PROVIDING FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 9, DELAWARE CODE OF 1953 ENTITLED "COUNTIES" BY AUTHORIZING LEVY COURTS TO ESTABLISH COUNTY PARK AND RECREATION COMMISSIONS AND SUBURBAN PARK COMMUNITIES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT, EQUIPPING, IMPROVING AND MAINTAINING OF PARKS, AND OTHER RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES; AND TO CARRY ON RECREATIONAL PROGRAMS; AUTHORIZING AND REGULATING THE ISSUANCE OF COUNTY BONDS TO FINANCE SUCH PROJECTS AND PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH BONDS AND THE RIGHTS OF THE HOLDERS THEREOF.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Title 9, Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by adding the following new chapter thereto;
CHAPTER 6. SUBURBAN PARKS AND RECREATION
SUBCHAPTER I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 601. Purpose
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a procedure whereby the people of various unincorporated communities may establish and maintain parks and other recreational facilities and pay for the same through county bonds the interest on and principal of such bonds to be collected by taxation of the community benefited.
§ 602. Definitions As used in this chapter--
"Clerk of the Levy Court" means the Clerk of the Peace of the County in which other suburban park community is situated;
"Commission" means the County Park and Recreation Commission;
"Legal voter" means every citizen resident in a proposed or existing suburban park community, who would be entitled at the time of holding an election hereunder to register and vote in any election district of which a proposed or existing suburban park community is a part at a general election, if such general election were to be held at the time of any election under this chapter whether or not he is at that time a registered voter.
"Levy Court" means the Levy Court of the county in which the suburban park community is situated;
"Park or recreation area" means any area of real estate located within or reasonably near the suburban park community suitable for the promotion of the health and recreation of the residents of the suburban community;
"Suburban park community" means any unincorporated community within the State (1) containing at least fifty dwellings, and (2) which, in the opinion of the Levy Court is so situated as to form a unit which is reasonably, equitably and economically capable of being improved by the addition of a park or recreation area located reasonably near such suburban park community.
§ 603. Tax exemption of parks and recreation areas
All land and property which shall be held, laid out and used for any park or recreation area or which shall be purchased or acquired for such use or purpose under the provisions of this chapter shall be forever free from State and County taxation so long as used for such purposes.
SUBCHAPTER II. COUNTY PARK AND RECREATION COMMISSIONS
§ 610. Creation; membership; terms; qualifications; vacancy
(a) The Levy Court of any County may establish a permanent County Park and Recreation Commission.
(b) The Commission shall consist of five members all of whom shall be residents of the county for a period of three years immediately preceding their appointments and only three of whom shall be affiliated with the same political party. One member shall be recommended by the State Board of Education; one in New Castle County shall be a member of the New Castle County Regional Planning Commission; and the remainder shall be members at large. All appointments shall be made by the Levy Courts of the respective counties.
(c) One member shall be appointed for a term of one year, one for two years, one for three years, one for four years, and one for five years. Thereafter the terms of each shall be five years.
(d) Vacancies occurring by other than by expiration of term shall be filled in the same manner as original appointments. This commission shall be appointed within ten days of the filing of the first petition under this chapter.
§ 611. Organization; officers
Within 10 days after the Commission has been appointed the members thereof shall meet and elect, a chairman. The chairman shall be elected by the vote of a majority of all the members and shall serve for a period of one year or until his successor is elected.
§ 612. Powers and duties
The commission shall provide, maintain, develop and promote recreational areas, facilities and programs throughout the county in which it is situate for the areas forming suburban park communities. The Commission may employ such experts, trained personnel, staff, and if and when four or more suburban park communities are established as hereinafter provided, a director of recreation, as the funds provided therefor may permit. It may also employ such supervisors and provide for such recreational promotion as the funds provided under section 654 hereof may permit. It may initiate, adopt and direct, or cause to be conducted a comprehensive program of recreation in schools and parks or other lands and buildings either publicly or privately owned and it may buy, sell, acquire or make use of all equipment necessary for such a program as the funds provided therefor may permit. It shall generally supervise, plan and maintain a program of recreation. The Commission may use parks, playgrounds or park areas or any other lands or buildings for recreational purposes.
The Commission shall use all expert advice and information available from the State, Federal, or other officials, departments and agencies, and shall furnish other agencies, including incorporated communities in the County, the information available.
§ 613. Compensation; expenses
The members of the Commission shall serve without compensation but shall be paid the necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
§ 614. Rules and regulations
Subject to the approval of the Levy Court, the Commission may adopt such rules and regulations for the administration of its park and recreation programs as it deems necessary and proper.
§ 615. Office space
The Levy Court shall furnish suitable and appropriate office space for the Commission.
