Ocean View debates water for restaurant

Ocean View Town Council members considered yet another permutation of Tidewater Utilities’ plan to deliver central water to the parcel at 27 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) at the July 5 council meeting, and heard considerable opposition from residents of Savannah’s Landing in the process.
Perhaps lost in the argument was the fact that the town has anticipated interconnection with Savannah’s Landing at some point, when Ocean View moves forward with its plans for a central water system.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved $3.8 million in grant monies and financing for that project back in early April.

Tidewater has been trying to run a short section of main ahead of the town’s project, to serve Bob Harris’ pending railroad-themed restaurant and retail shops. Tidewater would sell the mains to Ocean View, at the lesser unit price of what the town would be paying, while buying in bulk for their larger project, plus a $10,000 bonus.

However, the project has been slow out of the blocks, and it now being midsummer, Savannah’s Landing residents called it “almost a joke” to consider starting construction work now.

Tidewater engineer Bruce Patrick first came to the town in February with plans of running the main down Route 26, but council rejected that proposal. Patrick came back with an alternate route, along West Avenue and under Route 26, but ran into right-of-way issues there.

He came back with a third proposal, to run the main along Tyler Drive (in Savannah’s Landing) instead.

Council approved that proposal in April, but there are still issues to resolve with the residents.

According to Perry Townsend, president of the property owners’ association, any trenching work along the roadway could put some fine old trees at risk. He and others consider those trees a real asset to the neighborhood. As he reminded council, even if Tidewater steered clear with their excavation, they could still be disturbing spreading root systems.

In addition, Savannah’s Landing already has central water, provided on Bethany Beach infrastructure. “There’s no advantage to the residents of Savannah’s Landing —only to businesses on Route 26,” Townsend said.

However, Patrick said the Department of Public Health strongly recommended system interconnections, for backup and redundancy.

As engineer Chuck Hauser of Davis, Bowen & Friedel (who working on the town’s central water system) reminded those at the meeting, this would simply be a breakout of the original project.

Trees aside, Patrick said Tyler Drive rights-of-way ended at the edge of the pavement, which meant working in the unpaved shoulder would require the acquisition of utility easements. He proposed a 3-foot trench near the edge of the roadway instead.

According to Hauser, if it was the town coming in to do their own project, he would recommend the same thing. The alternative would be nearly cost prohibitive.

Patrick planned a July 21 meeting (1 p.m.) with Savannah’s Landing residents at Town Hall to discuss possible options.

In other business, council members unanimously approved the annexation of the portion of Lord Baltimore Elementary that (before the vote) rested under county jurisdiction and held first readings on three new ordinances.

They moved toward: (1) fines for contractors working outside the hours permitted for construction work — a warning, then up to a $500 fine, then up to a $1,000 fine and revocation of the business license, (2) formal institution of a 5-cents-per-square-foot increase for building permit fees, and (3) addition of establishments “engaged in the sale of alcoholic liquor, beer, wines and spirits for off premises consumption” to the town’s list of conditional uses.

Town Manager Kathy Roth issued a reminder about the first Concert in the Park (John West Park), featuring Junior Wilson – and free ice cream — scheduled for Saturday, July 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Mayor Gary Meredith said members of the Ocean View CHEER Center Building Committee would be there as well, selling hot dogs, chips and bottled water to support the capital campaign.

Roth covered a few options for a proposed Department of Public Works (DPW) garage, possibly utilizing parts of the Cooper or Shore properties on Central Avenue. (The town owns both).

She said she was trying for a matching grant from the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund for a pavilion, volleyball court and some new grills on the newly-acquired parcel just north of Town Hall. If the town won that grant, it would need to place some of that land under permanent conservation easement, she said.

However, as council was still unclear regarding where they might ultimately place the proposed DPW building, Roth said they could probably swap conservation easements around between the three parcels if need be. All three are roughly adjacent to John West Park.

Also at the July 5 meeting, Police Chief Ken McLaughlin publicly recognized outstanding members of the Ocean View Police Department (OVPD). Pfc. Brandon Hammond received the Chief’s Award for work on the 2004 Annual Report. Hammond and Ptlm. Justin Norman received the Heroism Award for rescuing the occupants of a burning vehicle on Jan. 2.

Hammond and Pfc. Mark Burton shared the Lifesaving Award for keeping a patient alive with an automatic external defibrillator (AED), long enough for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company and Sussex County Paramedics to arrive. The patient died at the hospital, but their actions gave family members time to be present before her passing.

Sgt. Heath Hall, Cpl. Kristin Miller and secretary Adrienne Nickerson earned Merit Awards.