Ocean View holds public workshop on sidewalk plans

On March 29, Ocean View held a public informational workshop for the conceptual design of Phase II of the Pedestrian Improvements Project.

“We did get a lot of residents on West Avenue that were very receptive to the project. We’re trying to stay within the existing right-of-way, and it’s going to make a really nice path. It’s going to help the pedestrians a lot,” said engineer Laura Miller of Century Engineering, which is designing the project.

Through funding from the Delaware Department of Transportation’s (DelDOT’s) Transportation Enhancements (TE) Program, the town will be able to continue to apply for pedestrian pathway funding.

The conceptual design for Phase II consists of a 5-foot-wide pedestrian path along the west side of West Avenue, from Woodland Avenue to Route 26, and along the south side of Central Avenue, from Woodland Avenue to Route 26.

“We’ll submit conceptual plans in May, and what it does is DelDOT will take that to General Assembly. So nothing has been approved yet for either project, but we don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be, other than state budget,” she said.

Miller said that Town of Ocean View has a total of six phases, which amount to the town’s master plan, and has to simply keep reapplying each year to continue the process.

“The town has a master plan — and that’s how the TE program is set up. DelDOT likes when they have towns that come back for different phases because, in the end, they’ll have a complete pedestrian system. It’s really a community-based project, which is why we’re really excited about it — to see the connection that they want to do.”

DelDOT Statewide Pedestrian Coordinator Rich Sinegar said there is no limit to the number of times a town can apply for funding through the program.

“If they keep applying every year, the goal is to eventually have all of this connected,” he said.

Sinegar explained that the maximum construction amount for each project is $1 million, of which the town will pay 20 percent.

“There are a lot of other towns and communities within the state that don’t utilize the program, and they pay for it themselves out of their town budget. That’s why this program is good,” he said.

Miller said it’s important for residents to realize that the phases are what the town wants, not the state.

“This is what the town envisions,” she said.

“It’s their concept; it’s their ideas. We just put it on paper and get it in the ground,” added Sinegar.

Ocean View resident Richard Nippes said he thinks the project will be a benefit to the town.

“I like the idea. It’s going to be good. But there are some problems there that have to be solved,” he said, adding that it would be good for those who are disabled, as he often sees people in wheelchairs who have to travel throughout the community on the roadways.

He does harbor some reservations, he noted, as he said his development is afraid that construction of the sidewalks could potentially damage landscaping and two old pine trees by their entrance.

Realizing there are budgetary concerns for the town regarding funding for the project, Nippes said, “Finding $200,000 may be difficult, but I think the town will be better off with it than without it.”

“I’m very pleased with the turnout. Concerns were brought up – I think adequately responded to by our engineering firm,” said Town Manager Conway Gregory. “I hope we can do this project. It would benefit the town greatly.”

The Woodland Avenue Pedestrian Improvements Project, which was Phase I of the project, is scheduled to begin construction this fall.