Letters to the Editor — January 15, 2016


Proposed ambulance fee causes concern

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran regarding the proposed ambulance subscription fee from the Millville Volunteer Fire Company and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I write to express my opposition to the proposed mandatory ambulance subscription fee. I am a non-resident owner of a home in Foxwoods. Due to work commitments, I am unable to attend the town council meeting on Jan. 12, 2016. I wish to speak during the Citizen’s Privilege. Please allow this letter to serve as my statement.

I read an article published in the Coastal Point on Dec. 31, 2015, which quoted Millville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Doug Scott discussing his proposal that local towns charge every property owner a mandatory ambulance subscription fee. I have serious concerns with Chief Scott’s plan and I will address his points one-by-one.

(1) The fee is needed to “buffer” individual residents from pricey ambulance costs. Ambulance services are billed to the patient’s insurance company and/or Medicare. Like any other medical service, the patient is responsible for costs, if any, not covered by insurance.

Chief Scott’s plan assumes every property owner needs buffering, but those who feel they need the extra protection already voluntarily pay a subscription fee. Chief Scott estimated that 40 percent of households in the fire district currently use the voluntary subscription. Allow the rest of us property owners to manage our own health care; don’t force us to pay into an insurance fund we do not need or want.

(2) “If we could get 100 percent return … we would expand who was covered, and we would do it at a lower rate than what we normally charge.” Chief Scott is certainly not proposing to charge the patient’s insurance company less. So, what happens to all of that force-collected money if the patient’s insurance covers the entire ambulance fee? According to Chief Scott’s proposal, the ambulance subscription fee “would be used however MVFC wants.”

(3) “It’s an insurance policy … on the local level.”

Millville Volunteer Fire Company is not an insurance company and should not be run as one. Chief Scott and his teams of professionals know how to fight fires and provide emergency medical services. But they are not qualified to operate as an insurance company.

Insurance companies are heavily regulated by the State, as well they should be. Insurance companies are required to provide regular financial reports and audited financial statements, and to meet minimum net worth requirements. Their assets, liabilities and financial practices are scrutinized by regulators. No one should be comfortable with MVFC operating as an essentially unregulated insurance company with the discretion to use collected funds “however MVFC wants.”

Chief Scott concluded: “Ultimately, the most effective method of funding would be for Sussex County to collect and distribute fire and ambulance fees countywide, similar to school taxes. But that discussion is for another day.” I respectfully disagree. Now is exactly the time to have that discussion, not whether to force another tax on Ocean View property owners.

Mayor Curran, you gave an interview to the Coastal Point which was published on Feb. 28, 2014, shortly before you took your seat as our mayor. In that interview, you told reporter Maria Counts that the Town of Ocean View “is fiscally conservative, which is my nature. I don't like to spend other people's money.” I applaud your fiscally conservative nature.

Let’s not spend other people’s money on a forced insurance plan.

Joseph A. Capone
Ocean View

Missing cats have people concerned

Editor:

Who took our cats out of the park? The cats on Juniper Street are gone. Cats are missing on other streets, too. Between December and the first week of January. We called all the agencies. They did not pick our cats up. [Cats Around Town] did not pick them up. Even SPCA — no one came out.

Some of them have owners. I have a Maine Coon, small longhair gray with a tiny face, female. I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks old. I am very heartbroken. I want her back.

It was told to us a gray pickup truck with cages in the back of the truck was picking up cats. So everyone look out for this. Next, they will pick up our dogs. They have no right to do this. So watch who comes in our park.

Roseanne Ridge
Shady Dell Trailer Park

Lions Clubs make real difference globally

Editor:

Thank you, Delaware. You are helping a lot of people in the Dominican Republic see better. We are part of an eye mission team based at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Savannah, Ga., that will spend a week dispensing eye health care to the people of San Pedro de Macoris.

But you are part of the larger team that started in Delaware with many hands in many places. Lions Clubs all over the state collected boxes filled with glasses you’ve donated. That included a box at our summer church, St. Martha’s in Bethany Beach. The glasses were then taken to Delaware corrections institutions, where they were cleaned and their prescriptions determined — a huge undertaking for the Delaware Lions Sight Team that provided our project with over 4,000 pairs of glasses.

