Letters to the Editor - November 5, 2010

Ross speaks out on S.B. playground

There was “high drama” performed at the last South Bethany Town Council workshop last week. The pro-playground-pavilion group brought “staging” for their “production” that included over 20 proponents, an orchestrated reading, including what appeared to be a rehearsed segment resulting in the accusation of a council member.

The “crescendo’ of this performance was a council member silently packing up his papers, and leaving the meeting early, but not before leaving the press a pre-prepared statement. These theatrics are no way to run a professional town and council; but it shows that they are not for democracy. This is socialist behavior.

The council and the chairman have kept the Richard Hall Memorial Park survey process fair and objective. Both sides started with a blank sheet of paper. The chairman’s actions have help moved the survey development forward quickly, and the public have benefitted by a natural vetting of the concept. The purpose of this survey was to provide the public with objective information, pros and cons, so they can decide if they want a playground/pavilion/exercise area. That had been done as of Oct. 28, 2010.

The pro-playground group has benefitted from substantially more “negotiation” then the Park Conservation Committee (www.SBPARKCC.org). The pro-playground group had become accustomed to randomly changing their position, without repercussions and without accountability.

For example, the initial use for this property was for a park. However, the definition of a “park” changed. They have removed and added items to the original plan during this process. The Park Conservation Committee’s patience has been stretched beyond reasonable, because of their changes. This “make-it-up-as–you-go” approach is frustrating, especially when the budgets estimation relies on accurate data. They were told that the project they submitted and outlined was going to be the project that would be estimated.

When it became clear what the real costs of this project would be, the pro-playground/pavilion people immediately tried to downsize the project, by reducing items and making changes. The project costs cannot be pinned down without a final and agreed-upon plan. This downsizing of municipal projects, in order for them to gain a foothold, with intent to in-fill the project later, is a well-known tactic called “scope creep.” The pro-park people’s intent was clearly with this in mind.

Chairman Fields has made numerous concessions for the pro-playground group. The entire budget was negotiated down for them. A fence is going to be left out of the budget to help keep the estimated costs down, even though this may create safety issues for the children and surrounding properties. There are other very real costs that will be required if this project is approved.

This small special-interest group wants the entire town to fund their concept. They have continually tried to change and/or hide the many realities of this project. This includes the real costs, the real size and scope, the real environmental impact, and the real perpetual maintenance. Due to their tactics and accusations from the last meeting, the next real expense the Town might have to incur is legal fees.

This pro-playground group has become emotionally involved with this project and is lashing out at their neighbors. Their shouting, rude behavior, emotional outbreaks and cursing has become commonplace during Town meetings.

It does not have to be this way; the Conservation Committee is bringing up issues, asking questions and requesting justification for this project. The people of South Bethany have a right to know the full extent of this project.

This project isn’t just about what people love or feel. For many that go to South Bethany, it is for the beach experience, not the playground, pavilion, exercise experience. Factually, this is a construction project that will cost the Town near $200,000. It will require permanent maintenance, permanent capital expenditure, permanent opportunity cost, permanent environmental damage and permanent legal costs.

There are many residents that oppose this project. There is fear of retaliation by some of them, especially for those that live or been a part of this community for a long time. If this project proceeds and is not fully thought-out, eventually everyone will pay for it. The Conservation Committee asks that residence show their support, voice their opinions and stop this errant development.

Andrew Ross, Chairman
South Bethany Park Conservation Committee

Town playground getting attention
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to South Bethany Mayor Jay Headman and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

Yes, I would love a South Bethany recreational area in the Richard Hall Memorial Park, but that is insignificant in comparison to standing up for the democratic principals that my ancestors fought for in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War (my great-grandfather’s name is on the Pennsylvania monument in Gettysburg), the World Wars…

If you remember, I requested a meeting with you because I was frustrated that the Park Committee meetings were not running, in my belief, with John Fields following through with integrity from one “assignment” to the next as chairman of the five-member committee you appointed to develop an unbiased survey to be mailed to all South Bethany property owners to pulse their views on developing a recreational area in the Richard Hall Memorial Park.

The rules seemed to change in process. Andy Ross’ “expertise” seemed to be unquestioned (the definition of an arborist and a forest specialist are not the same).

