-going cycle of learning, investment, and growth in our region. And, of course the most important thing we can do is attend and invite friends in from out of town to attend as many of these events and functions as possible.
For many decades, tourism has been the backbone of our local, eastern Sussex County economy. We are well known, in Rehoboth Beach, as The Nation's Summer Capital. Our other beaches are regionally favored above all others: Dewey Beach for the skim board surfing and parties; Bethany Beach for the bedroom community family oriented beachy place and Fenwick Island for the fine homes and fine beaches that are revered by those who relish home life without adjacent commercial activities. Of course Fenwick Island is very close to thousands of commercial enterprises in Ocean City Maryland.
Visitors bring money into our local economy, support local businesses, which provide jobs, and they pay for gas, rooms, home rentals and room sales taxes. We increasingly enjoy higher returns from our visitors thus maximizing on our investments. Bringing millions and millions of visitors to our Delaware Beach area affects not only our economy but also our transportation system, our water system and our natural environment. Studies show that different types of visitors have different impacts. For example, visitors who attend an arts event typically stay longer and spend more money.
Tourism is evolving. Our Bed and Breakfast establishments for instance are a major factor in bicycle tourism, bird watching and corporate and executive think-tank retreats. We are developing different types of visitors to our area while maintaining our lifestyle, economic vitality, and environmental quality. Emphasizing outdoor recreation, clean air, wide-open spaces and beautiful scenery, we can attract "eco-friendly" visitors. Camping, for instance, is a large and growing eco-tourism feature where thousands of our campsites host those who enjoy the area and often stay right at the camp most of the time. Canoeing and kayaking, sea kayaking, the kite festival, jet skis and other personal watercraft as well as boating, fishing, sailing and that most usual of all eco-tourism pursuits; beach walking, are all growing by several percent each year.
Historic Appreciation and Preservation:
Lewes, Milton and Georgetown all have (in that order) substantial historic preservation districts. Purchasing and restoring as well as maintaining these historic homes and shops is a major and growing contributing factor to our economy and local aesthetic beauty. There are hundreds of homes in Lewes and Milton with extensive restoration work done. Some of these are now Bed and Breakfast Inns. Many of these Historic sites are listed in the national or state register of historic places because of their importance to community, their place in state history or prehistory, or due to significance in architecture, archeology, or culture. Many of these places are not suitably listed by beautiful never the less and important to all of us. Sussex County has listed several buildings in the National/State Register in recent years. Retaining our existing stock and extending the longevity of historic resources keeps the past vivid in our daily lives. Travelers tend to plan longer trips around historic sites.
Education is a critical element in our community's quality of life. Our vision for the future creates a world-class education system that is challenging and diverse enough to encourage the highest levels of student and faulty achievement, works in partnership with families and the community, and provides life-long learning opportunities. Sussex Technical & Community College, Wilmington College, Goldey Beacon Business Schools, University of Delaware and more are active campuses here in Salt Water Sussex County. A thriving economy is essential to the education system. Healthy families ensure that students are ready to learn. A vibrant arts community and our unique natural environment provide opportunities for hands-on learning. We have numerous work study programs particularly in education, the arts, health care, law enforcement, oceanography, environmentalism and commercial boating. Our region will continue to enhance the strength, depth and diversity of our region's education system. Educational excellence is fundamental to our competitive economy, a healthy environment, self-sufficient families, and an outstanding community. Our elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in the Cape Henlopen School District and nearby areas are usually at or near the top of the Delaware education system success gradients.
Health and wellness are fundamental to community prosperity. A healthy community embraces all aspects of health. Our vision of a healthy future focuses on healthy behavior and prevention which allows people to celebrate and live life to its fullest and ensures accessible care to encourage the best health outcomes. State of the art technology will allow people with critical needs to get care in their own community. Dedicated and caring doctors, nurses and caregivers are at the heart of our health care system. A thriving economy and good jobs ensure that families have access to health care. A clean environment offering rich recreational choices supports healthy families. Affordable, accessible health care is essential to our vision of families that can support our economy and schools as well. Beebe Hospital headquartered in Lewes has developed (to a great degree under the auspices of my father, Joe Hudson) a large number of clinics and satellite health care facilities spread frequently around the area.
