Letters to the Editor — September 27, 2013


Bennett shares his letter on Blue Route

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Delaware Department of Transportation, copied to Gov. Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, state Sen. Gerald Hocker and state Reps. John Atkins and Ron Gray, and sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I was involved with the Millsboro-South Area Working Group for the Route 113 North/South Study for over three years and would like to offer the following comments concerning the option that was selected. I am opposed to the Blue Route (Eastern Bypass) for the following reasons:

(1) This option will have severe environmental consequences. The northern section of the “Blue Route” (Eastern Bypass) will cross several areas of important ecological significance. Not only does a major bridge have to be constructed across the Indian River, but it crosses three other virgin watersheds, of Millsboro Pond, Pepper Creek and Vines Creek. These areas are relatively pristine but would be severely degraded by the construction of a highway. The number of wetlands taken is misleading, since these watersheds will be totally disrupted to a degree far greater than the footprint of the highway.

(2) The areas that this corridor goes through are still being actively farmed and the highway would effectively separate one side from another, causing total disruption with the current agricultural practices. It would further fragment an already fragile economic situation and promote growth in areas that are not adjacent to existing towns.

(3) The Indian River School District would be negatively impacted by a highway of this magnitude — the Indian River High School is adjacent to a major proposed interchange.

(4) A long-established African-American community exists adjacent to the former Frankford Elementary School. This community and its social fabric would be bisected by the highway. There is no unified voice of opposition since most of the residents are not even aware of this planned highway.

(5) The entire Eastern Bypass would have to be constructed in its entirety before it could be used, as opposed to upgrading existing Route 113 as time and money allow. This would cause an already congested traffic problem to get worse by not preserving the existing corridor until, if and when, funds would be available to construct the bypass.

(6) The cost estimate in 2010 dollars is approximately $839 million for this bypass. This astronomical price is part of an estimate of what it would cost to construct five new bridges (the Indian River section is over twice the length of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge). In addition, two major railway overpasses will have to be constructed, which will add considerable expense. This money could be used to upgrade many miles of existing highway.

(7) The State of Delaware already has a dedicated corridor with existing Route 113, with plenty of room to expand. By choosing the Eastern Bypass, this approach will allow Route 113 to continue to be further degraded due to strip development and poor land-use planning. In time, it will be thoroughly congested and will no longer function as a viable transportation corridor. Now is the time to protect and preserve what we have, rather than letting these valuable corridors degrade.

(8) Confusing traffic analyses have been presented which question whether the Eastern Bypass will be the choice of traffic which would continue to the South. This could still leave existing Route 113 with heavy traffic congestion and no further improvements.

(9) Individual property owners in the area proposed for the new highway have not been directly notified in a timely manner that their properties may be targeted for such use, despite repeated assurances that this would happen. This lack of notification, plus limited media exposure, has caused the property owners to be unaware of these plans and kept them from participating in the public-input meetings that have been conducted.

(10) It has been stated that construction of this project is in the distant future, but landowners would have their properties and businesses placed in a corridor preservation program. Since there would be no money allocated to compensate them for the hold on their property, this is a case of gross injustice of the power of eminent domain.

(11) It has been voiced that the Blue Route (Eastern Bypass) will have excess capacity in the future, since it will be an entirely new corridor. The old expression that a “chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is a valid point in this case. The decision has been made to leave the Milford area without any improvements and the remaining road improvements are to use the existing right-of-way.

(12) The towns of Georgetown and Selbyville have favored a “modified on alignment” approach, and any projected excess capacity will be negated by the decision to use existing Route 113. This will lead to Delaware’s own “Road to Nowhere,” which is a gross misappropriation of federal and state tax dollars.

(13) The Blue Route impacts the Frankford-Dagsboro Sanitary Sewer District. This could have severe impacts on the future expansion of the district.

I was the sole representative on the working group who represented the area from the Indian River south to Selbyville that was east of Route 113. It is no surprise that this was the area targeted for the preferred route.

I am strongly opposed to the Blue Route. The best solution to existing and future traffic problems is to use the existing right of way of Route 113, which is large enough for a “modified limited-access highway.” The “modified” approach would give business access to the highway and provide an uninterrupted flow for thru traffic.

Large sections of this roadway are still viable, and the environmental, agricultural and sociological effects are already established. Going into virgin areas with massive road projects creates a host of secondary effects that have not been taken into account. The preferences of the towns and citizens of the rest of the corridor are to stay on the existing Route 113. The towns of Frankford and Dagsboro have no development west of Route 113, and their Comprehensive Plans can be changed to allow the towns to grow together.

Connections to Route 24 and Route 26 have been planned for in the On-Alignment concept which would address those traffic needs and would not change the scope of this project.

Highway projects take the path of least resistance and tend to target environmental, agricultural and rural areas because they have no voice in opposition. In this era of dwindling environmental, financial and agricultural assets, it would be prudent to protect these resources.

