Pike County has nurtured big plans for the Santos Farm ever since purchasing it back in 2009. The problem always was how to create public access to the property, with funds scarce.
To that end, the county commissioners on Oct. 6 brought in the Delaware Highlands Conservancy to discuss using money from the American Rescue Plan to build a road, and unlocking other funding to develop the 88.5-acre property into a usable county park. Located in Milford Township, it has more than 4,000 feet of riverfront frontage and is one of the last undeveloped farmland tracts the county.
“It’s a beautiful property, but we don’t have any true access,” said Commissioners’ Chair Matthew Osterberg. “Once we’re able to build this road, it opens the gates to other funding to do the development.” Once the road is in place, the county envisions putting in an amphitheater and a river access with boat launch.
Steven Schwartz of the conservancy’s Land Protection Committee said the American Rescue Act doesn’t specifically mention preserving open space but does refer to public health, tourism, economic recovery, and water and stormwater infrastructure. Even though many people think of trees or parks when they think of open space, he said, it is also part of a town’s infrastructure. “People not only use and enjoy the open space to see nature, but also to walk and talk to meet friends and do all kinds of things,” he said.
He said the funding could be used for planning, design, construction, transaction costs, acquisition costs, and bridge financing. “That’s a great property,” said Schwartz, “one that needs a little bit of a boost to get to the next step.”
“It’s a beautiful property, but we don’t have any true access. Once we’re able to build this road, it opens the gates to other funding to do the development.” Commissioners Chair Matthew Osterberg