SUBCHAPTER III. FORMATION OF SUBURBAN PARK COMMUNITY AND ELECTION
§ 625. Petition to Levy Court; who may petition; contents
Fifty freeholders resident in a proposed suburban park community may present a petition to the Levy Court to submit the question of organizing a suburban park community to a vote of electors residing in that community. Each such petition when presented shall have attached as a part thereof a description of the proposed suburban park community and a map drawn to scale showing the boundaries of the proposed suburban park community together with the limits of any area which may be included in the community, and a drawing showing the proposed park layout and the extent of the park or recreation area and the nature of improvements, if any, proposed for the park or recreation area.
626. Study of suburban park community plan by commission; hearings; notice; recommendations to Levy Court
(a) Promptly upon the filing of a prescribed petition, the Levy Court shall adopt a resolution requesting the Commission to make a study of the suburban park community and make its recommendations to the Levy Court concerning the area to be included in the suburban park community and the boundaries and location of such park or recreation area.
(b) The Commission shall upon receipt of a request from the Levy Court, hold at least one public hearing on a proposed suburban park community plan. Notice of such hearing shall be published at least fifteen days before the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the said community and be posted in not less than four conspicuous public places in the proposed suburban park community. The notice shall contain the time and place of hearing, and shall specify the place and times at which the proposed suburban park community plan showing the proposed park layout and the extent of the park and recreation area and the nature of the improvements to be made, may be examined. Such notice shall also contain a description of the boundaries of the proposed suburban park community. All interested persons, residents, voters, tax payers, property owners or other persons or corporations in any way affected by the granting of such petition shall be heard on any question with respect to the location of the boundaries of the suburban park community and the proposed suburban community park plan and whether all real property included in the proposed suburban park community will be benefited by the carrying out of such plan. For the purpose of any of its public hearings under this chapter, the Commission shall have power to summon witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the giving of testimony. The recommendation of the Commission shall be submitted to the Levy Court within thirty days from passage of said resolution by the Levy Court.
(c) The Commission may upon its own motion and without having received a request from the Levy Court, and without a petition having been filed, proceed to hold a public hearing as hereinabove provided and may submit to the Levy Court the recommendation of the Commission for establishment of a suburban park community and the making of improvements therein.
§ 627. Determination of status by Levy Court
Within fifteen days after receipt by the Levy Court of the recommendations of the Commission as hereinbefore provided, the Levy Court shall meet and consider the evidence and testimony given at the hearing before the Commission and the recommendation of such Commission and determine whether a proposed community is a suburban park community as provided in section 602 of this title and whether said community should be improved by the addition of a park or recreation area, and determine what shall be the boundaries of the suburban park community and that it is in the public interest to establish such suburban park community and that all real property included within its boundaries will be benefited by the construction of the proposed park layout and the establishment of the proposed park or recreation area and the making of the improvements proposed to be made therein.
§ 628. Preparation of surveys, plans, specifications and
Immediately after the determination by the Levy Court that a community is a suburban park community, the Levy Court shall notify the Commission, which, upon receipt of such information, shall proceed to have prepared surveys, plans, specifications and estimates of the cost of the park or recreation area, and improvements requested by the petitioners.
§ 629. Limitation on cost of park and improvements
If the estimated total cost submitted by the Commission shall exceed 5 per cent of the total assessed value of all real property and improvements in said suburban park community, as reflected by the books of the Board of Assessment for the County, then the Levy Court shall not be authorized to proceed under this chapter.
§ 630. Election to approve suburban park community and authorize bond issue
(c) Upon the submission by said Commission to the Levy Court of complete plans, specifications and estimates covering said park or recreation area and improvements, the Levy Court shall proceed to set a date for an election at which all legal voters resident in the community may vote, on the question whether the Levy Court should proceed to issue bonds in the manner hereinafter provided, in an amount sufficient to finance the cost for the acquisition of such park or recreation area and of the improvements contemplated. Said election shall be held no less than twenty days and no more than thirty days after the submission of said plans and specifications and estimates to the Levy Court.
(d) For the purpose of determining whether the persons offering to vote at such election possess the necessary qualifications, the officers conducting such election shall inquire of every person offering to vote, his name, whether he is a native born or naturalized citizen, his place of residence and the length of time of his residence in the proposed or existing suburban park community in which such election is being conducted, in the County in which such proposed or existing suburban park community is located and in the State.
§ 631. Notice of election
Notice of the time and place of such election shall be published at least fifteen (15) days before the date of election in a newspaper of general circulation in the proposed suburban park community and be posted at not less than four (4) conspicuous public places in the proposed suburban park community. The notice shall state that the purpose of the election is to determine whether a majority of the legal voters resident in said community is in favor of the issuance of bonds by the Levy Court to cover the total cost for the acquisition of the park or recreation area and of the improvements contemplated. The notice shall also set forth the total cost for the acquisition of the park or recreation area and a brief description of the proposed improvements and the total amount of the proposed bond issue.
