Letters to the Editor -- October 8, 2010

A playground obsession in South Bethany

A few years ago, a small group of property owners – some of whom were also officials of the SBPOA (South Bethany Property Owners Association) – decided to propose a playground/pavilion/fitness center at the site of a wooded triangle park named Richard Hall Memorial Park, which was deeded to the Town of South Bethany by the Hall heirs.

Under the auspices of the SBPOA, the playground proponents appointed the SBPOA Committee to Study the Feasibility of Creating a Playground/Park/Pavilion. After the Study Committee, the playground proponents appointed themselves to a SBPOA Park Committee, followed by a planned election of council members to infiltrate the town council.

Property owners who opposed the playground were not considered or invited to participate in any committees or study discussions.

Because the Richard Hall Memorial Park Deed contained a reversion clause which perhaps would be a problem for the development of a playground, the town council by a majority vote approved the $32,000 purchase of the reversion clause from the heirs. The town now owns the property free and clear for any use it might choose.

In order to placate the playground opposition, the Council misinformed and misstated facts.

A town council member and chairman of the only recognized and approved committee stated “… many people associate the reversion clause with the development of the park” – which is not true. Also misstating the facts, the Council made it clear that a decision to purchase the reversion clause “isn’t a decision to develop the land for recreational purposes.”

In the Sept. 10, 2010, Coastal Point, an article titled “Youngs asks that information be true” and an SBPOA Park Committee paid advertisement in the same Coastal Point issue captioned: “Let’s Get the Facts Straight,” more misinformation continued.

Council member Rob Youngs complained about playground opponent signs stating “Save the Trees, Vote No on the Survey/Referendum.” He stated opponents erroneously commented that the removal of all trees would take effect and also that the “Vote No” on the sign was misleading since the Town Council had yet to decide whether to choose a survey over a referendum. Mr. Youngs also stated that the wording would be pro or con for a development or could easily be worded to favor “the status quo”, - leaving the land – status quo – would be a most welcome dream come true.

I also take the liberty of quoting more statements from Coastal Point articles. A South Bethany property owner stated, “Leave the damn thing the way it is. It’s gorgeous.” another property owner states, “We’ve raised five children here, had 16 grandchildren live here off and on during the summers and during all of those years the children have known where the beach is, where the sand is, and they’ve never asked for a park.” And he adds, “I think we should leave it the way it is.”

What a coincidence, since I also have 6 children and 16 grandchildren who have been in South Bethany during summer months for more than 50 years; and when I discuss the possibility of having a playground across the street from our property, they look amazed and ask “Why?” They properly also consider the beach a playground.

If the town council would read Andy Ross’s arborist report, they would realize that the development of the park proposal would only destroy the environment and would involve insurmountable expense and problems.

Has the Town Council considered developing a tree condition report (TCR), followed by a tree preservation plan (TPP)? That “only 10 trees will be impacted …” statement is a farce in view of TCR and TPP requirements.

The Coastal Point would require several issues to list all the reasons to prohibit the development of the park, such as some of the following:

• Cutting down 10 trees would potentially harm many others;

• Development causes plant disease; existing trees will become unsafe;

• Filling causes flooding, kills trees and will push water onto adjacent residences;

• Chemical control for mosquitoes is costly and poisons the environment;

• The proposed playground does not comply with a section of zoning requirements which required that any playground, pavilion or other development must be 100 feet from any adjoining property line.

Apart from the technical reasons in opposition to the proposed playground, there is the callous disregard for property owners in the proximity of the proposed playground by destroying their peace and tranquility, devaluing their property, subjecting them to traffic, noise, trash, and gang or teenage night gatherings, since SBPOA park proposals state no lighting is proposed.

SBPOA’s committee to study the feasibility of a playground listed shallow reasons for their playground: i.e., a place for friends and neighbors to play cards; a place for a grandchild and grandparent to enjoy a day at the park together; a resident may enjoy a shaded place to read a book; a jogger may enjoy using the exercise equipment; property and rental value of homes may benefit; and other insignificant or untrue reasons.

