Ocean View council continues trash talk

Although William Olsen doesn’t yet have the votes needed for Town-managed trash collection, he’s moving forward in an attempt to simplify waste hauling in Ocean View.

At the Nov. 10 Town Council meeting, Olsen modeled his current proposal on the Town of Bridgeville’s process of the low bidder providing waste collection.

Previously, the Ocean View Town Council had concerns about Town Hall doing most of the work. But Olsen suggested the Town would act as an agent to procure fixed pricing for residents, but the contractor would do the invoicing itself on an individual basis.

Trash would be collected weekly, with recycling and yard waste on a biweekly basis. Residents could suspend waste collection for up to six months, if they’re not at home.

Also, joining the Town service wouldn’t be mandatory.

“I was the naysayer the last couple of go-arounds,” said Mayor Walter Curran, who opposes governments making anything mandatory, although he understands the high truck volume can beat up town roads.

Although the new proposal addressed some major concerns, “I truly don’t know: if you make it nonobligatory, … where is the leverage?”

How does that prevent individuals from hiring yet another company to continue driving through town?

Olsen proposed exceptions for homeowner associations, businesses and state-controlled properties to contract with their own waste haulers.

“From my perspective I don’t see it being a very effective tool unless it’s mandatory, which I’m against,” Curran said.

Resident Elaine Hubert saw this exact problem as a microcosm in Country Village. She said seven trucks drove the development each week, starting early in the morning and using one entrance.

When she asked her company for a better rate, the company suggested she gather more residents to negotiate a better price. She negotiated an agreement, not a contract. Her neighbors are billed individually ($68.91 per quarter), although she serves as a point person for any questions or concerns.

Now the entire community has a few waste haulers, plus yard waste collection from April to November. Some people still haul their own trash to the dump.

“Tell them what we want, and you gotta be specific,” Hubert advised Town Council. “Basically it’s your power that we need to get it started.”

Council considered gauging broader public opinion with a springtime referendum, but Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader warned against it. Only registered voters could participate, although non-resident property owners would be affected.

“You make big bucks to make big decisions,” Schrader quipped. “If you have to rely upon referendum, then you can’t make the decision.”

Discussion and more research will continue at the November Town Council meeting.

In other Ocean View news:

• Council heard a presentation by Bill Gay on the Community Alliance To Create Sussex County Homes for Wounded Warrior Families.

Similar to Habitat for Humanity, the Alliance helps disabled veterans and their families find affordable homes. The nonprofit will partner with other groups, like Habitat, Milford Housing Development Corporation and others. Meanwhile, mentors help ensure they’re socially and financially strong enough to move into the community, and pay for their own (discounted) mortgage.

“It became more and more obvious that there are disabled wounded warrior families who needed a great deal of help getting affordable housing,” said Gay, who worked with Operation SEAS the Day.

The first home is being completed now, and an Army Ranger will be moving in at Christmas. The group hopes to build or provide at least two homes per year in southeast Sussex County. Donations of money, services, land or time to renovate or build an affordable home for a family to own.

Personally, Curran totally supports the effort and was impressed by the volunteers’ dedication.

The group is not officially linked to the Wounded Warrior Project, it operates in the same spirit of aiding injured veterans.

• Police Chief Ken McLaughlin earned one of the first Courage Awards from atTAcK addiction, a Delaware group that provides education on addiction and supports those in recovery. This grassroots organization was founded by parents who lost their children to addiction.

• Ocean View Police Department had successful Halloween events — a Special Olympics dance and the Cops & Goblins festival. They’ll also partner with Special Olympics Delaware for special one-on-one tours in “Champions on Tour of the Thin Blue Line” program.

• With help from the drug-sniffing dog, OVPD seized “a good deal of cocaine, heroin and marijuana” in drug raids on the morning of Nov. 10, McLaughlin reported.

• Resident Mike O’Dowell expressed his frustration about the town sirens corresponding to Millville Volunteer Fire Company, which he’s heard ring for six minutes straight.

Many towns do not use these sirens, “and if they do, it’s for tornadoes or other emergencies,” O’Dowell said. “The annoyance is not worth the expense that it is. It’s outdated.”

The emergency vehicles have sirens, so drivers know when to pull over.

“Did you ask why they use it?” asked Councilmember Carol Bodine.

“Yes,” O’Dowell said, adding that a MVFC member said she could hear the siren from her tractor, even if she doesn’t have her cell phone. O’Dowell countered that someone on a tractor wouldn’t arrive at the emergency on time, but that’s why there are other volunteers.

“It seems like everyone here says, ‘that’s the way it is.’” O’Dowell said.

The siren could inhibit business because his neighbor rents a house to a family that won’t return because of the sirens, O’Dowell alleged.

“We don’t have the power to tell them not to do it,” Curran said, but the topic could be discussed again.

• With only one company submitting a complete bid, Town Council unanimously awarded (with Thomas Sheeran absent) the FY2015 Avon Park Drainage Project to Common Sense Solutions, LLC ($45,420). Although the project was estimated at $38,600, the town budgeted $60,000 for this project.

• Olsen withdrew a proposed proclamation in which Town Council would oppose seismic testing for/and offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic Ocean off the Delaware coast.

However, Councilmember Geoffrey Christ noted that Ocean City, Lewes and Dewey have passed similar resolutions, so he plans to put it on next month’s meeting agenda.

• Executive session was canceled.

• Resident Eugenia Athan emailed a request for Town Council to consider lowering the Central Avenue speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph, especially as homes and future sidewalks will be so close to the road. Administrative Official Charles McMullen said he can pursue the topic with DelDOT, which was somewhat receptive to the idea.

• After a silent public hearing, Town Council approved the second reading of Chapter 187, Article III, §187-12 and §187-13, a housekeeping ordinance to clarify the Town’s or property owners’ of sidewalks. (Property owners of any lot abutting a public sidewalk — not along the rear yard — shall be responsible for snow and ice removal.)

Ocean View Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m.