Letters to the Editor -- August 31, 2012

Barefoot Gardeners thankful for support

The Barefoot Gardeners Club of the Fenwick Island Communities had their first Small Standard Flower Show on Aug. 17. Its huge success was mainly due to the garden club members devoting many volunteer hours to be sure that every part of the show was perfect.

We certainly are very appreciative of all the help from the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs, as they gave us valuable guidance all along the way and we could not have done all this without their help.

Many businesses in the community also helped in making our first show a success. The Coastal Point was very generous in helping with advertising and developing our program. Bayville Wine and Spirits on Route 54 gave us display flip-flops. Bethany Beach Water Media Society offered their backdrops to use behind our designs. Natural Creations gave us ornamental grasses to use at the entrance. Fenwick Island Town Hall gave us their support with advertising, posting signage and allowing additional parking.

But most of all, Saint Matthews-By-the Sea United Methodist Church provided its facilities and full cooperation during the planning, staging and cleanup process. And, of course, the Club is especially appreciative of all those guests who came out on a beautiful Friday afternoon to enjoy our flower show. I do hope that everyone enjoyed the show as much as we did presenting it.

Thank you all!
Karen Dudley, President
Barefoot Gardeners

Reader suggests anti-Obama movie

To those Obama fans and supporters, if you have not seen the movie, “2016,” treat yourself. It is playing at local theaters. Learn the facts about the president, some of his background and more. Your eyes will be opened as to who this fraud actually is and why he must go in November. Should you continue to be in his corner, I am convinced this country if full of fools!

Jack Rine
Ocean View

Bethany residents speak their minds
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Bethany Beach Mayor Tony McClenny and Bethany Beach Town Council members, and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

As homeowners of Bethany, some for over 40 years, we were distraught by the destruction of well over 75 percent of the native trees and shrubs on the roughly 6 acres of land formerly known as the Church/Neff property.

We are equally disturbed by the incomplete and misleading responses from the Town Hall regarding plans for the future park. Over many years and through many council leaderships, we were repeatedly assured that the natural, park-like setting would be retained and that the trees would not be “bulldozed down.” They were.

That in itself justifies our skepticism of assurances from the Town of being receptive to public input before proceeding with “incremental steps” to tailor the park to a concept at odds with past assurances concerning its characteristics. This skepticism has not been mitigated by any reply to requests for specific information regarding former actions and existing plans. Quite the contrary.

We have been told repeatedly that there are no plans for a future park.

Told this, despite the approval on April 16, 2008, of up to $7,000 for a conceptual design for a park on the former Church/Neff property. Told this, despite work contracted to Landscape Architectural Services LLC for a “Revised Preliminary Master Plan” for that same property, developed as early as March 2009. Told this, despite excerpts from the 2010 Town of Bethany Beach Comprehensive Plan referring to a “linear park” along “extended Maryland Avenue.” On a zoning map of the Town of Bethany Beach, such an area is shown as a diagonal “road” or “path” running through the Church/Neff property from Central Avenue to Garfield Parkway. These are just the nonexistent plans we are aware of through our own hard research.

A lot of money has been spent for preliminary master plans and actual work performed, with no evidence of competitive bids, and with absolutely none of the concepts presented to landowners for comment before such drastic action was taken in June this year, and with repeated denials that any plans exist.

We have been told the property needed to be cleared, otherwise we would not be able to visualize concepts for a future park. Nonsense. Any one of us could have purchased a readily available 3D landscaping software product for just $79.95 and provided the Town with literally hundreds of design concepts, complete with walk-through and video presentations, using a Google Earth photo of the property before its decimation.

If the Town had communicated with the public, the Town could have saved the public a lot of money, and a lot of trees. But the Town seems averse to public input.

We are told the “town arborist” recommended this vast removal of tress on the grounds they were deemed unhealthy, hazardous or of “unnatural morphology.” Some of us are partial to trees of unusual shapes, even the multi-trunked varieties and those with calipers under 10 inches. We can produce dozens of professional arboriculturists and landscape horticulturalists who would argue in favor of preserving many of those trees.

The 2010 Town of Bethany Beach Comprehensive Plan pays much lip service to the Town’s devotion to preserving trees and open space, but we have had no answer to questions about the purported tree board or department required by the U.S. Forest Service’s Tree Service USA Program, in which Bethany claims to participate.

This same plan acknowledges that the Bethany Beach Municipal Code provides minimal protection for public trees, shrubs and plants; therefore, protection was secured by Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. We question whether the Delaware Forest Service was given advance notice of the planned clearing of that property.

Let us be clear: we are not opposed to a park. We are opposed to the destruction of native landscaping in favor of a concept that the public has not had the opportunity to learn of or debate and which is at odds with Town assurances that its natural park setting would be retained.

We want to see and review any renderings, prints, analyses and concepts produced as a result of all monies spent for all conceptual designs and “preliminary master plans” for this park. We want to know the exact terms of the $28,000 contract to clear the property.

We want to know what completive bids were solicited for the awarding of conceptual design concepts and scope of tree removal. We want to know if any study, environmental or otherwise, was made on the degree to which the natural habitat could have been maintained and incorporated with plans for development of the park.