§ 632. Place of holding election; times; manner of voting
The election shall be held at such place in the proposed suburban park community as the Levy Court shall designate and the polls shall be open from nine o'clock A. M. to seven-thirty o'clock P. M. of the day of election. The voting shall be by printed ballot, which shall give the voter an opportunity clearly to indicate his consent or objection to the issuance of bonds for the improvements contemplated. A majority of votes cast shall decide the matter. The Clerk of the Levy Court shall act as Judge of the Election.
§ 633. Tabulating votes; certificate of result
Promptly after the holding of the election, the Judge of Election shall tabulate the ballots and certify the results to the Levy Court under his hand and seal. The ballots shall be retained in the safekeeping of the Levy Court for one year before being destroyed.
§ 634. Formation of suburban park community by Levy Court
Upon approval by the election the Levy Court shall immediately establish a suburban park community and notify the Commission, of such community.
SUBCHAPTER IV. COUNTY BONDS; ASSESSMENTS AND COSTS
§ 650. Bonds; power of Levy Court to issue; terms
(a) The Levy Court may issue bonds of the County to finance the cost of acquiring and constructing such recreational and park facilities. Said bonds shall bear interest at a rate which shall not exceed three per centum per annum and the income therefrom shall not be subject to State taxation. Each issue of said bonds shall be payable within thirty years after date of the bonds of such issue. The reasonable expenses of issuing such bonds shall be deemed a part of the cost of acquisition and construction of such park and recreation facilities. The full faith and credit of New Castle County shall be pledged to the payment of such bonds and the interest thereon.
(b) The Levy Court shall advertise said bonds for sale in at least two issues each of two newspapers, one of which shall be of general circulation in the City of Wilmington, Delaware, and one of which shall be published in the City of New York, inviting bids for the same. The advertisements shall state the total amount of the proposed issue, the denominations of said bonds, the place of payment of said bonds and interest, the place and date of opening said bids, and the conditions under which said bonds are to be sold. Said Levy Court may give notice of the sale of said bonds in such other manner as it may decide.
() The Levy Court may require each bid for said bonds to be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of the bid, and after the bonds are awarded or sold to the successful bidder or bidders therefor, the Levy Court shall return to the unsuccessful bidder or bidders the certified check or checks submitted with the bid or bids.
(a) The Levy Court shall have the right to reject any and all bids, but in awarding the sale of said bonds, or any of them, they shall be sold to the person, persons, firm or corporation which, in the judgment of the Levy Court, offers the most advantageous terms. Said bonds shall not be offered for sale until the attorney for the Levy Court has submitted his opinion in writing that the bonds will, when duly sold, executed, delivered and paid for, be validly issued in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(b) The Levy Court shall direct and effect the preparation and printing of the bonds authorized by this chapter, fix the rate of interest, and shall prescribe the form of said bonds and the coupons for the payment of interest thereto attached. Said bonds shall state the conditions under which they are issued. The coupons and face amount thereof shall be payable at the branch of the Farmers Bank of Delaware in the County where said bonds are issued. Said bonds shall be signed by the presiding officer of the Levy Court, countersigned by the Clerk of the Peace, and sealed with the official seal of the Levy Court.
§ 651. Special sinking fund
The Levy Court shall promptly deposit all funds received from the Receiver of Taxes from the collection of the taxes levied pursuant to the provisions of section 654 of this chapter, in a special account, which shall be used for no other purpose than the retiring of the bonds and interest accruing thereon, and for maintaining and improving the parks or recreation areas of the suburban park community, and paying the necessary expenses of the suburban park community including all costs of supervision and recreational promotion.
§ 652. Cancellation of bonds
The Levy Court may adopt such procedure as it deems proper in cancelling said bonds when paid.
§ 653. Payment and retirement of bonds
Prior to the time of the retirement of the bonds, or any of them, or the time when interest shall become payable thereon, the Levy Court shall make available sufficient funds in the branch of the Farmers Bank where the principal and interest are payable, to cover the retirement of such bonds or the payment of interest thereon.
§ 654. Assessment
(a) The Levy Court shall levy a tax for each fiscal year which shall be sufficient to provide funds adequate to reimburse the County for moneys expended or to be expended in such fiscal year in retiring the bonds which have been issued and in paying interest due on the same, and in maintaining or improving the suburban park community, and in paying the necessary general expenses of such community, including all costs of supervision and recreational promotion.