A particularly valid comment against a playground is included in remarks from the arborist who wrote, “Ask your child if taking down 25 to 150 trees and potentially harming others is worth a ride on a swing.”

It’s time for the Town Council members to cease and desist from any further obsession with attempts to develop a playground/pavilion and devote their time and efforts to town-worthy issues. They have an opportunity to protect the environment and to preserve a wooded area in its natural existence.

The Coastal Point letter from Councilman Rob Young alleges opposers to the playground misinform regarding tree destruction stating “Save the Trees.” In opposing the playground, may I shout from the top of any mountain: “Save the trees.” Is anyone aware of how some civilizations valued trees? Under the laws of England, until the reign of George III, 160 actions were deemed worthy of the death penalty. Apparently, trees were considered sacred, because one could be hanged by cutting down a tree. Of course, our civilization has evolved into a reasonable society, and we would not punish someone for tree-cutting.

Let’s not prolong the agony of making a decision. The seven council members have the final power and authority to decide for or against a playground, whether or not owners want one; therefore, I see no reason to have a survey or referendum to record the wishes of all property owners. An intelligent, proper decision for the status quo at Richard Hall Memorial Park would be praiseworthy and honorable. The 2010 South Bethany Town Council would be praised by present and future generations as the council who “saved the trees.”

Oskar W. Egger
South Bethany

Readers choose Coons based on his past

The election for U.S. senator from Delaware is not about choosing between a witch and a communist, despite the rhetoric. It is a simple choice between a well-educated individual with a track record of distinguished and eminently successful service overseeing 64 percent of Delaware’s population, and an individual with decidedly undistinguished education, inadequate work experience and no expressed understanding for the needs of either Delaware or America.

Chris Coons must be the only logical choice, based on qualifications, since Christine O’Donnell has almost none. It certainly helps that Mr. Coons is a good man with a great service record and a long list of articulate goals for both Delaware and the nation.

Ed and Nancy Appel
Bethany Beach

Reader puts her support behind Schwartzkopf

At a candidates’ forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters last week, Pete Schwartzkopf’s opponent demonstrated his lack of understanding that is a fatal flaw in his qualifications to serve the 14th District. He said that certain state agencies need to be cut, to save money and reduce taxes.

When asked what specific agency budgets he would cut, he said he would start with education, because too much money is spent on administration rather than in the classroom. But he didn’t suggest shifting the money to the classroom to educate our kids so that they are qualified for anything other than low-paying service jobs.

When asked what he would do to address the problems of single moms living in poverty, he pointed out that they can’t afford to live in Eastern Sussex, so we need more public transportation so they can get here. Doesn’t he know that public transportation competes with funding for roads and requires public subsidies? Where would that money come from? The education budget?

Meanwhile Republican Councilmember George Cole talked about what incentives the county could offer to attract more business. He bragged that taxes are already so low here that offering a reduced county tax would not be an incentive at all.

Doesn’t Chris Weeks know that our taxes are already low? Why does he think so many retirees are moving here?

Pete Schwartzkopf is dedicated to his constituents’ best interests. He is the majority leader in our legislature, the only significant leadership position held by any Sussex County legislator. He is in the best position to represent this district. Go to the polls on Nov. 2. Vote for Pete.

Sandi Bisgood

UD extends Coast Day thanks to many

On Oct. 3, thousands of people converged on the University of Delaware’s Lewes campus for the 34th annual Coast Day.

I wish to thank everyone who came out to celebrate Delaware’s coastal environment. It was a delight to speak with many visitors and to learn of their great interest in our special natural resources and the work being done to conserve them for future generations. While it was a stormy day, the wind meant that the event was fully powered by green energy from the university’s wind turbine.

Thanks also to the many exhibitors, ships and vendors that make Coast Day such a special and unique event. Coast Day’s theme this year was “Making the Most of Our Coast,” and our exhibits and presentations offered numerous educational activities that helped visitors understand the many ways they can benefit from our coastal resources.

There were more than 100 fun and engaging opportunities for all of our guests, including seafood seminars, lectures, research demonstrations, exhibits, ship tours, marine critter touch tanks and a crabcake cook-off.