Time and time again, Andy Ross accused Sue Calloway and me of having a biased uplands survey from Duffield Associates, of Henry Poole – the Urban Forestry Coordinator in Delaware – being unqualified to make his statements concerning the Richard Hall Memorial Park land, and at Oct. 28 workshop, even questioned the opinion of Tim Manley, a civil engineer and South Bethany homeowner who had conflicting views on some of the anti-park group’s statements, as well as a different assessment of cost estimates as being presented to Town Council.

Jennifer Riggione, after not being able to reach you by phone, called John Fields to clarify the uplands/wetlands issue being reported in the papers, and just happened to fall into his statements about the previous mayor doing a good job keeping the park issue under wraps, the tenacious park people having gotten themselves into the Council to force the issue, and, hopefully, with the survey, the park issue could again be put to rest.

All of sudden, all the dots were finally connected in Councilwoman Callaway’s and my minds.

John was quoted by Patricia Titus, the news editor of the Coastal Point, at the Oct. 28 council workshop of making the following statements:

“There is no validity to either statement [referring to the uplands/wetlands issue]. I’m not willing to take one out without taking the other out.”

If he didn’t believe the Duffield survey was accurate, why in the world would he have voted for the $32,000 purchase of the park reversion clause?

“Field acknowledged that the committee had agreed to put in Callaway’s statement, but Saxton said he felt the statement needed the caveat, though Callaway said she felt it undermined the position of the pro-park group, and, she asserted, most of all the council – that no park will be developed in absence of grand funding.

“‘I realized that to put this statement would put tremendous bias on the financial statement. It says none of this would go forward unless there are grant monies, and that takes all the sting out of these costs… That adds a bias. That biases the whole thing.’”

Then, after Councilman Youngs’ heartfelt resignation, Fields had the audacity to say, “When you’re not happy with the party, you go home.”

Fortunately, the cat is out of the bag. I have no idea what the hidden agenda is in keeping the property owners from having a real, unbiased survey packet mailed to them. I honestly have no idea why Town Council rebuffs a group willing to write grants, get in-kind donations, along with monetary donations, to develop a recreational park – something I see as American as motherhood and apple pie.

But, far more important, what’s at stake is not a park, it’s the moral compass of this council—the very essence of democracy!

In my opinion, the wrong person(s) resigned from South Bethany Council.

Mayor Headman, in light of these recent revelations, you still have an opportunity to reconsider your decision, to lead us with the integrity that all the citizens of South Bethany deserve.

Patricia J. VanCleve
South Bethany

Great Pumpkin Festival another success

On behalf of the Town of Millville and the Millville Great Pumpkin Festival Committee, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the businesses, organizations and individuals that helped to make the Millville Great Pumpkin Festival an overwhelming success.

We would first like to recognize the Millville Volunteer Fire Company and their Ladies Auxiliary for allowing us to host the event on their grounds, as well as for their support in our planning and coordination efforts. It goes without saying that we could not have held this event without your cooperation.

Particular appreciation should be extended to our business sponsors, including Allied Waste Services, Aquacare Physical Therapy, Artisans Bank, Banks Wines & Spirits, Beebe Medical Center, Coastal Kid Watch Pediatrics, Coastal Printing & Graphics, Coastal Rental & Hydraulics, County Bank, Dickens Parlour Theatre, Fat Tuna Grill, First Shore Federal, Food Lion, Fox Pizza, Gulfstream Homes, Hair Snippery, House Pets, Michael McCarthy Stones, Miller’s Creek, Millville by the Sea, Patti’s Hallmark, PNC Bank, Reflections Antiques, Cellular Connection/Verizon, Wilmington Trust Co., Susan Pittard Weidman PA, Sussex County Council and Coastal Point.

Additionally, we would like to express our gratitude to the following organizations for volunteering their time and products for the event: Alpha Zeta-Beta Sigma Phi; Doric Lodge, Gemz of Arabia, Harold Marvel, Indian River School District, Indian River Show Choir, Indian River JROTC, Jill and Louie Schwartz, Kim DiLorenzo, Lenore Drewry, Lord Baltimore Lions Club, Millville U.M. Church, Millville Volunteer Group, Overtime Band, Parson’s Farm, Richard Bloch/Dickens Parlour Theatre, Russell Banks and the Southern Sussex Rotary.

Finally, we would like to thank the thousands of Millville residents and visitors for coming out to enjoy themselves and support our community. The Millville Great Pumpkin Festival will be an annual opportunity for our town to come together and celebrate all that Millville offers.

Festival Committee, Mayor and Town Council, Town Hall Staff
Town of Millville