Our Savannah team members will carry the glasses to an Episcopal health clinic in San Pedro de Macoris, where we will determine the visual needs of around a thousand townspeople. Then, thanks to the people of Delaware, we will fit them with new glasses. These people will have improved vision. Some will actually see clearly for the first time in their lives. Our team will see this exciting reaction firsthand. But you and the old glasses you donated have made it possible.

Haydee and Jim Toedtman
Bethany Beach

Reader says ‘It just doesn’t fit’

Editor:

I am the principle in the 324 Garfield Parkway LLC, which owns the property at 324 Garfield Parkway Ext., Bethany Beach, Del. I am concerned, not only with the possible placement of the Dinker cottage on the unopened portion of Maryland Avenue, but also with the resulting costs of accepting the “donation” of the cottage.

If this were a typical real estate transaction, the property owner(s) would be the seller and the Town would be the buyer. In this scenario, the buyer (Town) would, in all likelihood, have a building inspection performed by a licensed building inspector prior to settlement. After which, the buyer (Town) would receive a report outlining any problems that were found with the building during the inspection and could either request the seller (property owner(s)) to repair the problems, lower the selling price, or walk away from the deal.

I would think, at a minimum, the town council would want to have fairly reliable estimates from licensed contractors of the potential costs prior to accepting the “donation.”

Further, I am having a problem understanding how the town council can be asked to vote to accept the “donation” prior to a partition hearing before the planning commission scheduled for the day after the town council is being asked to vote on accepting the “donation.”

I understand the partition of the land is one of the conditions the property owners are requesting of the Town in order to make the “donation.” What happens if the town council votes to accept the “donation,” but the planning commission, for whatever reason(s), votes not to partition the land?

I realize the Dinker cottage has historical significance to Bethany Beach, and making it a town museum may be the proper utilization of the building, but placing it on the unopened portion of Maryland Avenue, over 200 feet from the sidewalk and roadway of Garfield Parkway, with 12 parking spaces in front and three to four spaces in the rear, makes little sense.

Why parking spaces? Most people in Bethany either bike or walk. Given the current traffic congestion at the corners of Garfield Parkway and Kent Avenue, why would you want to add more cars to this already chaotic situation?

This is a direct quote from the town manager letters of Dec. 14, 2015, and Jan. 5, 2016, to various concerned property owners: “One location that might come to mind for some citizens is the Church/Neff parcel located at Route 1 and 26. However, for over a decade the Council has carefully considered the best use of that property. The Council’s deliberations have been the subject of many public meetings and a Town-wide survey of all property owners.

“The Council, after listening to public input, has been consistent for several years in their desire to keep the property open, natural, devoid of formal structure, and as aesthetically pleasing as practical. This has been voted on in more than one public meeting and in fact the Council adopted a formal Resolution stating that in 2012.”

I would remind the council that when the many public meetings and town-wide surveys were held or taken on the best use of Church/Neff property the possibility of the Town owning a “founder’s” cottage did not exist and that in the November 2015 Bethany Beach Landowner’s Association newsletter the following appeared:

“Progress on Development of Town Park — At its meeting on August 21, the Council voted to commission the Oasis Design Group (ODG) to develop a “master plan” for design of the Town Park. (The firm created the plans for the Riverwalk in Wilmington and James Farm as well as some planning for the park at the Indian River Bridge, among other projects.) The Council determination included an assurance that the public would be invited to further participate in the development process.

“At the public workshop on October 15, ODG presented two initial alternative concepts for possible layout, pathways and areas for park features. Both concepts were based, in part, on the results of the survey the Town conducted to determine property owner opinions regarding development of the park and possible features.

‘The purpose of the presentation was to solicit Council and public input for further preliminary concept development. The public can view the ODG presentation on the Town’s website at: www .townofbethanybech.com. In the process established by the Council for this project, there will be further opportunities for public input.”

Given this new information, and since the council indicated it will afford the public further opportunities for their input, I believe the town council should at least [consider] tabling this discussion until more information is available and another property owner survey is conducted.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Joseph Tropea
Bethany Beach