All this is apart from very serious considerations, such as the impact on stormwater drainage and the preservation of forested and wetland areas. For example, there is a natural spring on the property that would be a highly desirable park feature, but the current “nonexistent” plan seems to call for filling in the entire property.

There is also much talk about “specimen” trees. We have enough specimen trees. We want more emphasis placed on low-maintenance, native plants and trees for that parkland, with a particular view toward ones that will rapidly restore the shade that was lost by the recent large-scale destruction.

Additional costs to the taxpayers for the maintenance of this park impacts us all. Transparency in the decision-making regarding past actions has been lacking. We want much greater transparency and input to future decision making on all matters of this scope.

Every consideration should be given to homeowners in the immediate area. In years past, the Town had a policy of notifying homeowners by mail of any large-scale changes affecting their neighborhood. This policy was instituted precisely because landowners who are not year-round residents are unable to see local postings or read local advertisements. Even in this digital age, many have family and professional obligations that prevent them from watching the live Internet town meetings and proceedings.

Finally, we want no more incremental steps taken without a master plan that has full input of landowners and voters of Bethany Beach. We want a moratorium on any current initiatives that advance existing conceptual designs and at least one “preliminary master plan” we have uncovered.

The Town has incurred a huge trust deficit with this latest and tragically irreversible destruction of what could have been, and was promised as, a park that preserved native habitat.

Whether through blatant disregard for past reassurances on the use of and character of this property, gross mismanagement, lack of oversight by the Town Council or a fervent desire to make progress, much damage has been done.

We copy this letter to local news outlets because we hope to enlighten the Bethany community at large to the extent to which we feel we have been misinformed. If this can happen on a project of such major impact on the town, a 6-acre parcel of land, then what can we believe of other major proposals?

Martha P. Hill, Nancy and Wilbur Dameron, Dr. Lawrence J. Cavaiola and Maureen Cavaiola, Page and Rolfe Kennard, John and Fran Sloan, Mary M. Scott, Quang H. Nguyen and Lynn Nguyen, Andy and Vicky Beck, Randy and Pam Miller, John and Joan Murray

Bethany Beach

SDCS offers education on organization

As the summer winds down, I’m thinking that the “year-round” folks might be looking for something to do in the fall and winter. It gets rather quiet around here, which is the whole point, after all. But, there are times when it would be nice to have something fun and worthwhile to work on…

If you are a singer — say, in a local church choir — and would like to try some more challenging music, joining the local Choral Society might be just the thing. We meet once a week, in Georgetown, on Tuesday nights. There are carpools running from all over Sussex County to the rehearsal (7 to 9 p.m.).

The music is light-classical and popular. At Christmas time, there are always a few carols. There are no auditions. Anyone can come to the first rehearsal and see what it’s like, check out the music and decide if they can handle it. If they want to try, we let them. Some drop out if they feel the music is too hard or they don’t have the time to practice. There is no penalty. We refund the dues ($40). Most stay on and enjoy the fellowship and the harmony.

This December, The Southern Delaware Choral Society (SDCS) will perform “A Holiday Voyage” featuring Christmas music from around the world and narrated by local artist Roo Brown. The program will start with South America, shift to Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia and end finally with a medley of music from North America. It is expected to delight the audience and challenge the singers. Singers are needed now in all voice parts.

The first rehearsal is Sept. 4, Georgetown Presbyterian Church, 7 p.m. Interested in joining the chorus? Call me at (302) 519-8856 or visit the Web site at southerndelawarechoralsociety.org.

Clement Edgar, President
Southern Delaware Choral Society

Sorority thankful for support with event

Beta Sigma Phi, chapter Xi Upsilon, would like to extend a great big thank-you to the public and all the local businesses for all the support they gave to our chapter’s fundraiser.

Xi Upsilon holds an annual cornhole tournament every year, in the spring. This year’s tournament raised $4,921! Money raised from the tournament will be used to support our community’s needs and also to provide scholarships to Indian River High School graduates, in the name of Russell White, a graduate of Indian River High School and a fallen Marine of the Afghanistan War.

Xi Upsilon would like to especially thank the following businesses for their generous donations: Ayers Creek Kayak Adventures, Amy Smith (Mary Kay Independent Consultant), All About U Salon & Spa, Bethany Bike Shop, Big Peaches, Bethany Blooms Landscaping, Banks Liquors, Blue Scoop Ice Cream, Bling Salon, Bay Club, Cottage Café, Creative Wealth Management, Coastal Point, Cattails Gift Shop, Coastal Kid Watch Pediatrics (Dr. Nadig), Charlie K’s BBQ, David Carroll, Fisher’s Popcorn, Float-ors, Gregg and Tricia White, Hoban Insurance, Harris Teeter, Indian River Water Sports Rentals, In & Out Tires & Auto Care, Jake’s Wayback Burgers, Kool Bean Bistro, Lord’s Landscaping, Mary Ann’s Interiors, Miranda & Heart, Richards Restoration, Sea Level, Super Giant, Salon on Central, Slainte Pub & Restaurant, Salt Pond, Tony’s Pizza, Trick Trucks, Treasure Island Fashions, Tequila Mockingbird, V2 Nails & Spa, Vinny Colombo and Wild About Birds.

