OV holds workshop on Phase III Streetscape improvements

The Town of Ocean View held an informational workshop this week on Phase III of the town’s Streetscape improvements project.

“The more information we can provide to the public, the better informed they are. That’s why we’re having these workshops — to help provide information that they get from other sources,” said Jon Hermes of Century Engineering.

Hermes said that Century and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) will meet with concerned residents impacted by the project on an as-needed basis.

“We want to work with you. You have a permanent feature in your yard, we don’t want to just blow through it. We want to avoid it, design around it in any way we can,” added Laura Haxton of Century Engineering. “Obviously, within the regulations and standards that we keep, but we want to work with them.”

The Streetscape Project is part of DelDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, established through federal legislation, and is intended to encourage development of a more balanced multi-modal approach to mobility and accessibility.

The workshop, held on Oct. 14, drew about 10 residents who were able to view informational displays and speak to engineers.

“The reason they’re doing this is to get input from all the people whose property abuts the streets they’re going to put sidewalks on,” explained Mayor Walter Curran. “Everyone’s a neighbor, and they want to hear from them.”

The proposed improvements include constructing 5-foot porous concrete sidewalk on Central Avenue between Woodland Avenue and John West Park. A 2-foot grass buffer will also be installed between the sidewalk and curb. The sidewalks constructed will tie into the constructed Phase I sidewalk and the Route 26 Mainline Improvements Project.

“It’s really going to be great when you can walk the whole town and connect to the Assawoman Canal Trail,” said Haxton.

The plans for Phase III are expected to be finalized in spring 2015, with construction beginning in spring of 2016.

Curran said some residents have voiced their concerns over the temporary 7-foot easement the Town must acquire from property owners to install the sidewalks.

“Nobody is taking anybody’s property. It’s literally a temporary easement to put the sidewalk in,” explained Curran, adding that he hoped the meeting eased residents’ concerns. “I understand the question being raised and their concerns.”

Curran emphasized that he absolutely supports continuing the Streetscape project, which he said will allow Ocean View to become a more pedestrian-friendly town.

“Ultimately, it will reach up to the new Assawoman Canal Trail, and we’ll have connectivity. It enhances property values,” he said.

The Town splits costs of the project with the federal government, under the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program, at an 80/20 split. Each phase may not exceed $1 million.

“You can’t beat that,” said Curran. “This enhances property values.”