Fort Dupont

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Call for an Investigation

This photo was obtained from WDEL News which reported on June 22nd that construction of an RV Campground had halted in the Grassdale area which was once part of Fort DuPont State Park. The developer declined to offer any specific reason for stopping construction.

The article stated that, “WDEL News was unable to determine which agency approved any permits.” Permitting is critical because a state report found that wetlands “encompass a large portion of the subject parcel.”

The 133-acre Grassdale parcel of Fort DuPont State Park was sold for private development last October for $3.6 million. The seller of this protected park land was the Fort DuPont Corporation which is a Public Private Partnership created in 2014 by legislation sponsored by Valerie Longhurst and Nicole Poore.

This sale of more than 40% of Fort DuPont State Park is an example of “the Delaware Way” at its worst. A FOIA response revealed that this sale was initiated by “an unsolicited offer”.

Although the Fort Corporation was formed as a state agency under DNREC, state laws and procedures were not followed. There was no RFP, no competitive bidding, no appraisal, and no public auction. The purchaser was an anonymous LLC based in Michigan.

The terms of sale were extremely generous with the Fort Corporation providing a four- year mortgage with no interest and no payments. Although the buyer materialized through “an unsolicited offer”, the Fort Corporation also paid a $150,000 real estate commission.

Grassdale was purchased by the state in 1994 with funds from the Delaware Land Protection Act (DLPA) which required that the land be preserved in perpetuity. This protection was documented in the original 1994 deed and in the 2016 deed which transferred  Grassdale to the Fort Corporation.

However, the Special Warrantee Deed, prepared by Fort Corporation Counsel last October, did not carry forward these protections. Instead, page 6 presents a mysterious Exhibit B “Approved Title Matters” {To Be Attached}. However, nothing is attached and this Exhibit is blank.

This Special Warrantee Deed did not transfer valid title to the Grassdale parcel with no verification of title issues predating 2016 when the property was transferred to the Corporation. Lacking the ability to provide legal title, the Corporation provided the buyer with an “Indemnification Agreement” which admitted to a Title Defect “that the seller is not able to correct”. This Agreement indemnified the buyer for $100,000 in legal fees in the event of a DLPA lawsuit. The Corporation has been liberal in the application of taxpayer funds to resolve contract issues.

This deed was preceded by the original Real Estate Purchase Agreement executed in December 2019. Another FOIA response revealed that this contract was never finalized and remains incomplete. A total of 29 exhibits and due diligence documents are either missing or incomplete lacking signatures, dates, and other information. Only one document supporting this agreement is appropriately signed and dated. This agreement was never approved by the Corporation’s Board of Directors as required.

In reaction to the Grassdale sale and other Fort Corporation issues, Valerie Longhurst and Nicole Poore sponsored HB 355 which passed at the end of the General Assembly session. This bill, which Valerie Longhurst pronounced a “clean-up bill”, made significant changes to the Board of Directors. This new board, along with a new Executive Director, need to function as a “clean-up team” to arrange for an investigation of the Grassdale sale along with legislative leaders and the Department of Justice.

Need for Multiple Investigations

Below are links to three webpages presenting information about critical issues which require investigation:

Call for Grassdale Investigation

This page presents six articles compiling the many flaws in the process leading to the Grassdale sale including statutory violations, title defects, improper contract procedures, and possible default on the mortgage.

Fort DuPont Buyers Denied Rights Under DUCIOA

Buyers at Fort DuPont have not received state required disclosure forms and have been denied the right to form an HOA. Instead, they are governed by FDRPC where they have minimal representation.  FDRPC arbitrarily bills them $500 annually for services which are not clearly specified. They also pay Delaware City taxes for municipal services.

Night Time Demolition of Historic Building

During the night of February 11, 2020, the Fort Corporation maintenance staff demolished Building 58. Neither the FDRPC Board nor the State Historic Preservation Office was notified of this action. No demolition permit was obtained as required by Delaware City. Fort Corporation authorities have claimed that the building was in “danger of immediate collapse” or that is was already “almost completely collapsed”. No documentation has been provided for either alternative. The Delaware City police department is continuing to investigate.

Environmental Violations at Fort DuPont

A letter from DNREC cites an extensive range of both type and location of environmental violations indicating that these problems were pervasive and widespread.

Fort DuPont has “Significant” Accounting Deficiencies

Fort DuPont Redevelopment and Preservation Corporation (FDRPC) is a public-private partnership that has received $18.75 million in state funds. An auditor’s report reveals that FDRPC has “significant deficiencies” in its accounting practices, causing it to misstate assets and fail to report how restricted state money is spent.

Lennar and Grassdale

There are many parallels between the way the FDRPC staff has approached these two development projects. The Grassdale project is presented at The similarities with Lennar are outlined in this article..