Beta Sigma Phi
Xi Upsilon chapter

Bodenweiser gets reader’s support

A rematch is coming to Sussex County, but it’s not a prizefight, although the similarities can be made. Two years ago, Eric Bodenwiser, the challenger, took on the heavyweight title holder, Joe Booth, for the 19th Senatorial District. When the final scorecard was tallied, only 120 votes separated the contenders, out of 4,194 total votes cast.

Come Sept. 11, 2012, the two men will re-enter the political ring commonly referred to as a primary and give the voters and chance to pick a man who will best represent their interests and values in Dover.

But this time it’s different; only 10 days after the 2010 primary, stories started to appear about candidate Joe Booth in the local media. Booth, who ran his campaign on a platform of a local businessman with integrity and honesty had accepted a newly created job at Sussex Tech High School in Georgetown.

What made more than a few people upset and question the timing of this announcement was the fact that, before the primary, candidate Booth was campaigning throughout the 19th District, telling all who would listen that he was a local businessman who would use his experience to work on the behalf of the people.

What he failed to tell the voters of his district was that, before the primary, Joe Booth applied for, interviewed for and was already in the No. 1 position for this job at Sussex Tech, which was never advertised to the general public.

As far as his dry-cleaning business and Laundromat, shortly after winning the election, Joe Booth shut down his dry-cleaning operation. I guess business must have suddenly dropped over the last few months that he didn’t see it coming. Thankfully, with this newly created job with a total compensation package worth almost $80,000, along with his Senate job paying another $53,000, things were looking up.

For those who are questioning why I am focusing so much attention on this past election and job situation, remember: “Integrity, Honesty, Businessman.” This new job did not even exist before it was given to Joe Booth. This same job does not exist at any of the other vo-tech schools in the entire state and, as stated previously, this state job was not advertised to the general public.

You may ask: How did Mr. Booth find out about this lucrative position that only two other individuals even applied for? Sussex Tech had made the listing on a Web site available only to staff members, so who was Joe Booth’s inside connection that gave him access not obtainable to you or me? It was Joe’s wife, who was hired by Sussex Tech just months earlier. Was it luck, coincidence or something else? You be the judge, but now there were three State paychecks coming into the Booth account.

Some will argue that Sussex Tech limited the job posting because they wanted to fill the position from within its own pool of personnel, but obviously that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, what many people suspect happened: the superintendent wanted an advocate in Dover, and who better than a state senator — a state senator who could protect his turf and effectively lobby against the recommendations of the state auditor and bills like SB5, which would have arguably saved taxpayers money?

I know Joe Booth will probably cry “foul ball” over me bringing up this issue, but he’s a big boy and can take it. It’s the voters who are tired of being told one thing then seeing their elected official do another. It is the voters who are tired of politicians putting their self-interest over those they represent, hoping they would forget by the next election. This election, the choice is clear. Now you know the facts before you vote. Please vote Sept. 11, 2012.

Spyro Stamat

Reader offers insight into Garfield’s past

Many of your readers know that Bethany’s Garfield Parkway was named for assassinated President James A. Garfield, a prominent member of the religious denomination shared by many of the town’s founders. But they may not be as familiar with the tragic details of this great man’s unnecessary death and the role a great American inventor played, nor how the president’s love for the seashore factored in to this heart-rending episode in American history.

The whole story is compellingly laid out in Candace Millard’s “Destiny of the Republic,” available at the local library and in bookstores. Those interested in the progression of medical science will also find much to appreciate here.

Al Weinberg
Bethany Beach

Reader responds to previous Point letter

When it comes to understanding the meaning of credibility in our current political environment, I prefer to rely on accepted references such as Webster’s Dictionary. When I checked this source, I found the following definition for credibility: “…the quality or power for inspiring belief and the capacity of belief.”

Now, Delaware is known for many things: being the first state, beautiful beaches, healthy business environment, and the civility and responsibility of our citizens. When the national political scene becomes petty, acrimonious or insane, we have always been able to rely on the sanity of our fellow Delawareans.

That is why it angers and embarrasses me to see the sort of “campaign” that Mr. Alex Pires is running. I thought we had enough of this foolishness with Christine O’Donnell, but it appears that the circus is back in town. It reappeared with a recent letter to the editor from Mr. Walt Berwick.

Mr. Berwick’s impeccable credibility is questionable when he makes unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations concerning Sen. Carper’s finances and the condition of his health. It does not seem to me that Mr. Berwick’s comments provide much credibility for Mr. Pires’ character, either.

I have known Sen. Carper to be an honorable and distinguished servant to the people of Delaware. I am proud to say that in today’s political climate Sen. Carper is one of the voices of reason, moderation and compromise working for the good of Delaware and the nation.

For those who would attempt to discredit and tear down Sen. Carper, I suggest get your facts straight and back them up. Then let’s see who the credible candidate in this election is.

Eric E. West