(b) The rate of such tax shall be stated in terms of a certain rate on every one hundred dollars of assessed valuation, and a tax at such rate shall be levied on all the real property within the boundaries of such suburban park community listed in the Assessment List prepared by the Board of Assessment of the County for such fiscal year, and in accordance with the valuation of such property as stated in such Assessment List. No tax shall be levied upon any property which is not now subject to taxation and assessment for county or municipal purposes.
An assessment list to be known as "Suburban Park Community Assessment List" showing the tax levied shall be prepared and shall be delivered to the Receiver of Taxes of the County together with a tax collection warrant in the form prescribed by section 8005 of this title and said tax shall be collected by such Receiver of Taxes in the same manner as are other county taxes.
§ 655. Costs of parks, improvements and maintenance
The cost of acquiring, improving and maintaining of any park or recreation area under the provisions of this chapter and making the necessary improvements thereon shall be paid by the owners of the real estate in the suburban park community as hereinbefore provided.
SUBCHAPTER V. ACQUISITION, IMPROVEMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF PARK AREAS
§ 670. Acquisition of land for parks; title and ownership; gifts
(a) The Levy Court may take or acquire by condemnation in accordance with law, agreement, purchase or gift, lands located within the County outside of the corporate limits of any city or town and not already devoted to a public purpose or used by a public utility in its service of the public as may seem to the Levy Court suitable for park and recreational purposes and necessary to meet the requirements of this chapter. Title and ownership of such lands, however acquired, shall be vested in the State of Delaware for the use of the County.
(b) Gifts of land, buildings or money may be accepted for specific maintenance or establishment of park and recreational areas.
§ 671. Contracts for improvements; competitive bids
(a) The Commission shall proceed to arrange for the contracts for the required improvements. The letting of contracts for improvements shall be upon a competitive basis pursuant to public advertisement of the intention of the Levy Court to receive sealed proposals for the work on said improvements. All contracts shall be entered into and acquisitions shall be made by the Levy Court.
(b) It shall be a term of each contract that 10 per cent of all payments due shall be withheld until final certification by the Commission that the work has been satisfactorily completed, in compliance with the contract.
§ 672. Awarding of contracts; procedure
Upon the opening of the sealed proposals, the Levy Court, after consultation with the Commission, shall award said contracts, but no contract shall be awarded to any other than the lowest bidder except with the unanimous approval of the members of the Levy Court and the recommendation of the Commission, and provided the Court shall set down in its minutes the reason or reasons for granting the contract to the person other than the lowest bidder. As a condition of the letting of the contracts, the Levy Court shall require the successful bidder to enter into a bond for the faithful performance of such contract. The Levy Court shall have the power to reject all bids.
§ 673. Supervision by Commission; duty to maintain; payment procedures
(a) After the awarding of the contracts, all work performed under this chapter shall be under the direct supervision and direction of the Commission.
(b) The Commission shall be responsible for the maintenance of such parks and recreation areas and shall submit approved bills for such maintenance to the Levy Court for payment.
(c) The bills for recreation and recreational promotion including salaries and equipment shall be approved by the Corn-mission and submitted to the Levy Court for payment.
SUBCHAPTER VI. REVISION OF SUBURBAN PARK COMMUNITY
§ 680. Revision of established suburban park community; expansion and alteration of park or recreation areas; notice; additional funds
(a) Where the Levy Court has already established a suburban park community hereunder, then, the Commission may, upon its own motion, and without having received a request from the Levy Court, and without a petition having been filed, proceed to hold a public hearing on the question whether the area included in the suburban park community should be enlarged or whether the layout of any park or recreational area therein shall be expanded, improved or altered. Such public hearing shall be held and notice thereof shall be published and posted, and the Commission shall make a recommendation, in the manner prescribed by section 626 of this chapter.
() Within fifteen days after the receipt by the Levy Court of the recommendation of the Commission, as herein-before provided, the Levy Court shall meet and determine whether or not it is in the public interest to enlarge such suburban park community and what shall be its boundaries, and whether all the real property included therein will be benefited by such enlargement and by such expansion, improvement or alteration of the layout of the park or recreational area therein. Such improvements may be made and bonds may be issued to finance the cost thereof in the manner and subject to the conditions prescribed in sections 628, 629, 630, 631, 632, 633 and 650 of this chapter.
Section 2. No provision of this Act shall be construed as intending to confer upon the Levy Court or any Park Commission or Commissioner established or appointed by said Levy Court any power or authority to acquire by condemnation or otherwise, or to exercise in any manner any power or authority over any lands now owned, or which may at any future time be owned by any incorporated city or town of this State, and which lands now lay or may lay outside of the corporate limits of such town or municipality.
Approved June 8, 1953.