Frankford looks at park, police and water bills

Frankford Town Council members had a full agenda at their meeting this week, discussing everything from feral cats to the town’s new water plant to a grant to outfit the town park on April 4.

The council members decided to hold a workshop to review police policies and accepted the resignation of part-time police officer Jason D. Bergman, who was scheduled to ship out for a one- to two-year deployment to Afghanistan at the end of this week, according to Police Chief Bill Dudley.

Representatives from Tidewater Utilities reported that Well No. 4 is officially hooked into the new water plant, which is up and running. It has already pumped 2.512 million gallons of water. Resident Greg Welch asked about the water plant’s backwash schedule, and Council President Jesse Truitt responded that it is done automatically, about every 45 hours.

Welch also asked why 69 days had elapsed between the water meter reading in January and getting his bill for that two-month period, saying the town had been told it was “bad business practice” to bill less often than monthly.

After other citizens present at the meeting brought up the possibility of hiring part-time help for Town Clerk Terry Truitt, to expedite the water billing process, Terry Truitt noted that they were looking for grants to help get things done more efficiently, including the possible purchase of a wireless meter-reading system and related software, but that other work and weather-related delays do impact the billing cycle.

“This is not the only thing being done in this office,” she said, pointing out that town water bills had once been for a two-month billing period that didn’t even include the date when the meter had been read. “There is no simple answer. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

The town council also discussed at length on Monday formally accepting a grant from the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund (DTF) in the amount of $12,500, for improvements to the town park. The grant is a matching grant, so Frankford will have to come up with $12,500 of its own in order to receive the entire grant amount.

Councilman Charles Shelton said he wanted to make sure that there was a basketball court included in the equipment proposed for the park, as it had not been included in the original grant proposal from the town, though volleyball and low-impact exercise facilities had been. Referring to an apparent lack of call for basketball facilities in responses to the citizen survey the town sent out last year – only 26 of which were returned – Shelton asked from which parts of town the responses had come. He said he believed there was a call for basketball facilities.

Truitt said the surveys had been anonymous and emphasized that the council’s decision at this time was simply whether accept the grant’s general outline. Specifics could be discussed later, she said.

“I understand the general outline,” said Shelton, “but I see it in black and white, and I’d like to see a basketball court in the park.” Truitt emphasized that the design for the project would be a council decision, regardless of what was in the proposal.

Shelton asked if they couldn’t go door to door to get a more accurate response from all the townspeople, and not just a select few who chose to return the survey.

Truitt said she hoped public discussion of the issue would get the word out that the Town of Frankford wants to hear from all of its people, to see what type of equipment they want at the park. She emphasized that the grant, as written, is not in stone, but merely suggestions of equipment they could purchase. The grant, she noted, is intended, at least in part, to combat obesity.

“We are very interested in finding out what’s out there,” she said of the opinions of the people, saying it was “their park.”

The council on Monday also discussed relocating/allocating monies from a Wilmington Trust-transfer tax account to Bank of Delmarva or possibly Fulton Bank to an account titled with several uses. They had discussed it at their March meeting and tabled the issue, so they discussed it again this week, ultimately deciding that interest, speed of transfer and proximity to lawyers’ offices should be considered. Truitt said the way Wilmington Trust currently handles their transactions is “antiquated,” requiring physical checks to be issued and then deposited into another account at the same bank, for tracking purposes.

“We are losing money. It is literally sitting in there for 30 days before they clear the account out,” she said.

Truitt said she had been trying “to no avail” for six years to get the bank to expedite the process, since funds were being deposited into the same bank from which they were generated. The council eventually decided to have representatives from Bank of Delmarva, Fulton Bank and M&T Bank, which recently acquired Wilmington Trust, come and talk to the council about their services.

On April 4, Frankford town council agreed that they would talk with an engineer about a request from Triumf LLC to provide water service as an out-of-town user to Honolulu Trailer Park, which consists of eight occupied and five unoccupied units.

The property owner had received a letter saying the well that already services the 13 properties needed to be replaced. Being that the property is less than 200 feet from town services – within a range that would preclude a new well permit without a special exception – he approached the town with a request for information about whether town water service would be available to his property.

In order to give him an accurate account of what the town would need from him as a property owner and what they might be able to provide, the council decided to look into it more in depth, with help from the engineer.

Finally, the town council heard from Anne Gryczon, executive director of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter currently under construction and slated for completion this fall. While the shelter facility is being built, Gryczon said, they provide four services, one of which is spay and neuter – which could help the town of Frankford with a feral cat problem that was brought to the council’s attention last month. (She said the other services Safe Haven currently provides are adoption, a pet food pantry and emergency medical care for pets.)

“We work with the Town of Greenwood, and split the cost,” she said of the shelter’s ongoing work with feral cats in that town. The cost amounts to about $80 per cat and includes trapping, spaying and neutering the feral cats, vaccinating them and providing them with any needed medical care before returning them to where they came from.

“We could try one colony and see how it works out,” she said, “and also deal with them individually.”

She left the council with brochures about the organization.

In other news from the April 4 council meeting:

• The council approved two change orders for the new water plant, in the amount of $6,835, to include programming changes for equipment, and furnishing and installing a fluoride feed system, and agreed to pay Shureline Construction $39,452.93 – the retainage that was being held for the 2009 Water Treatment Improvements Project.