We recognized several people at our special Coast Day ceremony. The students in Mary Stokes’ class at Caesar Rodney High School wowed us with their winning entry in the Coast Day Video Contest. In addition, we were once again delighted by the high quality of this year’s Coast Day Fifth-Grade Essay Contest winners. Emily Cook (William Henry Middle School), Nick Outten (East Millsboro Elementary School), Matthew Lashbrook (Brandywine Springs School), Madison Baker (East Millsboro Elementary School), Cameron Hall (East Millsboro Elementary School) and Callie Freda (St. Ann School) should be proud of their fantastic efforts. The students’ teachers — Bonnie Reidy, Tanya Mock, Peter Metrinko, Karen Saylor and Marilyn Vallejo — also deserve special commendation.

Several sponsors helped to bring this celebration of the sea to Delawareans, including the Gamesa Corporation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, OSG Ship Management Inc., PNC Bank, UTEC Survey Inc., Bluewater Wind LLC, Port of Wilmington/Diamond State Port Corporation, Sierra Club, NRG Energy Inc., Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Clean Currents LLC and University of Delaware Institute for Public Administration — Water Resources Agency. We thank them for their support.

I look forward to seeing you at our next Coast Day, which will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011.

Nancy Targett
Dean, University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment
Director, Delaware Sea Grant College Program

Reader pushes Democrat ticket

This is a year of clear choices for the Nov. 2 election in Delaware. Dependable, ethical, bright and responsible candidates John Carney for U.S. Congress, Chris Coons for U.S. Senate and Pete Schwartzkopf for 14th District state representative are proven leaders who understand the complex issues which affect our state and our citizens.

I have known Chris Coons and John Carney personally for many years, and Pete Schwartzkopf more recently. All three are tried and true leaders who are not afraid to make the hard decisions necessary to pull us out of this recession. They will move us forward through support for small businesses, expansion of clean energy sources and the jobs that will put our people back to work. I urge you to go to the polls to vote for all three of these candidates on Nov. 2.

Beth Doty
Rehoboth Beach

What about the option of no tax cuts?

We hear all our politicians advocating tax cuts. The Democrats want to give a tax break to the middle class and the national debt will grow. The Republicans want to continue a tax break for the wealthy and the debt will grow. The trickle-down economy or the supply-side economics was a cruel hoax that created the largest economic gap between the poor and wealthy we see today. The Republican Tea Party is an angry group of citizens who want to tear down our federal governmental services, and I fear they will lead us into anarchy.

We have two wars costing us $2 trillion. At least 919,967 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since the U.S. and coalition attacks; 1,572,019 have been seriously injured based on lowest credible estimates; 5,554 U.S. troops have been killed; 35,302 U.S. troops are seriously injured.

How much longer will we be there? Will we be there as long as we have been in Germany and Japan, for examples? We have U.S. troops in 150+/- countries. The Defense Department is one of the major expenses to our national debt. When we were attacked on 9/11/2001, more than 3,000 lives were lost and 6,000 injured. American citizens were angry and wanted immediate revenge. Our federal government fulfilled that call for revenge.

It seems to me, if we want to keep being the world’s most active military, we must all pay even more taxes or take a far less costly solution to conflicts.

We have the largest number of U.S.A. retirees in history rushing at us and placing extreme pressure on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. I am one of them. Who is going to pay these obligations since our government has been borrowing from the Social Security fund for many years? Will it be our grandchildren or their children?

There are candidates who advocate the elimination of the very benefits we retirees have paid into our entire working lives. Who would choose to be so irresponsible to throw the millions of retires completely dependent on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to a life of enormous poverty and ill health? We need to pay taxes to keep these services to millions of our citizens who deeply invested in them?

Our national debt is growing significantly and has reached an unbelievable amount of $13 trillion and growing. It is less a percentage of our GNP than we have seen in the past. How do we solve our debt problem since the recession has ended?

We can cut our largest state and federal programs and add to unemployment, as the two are tied very closely to one another. We can all pay the present tax rate and allow present tax cuts to the wealthy end on Jan. 1, 2011. This will bring down our national debt. We paid down our debt once before and we have to do it again. This debt belongs to my generation, and we are obligated to pay our share of it.

