Incumbents keep Fenwick seats

There will be no town council election in Fenwick Island this year.
In the absence of Council President Peter Frederick, Council Member Harry Haon announced during the president’s report at the June 24 council meeting that only four nominees had been presented for the four council positions that were up for new terms in 2005.

Election Committee Chairwoman Lynn Andrews noted that all four nominees had been found to be qualified — and each of them was a sitting incumbent: Theo Brans, Chris Clark, Martha Keller and Audrey Serio.

The committee recommended no election be held on that basis and council members unanimously approved that recommendation.

Mary Pat Kyle noted that the lack of an election would necessitate a change to the traditional “meet-the-candidates” night held by the town’s homeowner’s association.

The meeting will still be held, she said, with an eye toward electing the HOA’s officers. But the candidate portion of the forum may instead be labeled as an opportunity to get to know the town council members better, rather than examine them for voting preferences that are now moot.

Continuing with his substitute president’s report, Haon confirmed that the funding for the town’s planned beach reconstruction project is in place, with an anticipated Aug. 15 start date, following an Aug. 1 “mobilization” of equipment.

He emphasized that no town funds would be spent on the project, estimated to cost $4.5 million to $6 million in combined federal and state monies. The funding allocations suggest a Sept. 30 deadline for the bulk of the work to be completed.

There is no detailed plan for the project, as yet, in terms of what beach areas will be closed and when, but those details should be coming to the town in the intervening weeks. Haon promised notification of closures would be provided in advance, with an accompanying promise of excellent communication from all involved.

Council Member Vicki Carmean said she hoped everyone will be patient with the process.

Haon also made his condolences to the friends and family of longtime Fenwick Island resident Florence Link, who died recently. Haon noted Link’s involvement in town affairs and specifically mentioned her determination to attend town meetings, even when just out of the hospital. Despite that illness, Haon recalled, “She looked like a million dollars” at that meeting.

Carmean also praised Link’s work as a member of the town’s Beautification Committee, saying she had made great suggestions for their work and would be missed. Link is survived by her husband, Ed, and children Nina and Chuck.

Also at the June 24 meeting, council members unanimously approved an essentially unchanged schedule of fees for the town.

Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Ferry introduced council members and those in attendance at the meeting to members of the 2005 FIBP squad. Ferry noted that of the 32 FIBP employees for 2005, 11 are female.

The training continues for the patrol members, as they work to complete their U.S. Lifeguarding Association certification. The Red Cross certification is done and Ferry said the remaining elements should be completed this week.

The guard captain also noted that anyone spotting more than one lifeguard on a guard stand should not assume they were simply chatting, but instead realize that one of the guards was likely a rookie, completing training under the eye of a veteran guard.

FIBP members are also training for the Open Water Rescue Program with the U.S. Coast Guard and Delaware State Police. The squad has been assigned an area of coverage running from South Bethany south to the state line and will be responsible for assisting with all ocean and bay water rescues, coordinated with rescue helicopters.

In other business, Public Works Committee Chairwoman Serio addressed Carmean’s stated concerns about flooding problems at the intersection of Shoals and Dagsboro streets, saying she was aware of the problem and would be having it looked into for improvements.

Town Administrator Helen Torres noted that some of the books in the town hall library had been donated recently, with an eye toward increasing turnover of the stock of reading material. She said anyone looking for donations of books should check with the town, while those seeking to donate books for others to read were also welcome to bring them in.

Readers are, of course, encouraged to stop in to town hall and borrow a book.

Fenwick Island Police Chief Colette Sutherland noted that her department has joined with other local police forces to be part of the Check Point Strike Force program that will perform driving-under-the-influence checks throughout the year.

In the case of Fenwick Island, Sutherland noted that a checkpoint was planned for the town on at least one date in July, likely in the late-night and early morning hours.

Sutherland also mentioned a need for one to three volunteers to help with the police department’s vehicle maintenance program. While those volunteers might be asked to help out by, say, washing a police car, she said help was particularly needed with tasks like ferrying the cars to a repair shop for any needed maintenance or repairs.

Public Safety and Beach Patrol Committee Chairman Brans noted that some 50 people had turned out for the beach clean-up event held in May. They removed approximately 153 pounds of trash, including cigarettes and plastic utensils, he said.

In the wake of professional beach cleaning already performed this season, Brans requested the council’s approval for three additional cleanings, with the third being tentatively scheduled rather than certain.

The cleanings would take place twice in July, with the third (August) date to be left up in the air until the need for it has been established in the face of the replenishment project. Council members emphasized the first two cleanings in unanimously approving the request, with the third to be determined by need.

Reporting from the Beautification Committee, Carmean noted plans proceeding for a “living fence” to screen the town’s recycling area. She said she was pursuing a state grant that would cover up to $8,000 in work and materials for that area and screening a garbage-truck storage area off Cannon Street.

The town may have to front the money for the project, but the grant would cover all aspects, including administrative costs. Carmean noted that she didn’t expect the project to require anywhere near the $8,000 maximum grant allowance, based on bids received thus far.

Environmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Keller presented the council with the completed environmental brochure from her committee while noting ongoing training and information being provided for some of the town’s unofficial environmental projects, such as oyster farming.

Commercial Liaison Committee Chairman Clark requested and received council permission for a waiver on restrictions against live music in the town. The waiver will allow the Golden Hands Steele Drum Band of Trinidad to perform at Warren’s restaurant on July 6, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., in the parking lot there.

(Members of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts steel drum band Steel the Show recently visited Trinidad in furtherance of their own training in that traditional homeland of the musical instruments and style.)

Clark also noted the cancellation of the planned aquathalon, a combined road and swimming event that was to be held in Fenwick Island for the first time this summer. Clark said organizing company SurfRacer sports had withdrawn their agreement to organize the event due to a lack of support from the council.

An inaugural edition of the event was not ruled out, but for 2006, Clark said, with hopes expressed that the council would be more organized in its support and more willing to work with organizers to secure parking throughout the town.

Clark noted that the aquathalon organizers had been requested to keep all parking in commercial lots, while other town-hosted events had been given more leeway on parking restrictions.

Finally, council members agree to cancel the planned July 9 workshop-without-agenda, in favor of an August meeting.

What will take place on July 9 is the planned second meeting of the Fenwick Island Fishing Club, according to club President John Belian. The meeting will take place at 11 a.m. in the town hall.