Letters: October 21, 2005

Yard sale a big hit thanks to supporters

I would like to thank the members of my club, the Merry Widows and Widowers Social Club, for all their donations and hard work to make our yard sale on Saturday, Oct. 15, such a great success. All the proceeds will go to Bless Our Children.

I would like to personally thank Bette Phillippi for receiving, sorting and marking donated items and for holding the yard sale at her home, and for all the many hours of hard work she put in to make this activity a complete success.

I would like to thank the many members who donated their time to work at the yard sale: Audrey Marston, Kay Butler, Paul Mazzei, Lucia Gillis, Don Bishop, Fran Wilson, Regina Grasso, Barbara Sundberg, Joan Sullivan, B.J. Baker and Mary Kern for supplying pizza for our lunch and a special thank-you to June Sussman for all her help.

I would like to also thank all of our members who donated items: Audrey Foley, Paul Mazzei, Cathy Kirchner, Pat Winklemayer, Don Bishop, Kay Butler, Regina Grasso, Fran Wilson, Audrey Marston, Pat Foringer, Lucia Gillis, Mary Kern, Shirley Schlee, Mildred Ludwig, Rosie Leverenz, Barbara Sundberg, Marjorie Ogden, Joan Sullivan, Bette Phillippi, Stella Grech and B.J. Baker.

Thank you to all the customers that brought our items.

B.J. Baker
President, Merry Widows and Widowers Social Club
Ocean Pines, Md.

Habitat for Humanity looks to help area

With the recent devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, concerns of people in need are at the forefront of our media, and our personal conversations, thoughts and prayers. At the same time, it is encouraging to witness the tremendous outpouring of love and donations for our neighbors on the Gulf Coast.

The reality of this tragic situation, however, is that it is already having a ripple effect on our local population — particularly those less fortunate families who have little spare cash in their monthly budgets to cope with increasing fuel, heating and many other living expenses.

As a nonprofit homebuilder, we, too, are just beginning to absorb the brunt of the massive recovery effort which will be required in the Gulf. We expect construction material prices to take a dramatic upswing as rebuilding gets fully underway. Because we operate primarily with volunteer labor, materials and land represent the bulk of our expense in building homes.

Last week we selected four new families who will partner with us to build new homes and new hope for their children. Members of our family selection committee shared these stories about the new partner families:

• A six-member family is living in a one-room temporary living arrangement in a dilapidated apartment house.

• A five-person family lives in one bedroom in a shared house with the toilet falling through the floor, the bathroom sink falling off the wall and holes in the kitchen floor. The landlord refuses to make any repairs.

• A four-member family living in a trailer with no heat, leaking plumbing, a serious rodent problem and another landlord who refuses to make needed repairs.

• A six-member family lives in a cramped two-bedroom trailer with a failing septic system. Serious crime and drug problems exist in the neighborhood, so the children can’t play outside.

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity (SCHFH) is a community-based movement working with people in need, such as these families, to build affordable homes. We depend on the good faith of hundreds of volunteers to build each home, and we depend on your generosity to help Habitat help others.

Over the past 14 years we have built 19 homes with families in need. SCHFH does not give away houses. In fact, a hallmark of the program is the fact that our process offers a “Hand Up, not a Hand Out.” We take the lead in constructing the homes with families who earn between 25 percent and 50 percent of the area’s median income — those who cannot afford a conventional mortgage.

Each family is required to contribute a significant amount of “sweat equity” in the construction of their own home, and Habitat then sells them the house through a no-profit, no-interest loan, which is paid back over a 20- to 30-year period.

Prior to Katrina, our board of directors had announced a bold plan to house 26 families in the next three years. To accomplish this goal, we will make an investment of $3.3 million. To date, we have received commitments for $1.1 million in cash and $122,000 for in-kind donations.

We still need to raise $2.1 million and many of the commitments we’ve already obtained are contingent on receiving matching local funds!

Please help us help the needy families right here in Sussex County by donating now. To contribute by credit card, please log onto our Web site at www.sussexcountyhabitat.org. For more information, please contact me at kevin@sussexcountyhabitat.org or (302) 855-1153.

Kevin Gilmore
Executive Director
Sussex County Habitat for Humanity

Maryland project could be guide for Millville

I read with a lot of interest the other day the discussion in the Coastal Point concerning the use of 14-foot alleys in the future Millville by The Sea project, and I became very concerned that this project may be approved without a thorough review of all of the problems that a project of this size can cause.

I am talking from experience. As a water resources plan reviewer for Montgomery County, Md., I review stormwater management, and soil and erosion control plans for various projects. The project I am currently spending the majority of my time on is the Clarksburg Master Planned Community.

We are currently building 12,000 to 15,000 new homes in Clarksburg, Md. The project has an impervious density of just about 40 percent, or about 40 percent of the available land is covered with houses, stores and blacktop.

Forests are being turned into grass and schools, all in the name of progress. The project is providing much-needed housing for now and the future. We are currently about 10 years into the planning and construction of Clarksburg.

What I read that bothered me most was the discussion of the 14-foot alleys in the rear of many of the homes and townhomes.

During the early design stages of Clarksburg, the developer proposed 16-foot alleys as a way to encourage the more neo-traditional look of the community. It has become a nightmare. And what is worse is the urban planners went as far as to allow 14-foot alleys in another phase of the project.

Now what is wrong with that? We have found that most trucks, garbage, fire and moving vans can not negotiate the turns. I know for a fact that the garbage trucks have to back down most of the alleys.

There is also a problem with all of the garages backing out in to the alleys, without adequate space to turn larger vehicles, such as Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy Suburban, or most full-size vans.

If you want to look at the other problems created by a project this size and it’s affects on the community, I beg you to do a search of the Washington Post, Washington Times, or the Baltimore Sun. Just type in “Clarksburg Town Center” and read the stories.

I would also suggest that the Town Planners and the Millville Volunteer Fire Company both contact the Hyattstown Volunteer Fire Company to see what problems the fire trucks have accessing various areas of the new Clarksburg Town Center.

I can tell you the minimum alley paving widths for private alleys and private streets in the county are 20 feet and 28 feet, respectively.

Richard I.Gee, CPESC, CPSWQ
Thurmont, Md., and Bethany Beach