Lloyd E. Elling
Ocean View

Food drive at Hocker’s a great success

Just a note of appreciation for the wonderful “Ole Timers Day” food drive held at Hocker’s Super Center in conjunction with Mountaire Farms. Our pantry was one of the recipients, and we were so very blessed to have been chosen to partake. We are grateful to the many shoppers who so generously donated bags of non-perishables to help stock our closet.

Those who attended the Antique Car Show or viewed the Chicken Pickin’ Contest know how much fun was had by everyone. Both Mr. Hocker and Mr. Marino of Mountaire are major supporters in service to the community.

Thank you so very much for all you do.

Dottie Campbell, Coordinator
Community Food Pantry

Wrong message can lead to tragedies

September was a bad month for suicides resulting from anti-gay harassment and bullying:

· Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman, jumped off a New Jersey bridge after his roommate allegedly secretly filmed him being intimate with a guy in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet.

· Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself in Indiana after enduring anti-gay harassment for years.

· Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in Houston, Texas, after anti-gay bullying, which his mother and stepfather characterized as constant.

· Seth Walsh, 13, after years of being bullied and accused of being gay, hanged himself in California. He died after nine days in a coma.

Anyone who harassed these kids to death bears great responsibility, but they are not alone. Schools which refuse to implement and enforce effective anti-bullying policies are also to blame for the problem, but the buck doesn’t stop there either.

Some churches and religious groups for years have opposed anti-gay bullying policies and legislation. In their view there shouldn’t even be any gay people, so what’s the problem? The problem is that their unscientific “ex-gay” rant sends the message to straight kids that gay kids are not OK. That message, as we saw in September, can be deadly.

Douglas Marshall-Steele

PCC explains its genesis, mission

The Park Conservation Committee (PCC) was formed last spring by South Bethany property owners who want their tax dollars spent on preserving our beaches and walkways, not on a playground. Members of the PCC oppose the development of the park for ecological and financial reasons.

• Ecological – Development of the park would disturb the trees and freshwater wetlands which serve as a buffer zone and a natural rain garden.

• Financial – Property owners want their taxpayer dollars spent on maintaining our beaches and walkways (including the handicapped walkway) not on a playground.

Andy Ross, chairman of the Park Conservation Committee, represents the opposition to the park on the Town Council’s Richard Hall Memorial Park Committee. Andy has brought the following facts to the Town Council’s attention regarding the opposition to developing the park with a playground:

• Tree removal: The removal of a large number of trees would adversely affect the park from an ecological standpoint. Andy Ross, a certified arborist, has done a study on the preservation of trees in the park. According to his report, the total number of trees that would need to be removed cannot be determined until a site plan is approved. However, it is possible that from 25 to 100 trees would be affected. He also reports that the costs for tree removal and tree preservation could cost the taxpayers up to $100,000.

• Wetlands: For years, residents and town officials have questioned whether or not the park area is suitable for building because it is a wetlands and has drainage problems. Some research shows that the park area is not tidal wetlands. However, this area is freshwater wetlands. As freshwater wetlands, the area is a buffer zone and rain garden, which benefits the community ecologically. The park area does have drainage problems, which would create problems and add to the cost of developing the site.

• Disruption to the community: Development of the park area with a playground will result in increased traffic and noise in the area, primarily on Evergreen and Russell roads, and will impact negatively on the residents who use this area for biking, jogging, walking their dogs, etc.

The playground would literally be in the front yard of some Russell Road residents and would have a serious effect on their quality of life and their property. These residents ask other property owners to join them in their efforts to stop the development of the park/playground.

• Financial: The Town Council is researching the total costs for developing the park and will provide property owners with this information when it is available. At this point, it appears that these costs will be over $150,000. The South Bethany Park Committee claims that most of these costs would be paid for by public and private grants. However, there is no assurance that the Town will be able to obtain grants or other funds. Many property owners do not want to take the risk of funding this project with their taxpayer dollars for years to come. Rather, they want their taxpayer dollars spent on maintaining our beaches and walkways (including the handicapped walkways), not on a playground.

Mary Suazo
Park Conservation Committee