Millville council gives the go-ahead for Thursday farmers' market

Millville will join the list of area towns that will have a farmers’ market this summer, with the Millville market set to take place on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The town council has discussed the idea for the past few months and this week approved going ahead with it.

Town Manager Debbie Botchie said the vendor agreements for the market have been approved by the town solicitor and insurance carrier. She also reported that they had received a letter of support for the market from Millville United Methodist Church, across the street, offering to accommodate parking for the market.

She said the Town has also applied to the Sussex County Council for $2,500 in grant funding to help with advertising costs. In addition, she said she and Councilwoman Joan Bennnett were working on possibly getting grocery bags with the market logo on them.

Botchie also reported that they had explored paying state police to slow down and/or direct traffic on Route 26 during the market’s hours of operation.

Bennett explained that she had been told by a local business owner that driving east in the summer and trying to turn left at town hall to park would not be an easy thing to do. Bennett said the police presence would help with safety and with “noticeability” of the market.

“Obviously, having the police out there would make it a safer turn, but it would also benefit the farmers’ market when people say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’”

Councilman Job Subity questioned the $12-per-week fee that was to be charged to the vendors ($120 for 10 vendors, times 17 weeks) and paying the state police.

“At $60 an hour, you are $120 in the hole before you come out of this thing,” he said.

Botchie pointed out that 5 percent of transfer tax revenues have been going into the town’s economic development fund, for things such as the farmers’ market. She also said the state police expenditures would be reimbursed by Sussex County.

“County Council is granting up to $11,000 a year to municipalities that do not have public safety departments,” she said, “so we will be reimbursed.”

Subity said he “100 percent agreed with the logic” but was just questioning the expenses versus the revenue.

“We are almost doubling our annual expense to the state police,” he said.

Botchie replied that the town was “extremely rich” in transfer tax revenue and added that the only thing they could spend it on is public safety, “and this would be a huge relief,” she argued, adding again that the money gets reimbursed by the county. Bennett said the specifics could be worked out in the coming months.

The town council also voted this week to have Councilman Richard Thomas provide Botchie with specifications for a water tank on the town hall property, so bid packages could be sent out. They had discussed in depth at their February workshop the pros and cons of connecting the town hall to Tidewater Utilities’ water supply, versus getting their own tank, and Thomas said he wanted to “get the process started” of getting bid packages out there for the tank.

At the workshop, Thomas said Tidewater’s fee would be $3,900 per year, plus the cost of running a pipe from Windmill Avenue. He said that a tank could cost around $20,000 to purchase, plus the cost of installation, albeit with less maintenance and no yearly fees to a utility. He also asked Code Enforcement Officer Eric Evans to look into whether the town’s generator could handle an additional 75-amp load for a tank and pump.

In other news from this week’s council meeting:

• The council voted to approve a preliminary site plan for a walking trail around Sand Dollar Pond in Millville By the Sea, based upon a favorable recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission.

• The council voted to engage the services from the State of Delaware/Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, to allow the town code-enforcement officer a way of issuing a summons for violations of the code.

• The council tabled a discussion of the status of a “policy” manual for the Millville Volunteer Group.

• The town council will hold a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 28.