New Hanover unlikely to buy Hickory Park restaurant property

NEW HANOVER — The possibility of the township buying the two-acre parcel where the iconic Hickory Park restaurant sits seems less likely.

Following a review of an environmental report indicating there is a risk of contaminated soil beneath the site, the council is “not really worth pursuing”, according to Township Manager Jamie Gwynn.

The entrance to the township’s Hickory Park is located on the two acres that also house the restaurant site. (Evan Brandt – Media News Group)

The property is important because the entrance to the township’s Hickory Park is located on these two acres and if the township does not own this property, it may eventually have to build a new one, rather than continuing to use the existing one.

The township took possession of the 21-acre park in 2009, purchasing the former campground property for $800,000, with the Montgomery County Green Space Fund paying 80% of the purchase.

Long used and loved by dedicated campers, the site had come under scrutiny due to a failing septic system used by residents who seemed to live in the trailers there year-round.

The failing system had been cited multiple times by the Montgomery County Health Department, and during heavy rains officials had documented numerous instances of raw sewage flowing into Swamp Creek, home to a heron colony. blue prized by the canton and its inhabitants.

the Hickory Park restaurant property is located at the intersection of Routes 663 and 73. (Evan Brandt – MediaNews Group

Since the purchase, the township has increased the hours of recreational activities at the park and maintained and operated the public swimming pool there every summer.

Gwynn said the township had been in talks with the property owner at least twice before, but they were unsuccessful. He said he believed the restaurant closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not reopened.

“I also believe the floods of Ida tore it apart,” Gwynn said.

When the owner approached the township in November about purchasing the property for $100,000, the township began a 90-day due diligence period and the second “phase two” environmental assessment indicated that it There were two underground fuel storage tanks on the property that were closed in 1989, Gwynn said.

While there’s currently no indication the tanks are leaking, they are a long-term liability and their removal could also cause a problem, Gwyn said. It’s a responsibility supervisors don’t want to take on, he said.

There have been no recent reports of the tanks leaking, Gwynn said.

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