Healthy communities focus on wellness, prevention and access to quality medical care. When health care is hard to find or expensive, people may delay treatment, often making their health problems worse. Timely access to appropriate health care benefits everyone.
Beebe Hospital is certainly the fastest growing and largest employer in the beach resort area and growing fast to support our retirement communities as more and more people retire here at earlier and earlier ages and remain more and more active in life, business and recreation. We have a wonderful school of nursing attached to the hospital as well: The Beebe Hospital School of Nursing.
Beach and Natural Environment Areas:
And this, our beach area, is of course what we are nationally famous for. The natural environment is the very foundation of community well-being. We are in late transition from a farming community to a resort and arts community. Our best and most optimum future relies on a clean environment that attracts tourists as well as high quality residents and entrepreneurs. A world-class educational presence here supports environmental protection. Our highly educated tourists and residents are another factor ensuring our increasingly strong accent on an ever improving environment. A strong economy is essential to restoration projects. Well-planned land uses and infrastructure investments can protect and enhance the environment. Environmental vitality is essential to our vision of a sustainable economy. An unmatched environment also supports year-round recreation to attract a more diverse mix of tourists and our favorite and more diverse mix of teleworkers and retirees.
The National Parks & Recreation Association recommends 7 acres of community parks and 20 acres of regional parks per 1,000 population. We are far, far, beyond that ratio. Our beach area is one of our largest park assets and boasts a variety of recreational facilities including ball fields, golf courses, and a variety of water sports and enjoyment opportunities. Keeping up with parks maintenance is a constant area concern which we do quite well.
Parks offer a place to relax, recreate, and visit with friends. A combination of developed parks and natural areas provides a mixture of activities like playing sports and walking a quiet trail. Trees, grass and other vegetation clean our air. Relocating individuals often cite parks and schools as deciding factors for moving to our region. Trails can connect neighborhoods and contribute to healthy active lives. Trails enhance mobility and access to public lands. The hundreds of miles of trails and bike paths have increased constantly in our beach region. Funding issues make development of trails challenging.
The natural environment, our beach and wetland areas as well as our farm land, is what most people list first when talking about our region's quality of life. This is an area that clearly shows what a positive impact people can have with relatively small individual contributions. Our region's water quality and air quality are wonderful and have improved tremendously over the last 50 years. Regional investment in the natural environment can ensure that we continue to enjoy the natural benefits we can not easily replace: reducing pollution, processing waste, improving water and air quality, and moderating the damage of flooding. Investments in our community's "green infrastructure" are critical to the health of our families as well as to our tourist-based economy and those investments are being made by our various governmental divisions and by our individuals. Our largest park style land owner in fact, is Delaware Wild Lands a private organization devoted to securing the quality of life for all Delawareans and doing it well.
Land Use and Zoning:
The land use choices we make are the blueprint for our community's design. Our vision of the future provides effective infrastructure that enables us to work, raise our families, and educate our children. Our land use supports our quality of life while protecting the environment. Community infrastructures attract tourists as well as high quality visitors, retirees and entrepreneurs. Our region will foster sustainable development that meets the needs of present generations without impairing future generations' ability to meet their own needs. A strong economy is essential to good land use planning and infrastructure provision. A respect for the environment helps maximize the use of land and infrastructure.
Involved neighborhoods are essential for a thriving community. Smart land use and high quality infrastructure are essential if we are to achieve our vision of a robust economy, world-class education, and a safe community. We are expanding rapidly as more and more people arrive here for short, medium or permanent residential and business life. As our Quality of Life is what most people come here to enjoy; part time or full time. ENJOY!
Copyright 2000-2005 by www.JodyHudson.com
Jody Hudson is a Realtor of 35 years professional experience and a lifetime in America and Delaware.
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