The Ocean View Town Council continued discussions regarding traffic on Woodland Avenue when it met earlier this week.
Last month, the Town received a petition from residents in The Reserves and other surrounding residents, asking the Town to temporarily alter the traffic flow on Woodland, between Central and West Avenues, to mitigate heavy truck traffic.
“Essentially, it’s saying they would like to have the Town to give a directive to have the construction trucks going into the rejuvenated Reserves for construction, to divert it, so they don’t go into the north end of Woodland Avenue for a lot of good reasons,” explained Mayor Walter Curran.
Curran said the Town has a phone call scheduled with the construction manager for Dec. 9 to discuss the issue.
“We are taking steps and, hopefully, in the next couple of days we’ll have an answer there. We do believe that’s the right thing to do, is to try and keep those trucks down in the lower end, if you will… We’re certainly in agreement with the principle of it.”
Briarcliffe resident Kathy Vengazo spoke to the council in support of the petition, stating Woodland is in “deplorable condition.”
“When it rains or snows, the road becomes treacherous to navigate. The addition of multiple trucks using Woodland Avenue to transport construction materials and dirt, bricks, lumber, etc., to the Reserves and Ocean View Beach communities, where hundreds of homes are planned for development, will tax this roadway and lead to its ultimate destruction or some terrible calamity that could affect my family or the family of one of my neighbors.”
Vengazo said the Town has set aside money to repair drainage and road deterioration on Woodland but has been unable to secure easements. She recommended the Town work with the neighboring communities to assure neighbors that any damage to property from easements granted would be repaired.
“I think our talking to them neighbor-to-neighbor could bring about better results than contacts by Town officials have accomplished to date,” she said. “Please address this problem now. We beg you to not wait until it is an emergency. Let’s think ahead and be proactive, for a change, instead of cleaning up problems after the fact.”
She also recommended that council stay in touch with the Sussex County Council, as permits for some homes being constructed in those communities are with the County, not with the Town.
“Can the Town talk with their respective peers at the County level to see if they will assist the Town by requiring NV Homes to pay for the repairs to Woodland Avenue as a condition of approval of their building plans?” she asked. “It seems Ocean View is getting all of the burdens of this new community but none of the benefits and it’s time to do what is right for Ocean View.”
“Your points are valid, and we’re not disputing any of that,” said Curran.
He said the Town hopes that they can work with the developer to deal with the truck traffic voluntarily.
Curran said that the projects have been in the Town’s budget; however, easements are still required.
“This has been on the agenda for a number of years,” he said. “What we did decide, as you pointed out, the self-help program within the HOAs is very good, and those communities who stepped forward and tried to help, we put them at the top of the list to get the projects done.
“Those who are unwilling to help fall to the bottom simply because we simply want to keep something going. We want to fix as much as we can. Your points are certainly valid. I thank you very much for making them, and we’ll do what we can.”
Vengazo asked what the Town would do if the meeting with the developer was not successful.
“I tend to be somewhat optimistic in my outlook,” responded Curran.
At the meeting, the council also discussed its Emergency Services grant, which annually awards grant monies to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company.
“I personally think, in this particular case, at least for this year, Millville is looking for us to make donations to pay down debt. Everything in the past, as far as I’m aware of, anyway, always went to capital improvements.”
Curran said he would be willing to agree to help pay down the debt, as long as it would pay principal only, not interest payments.
The council said they would have no problem with that for this year; however, Councilman Bill Olsen noted the Town was waiting to hear back from the MVFC regarding complaints about their siren in Ocean View.
“It’s between two people’s houses,” said Councilman Geoff Christ. “I can’t imagine…”
“I’m hearing reports from people who live in Salt Pond,” added Olsen.
Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said he has a meeting set with the company’s fire chief and will bring up the issue with him then.
The council unanimously agreed they would be willing to help with the company’s capital loans with their grant this year.
In other Town news:
• Olsen was voted in unanimously to assume the position of mayor pro-tem.
• A special election will be held on Feb. 20 to fill the vacant District 3 seat on the council, following Councilman Tom Sheeran’s passing. Those interested in running must fill out a certificate of intent to run and pay a $50 filing fee to the Town’s administrative offices no later than 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 8.
• The Town will host its annual Holiday in the Park on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. at John West Park. Santa Claus will arrive by MVFC truck, and kids can enjoy face painting and balloon animals. Punch and cookies will be served, and the St. Ann’s chorus will lead carols at 5 p.m., for the lighting of the Town tree.
• The Ocean View Police Department held a DOSE workshop in November for those dealing with addiction.
“The feedback from the participants and their families has been very positive,” said McLaughlin. “We continue to have a problem with heroin in our community.”