The Feasibility Study of July 2001 recognized the benefit of upgrading the existing Route 113 corridor in terms of cost, timely implementation and environmental impacts. This study also endorsed the concept as supporting the Livable Delaware initiative and long range transportation goals of DelDOT.

Jim Bennett
Bennett Orchards
Frankford

LHS thankful for support with race

Editor:

On Sunday, Sept. 15, with gorgeous weather, close to 200 racers, 100 race supporters, generous volunteers and a fun post-race party by Nectar at the Lewes Historic Complex, the Tenth Annual Lewes Cannonball Race 5K and Trenny Elliott Memorial Walk was a smashing success.

The Lewes Historical Society would like to thank the outstanding 2013 Cannonball Race Sponsors, including Champion Sponsor Beebe Medical Center, Henlopen Sponsor Lewes Printing, Gold Class Sponsors M&T Bank, County Bank, Quest Fitness & Kayak and Jack Lingo Realtors, Silver Class Sponsors George, Miles & Buhr LLC and the Stepping Stone, Bronze Class Sponsors Deanna’s & Piccolino, All Climate Storage, Chatelaine’s Jewelry, Cape Gazette, PNC Bank and Kings Ice Cream, and Water Sponsor Fiji Water. The support of these establishments is greatly appreciated.

Additionally, I would like to thank Seashore Striders, Trophy Sponsor Bert Long Bayside Carvings, Post-Race Party Sponsor Nectar Cafe & Juice Bar, and Post-Race Entertainers 3CNorth.

Most importantly, thank you to all the runners and walkers. We look forward to your continued participation in future LHS events.

Mike DiPaolo
Executive Director
The Lewes Historical Society

Bethany attorney clarifies issues on case

Editor:

My name is Jim Liguori and I am the town solicitor for the Town of Bethany Beach. After reading your Sept. 6, 2013, article titled “BBPD’s Haden acquitted of alleged assault on suspect,” I feel compelled to address some of the information presented and to address a mistake in your reporting.

Lt. Haden was never “acquitted” of the charge a Sussex County Grand Jury indicted him on. The case was dismissed without the jury deliberating on the merits of the indictment because the Court determined that the State prosecutor, in his case in chief, did not introduce the necessary elements of the charge of Assault 3°. The case was dismissed by the presiding judge for this legal technicality before Mr. Haden’s attorney ever had a chance to call or cross examine a witness.

Hence, to assert Lt. Haden was acquitted is incorrect.

No one is above the law. The Bethany Beach Police Department, a nationally accredited police department, when confronted by the actions of Lt. Haden, sent the evidence of those actions to the Attorney General’s office in Sussex County for them to investigate whether a crime was committed.

The Attorney General’s office presented the results of their investigation to the Grand Jury and the Grand Jury indicted Lt. Haden.

Reporting the Superior Court’s ruling as an acquittal, and using that term in your banner headline, might lead your readers to conclude the merits of the charge were heard by a jury of Lt. Haden’s peers, and that he had been found not guilty by jury of those peers. That was not the case!

In addition, you reference the Police Department failing to reply to your inquiry regarding Lt. Haden just before you went to press, however the Bethany Beach Police Department is constrained from any disclosure of information on this matter because of 29 Del Code ø10002(l)(1) and (3) (FOIA) but also 11 Del Code ø9200(c)(12). (Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights)

There is also mention of the Town not responding to inquiries by Lt. Haden since the Court’s decision. Since that decision, and on behalf of the Town of Bethany Beach, I have responded to multiple concerns presented by Lt. Haden’ s attorneys on his behalf. The Bethany Beach Police Department has complied with Lt. Haden’s attorneys wishes with regard to his status with Bethany Beach Police Department.

There is a pending Internal Affairs investigation against Lt. Haden by the Bethany Beach Police Department that has been on hold for procedural reasons pending the outcome of his criminal trial. In the very near future he will be entitled to, and will receive, a full and fair hearing on the merits of allegedly violating six Departmental Rules and Regulations that gave rise to his suspension without pay.

Lt. Haden’s Hearing Board will be comprised of his peers in the law enforcement community from other police departments throughout the state. Lt. Haden will have the opportunity to choose to have this hearing open to the public. I hope for the benefit of your readership that he chooses to do so, allowing you to accurately report the facts and circumstances of Lt. Haden’s conduct that not only led to his being indicted but also allegedly violating six of Bethany Beach Police Department’s Rule and Regulations.

James E. Liguori
Town Solicitor
Town of Bethany Beach

Editor’s note: Our Sept. 6 story on Lt. Haden’s case termed the outcome of the case as acquittal under information provided by Haden and his attorney, who expressly stated to our reporter that it was an acquittal and not solely the dropping of charges. Our numerous attempts to obtain any sort of comment from the Bethany Beach Police Department both for our prior story on the indictment and for the Sept. 6 story went unanswered.