Millville looks at continuing curbside recycling

At the Sept. 22 Millville Town Council workshop, the council continued to discuss the possible acquisition of property adjacent to Town Hall owned by Councilman Richard Thomas. At a half-acre in size, the property currently holds a house with a well and sewer but is being considered as additional parking for the town hall.

Thomas said he had received estimates for the removal of the house, the hauling and removal of trees and the stoning of the lot to make it a parking lot. In preparation for the removal of the house, he is currently having the siding and shingles on the house removed, at a cost of $2,500. Thomas’s asking price for the lot, “as is,” is $99,000, but the cost for the property to become a graveled lot is estimated at $19,000 – a total of $118,000 that it would cost the town for their new parking lot.

Mayor Don Minyon said on Tuesday that he would like Thomas to have all the needed work done and then have the town buy the property as an empty lot. Councilman Jon Subity said he believed the $5,000 estimate Thomas received for the removal of the house was a good price. He suggested that, instead of stoning the lot, the town consider having it strawed and cedared to leave options open for the future use of the lot.

Councilman Michael Jeffers also agreed that the estimated prices were reasonable but questioned how environmentally friendly it would be and stated he could not justify a $120,000 parking lot that Town Hall does not currently need.

Minyon said that, eventually, the town would place a two-story garage at the back of the Thomas lot. He said he would like to see the lot used next summer for community yard sales once a month and also to hold a farmers’ market. Minyon said the reasoning behind having the lot filled with stone is to cut down on the cost of maintaining the lot, such as cutting the grass.

Councilman Gerry Hocker said he was in favor of purchasing the lot but would not want the surface to be left as dirt or topsoil.

Jeffers reiterated that he was comfortable with the purchase price. He said he would, however, want the land cleared before the town purchased it and would like to see a drawing depicting how the gravel will be placed.

Jeffers emphasized that he would not want the whole lot to just be gravel. He asked if Kyle Gulbronson, the town’s engineering consultant, could inspect the property and perhaps even have a few Realtors come in and give an estimate of what would be the fair market value for the lot, to ensure citizens the town would be paying a fair price.

Town Manager Debbie Botchie said she would speak with the town solicitor, Seth Thompson about drafting a turnkey agreement, so the town would be able to acquire Thomas’s property under specific conditions, such as the house being removed and predetermined dimensions of gravel placed in specific areas. She said she will also contact a few local Realtors to inquire about an estimated fair market price for the lot. Botchie also noted that, if the town were to decide to purchase the property, a public hearing would have to be held on the issue.

The council tentatively plans to vote on purchasing the property at their Oct. 13 meeting.

Other unfinished business discussed at the Sept. 22 meeting was the continuation of curbside recycling. The town will lose grant funding for the program at the end of next month but council members said they would like to continue recycling at a low cost for residents.

Minyon said he had spoken with Allied Waste, which picks up curbside recycling for Fenwick Island and South Bethany, and an unofficial estimate per pick-up, per household, would be $2 – which would cost a household $52 per year for bi-weekly pick-up. Delaware Solid Waste estimated a $6 per-pick-up fee, which would cost $156 per household per year. Neither company has provided the town an estimate or bid in writing.

The recycling contract would be for three years, and every resident participating would be billed on their tax bill once a year by the town.

Jeffers spoke in favor of the program, saying he believes it will ultimately save residents money. He stated he would also be open to a small subsidy from the town to continue recycling pick-up at a lesser costs to property owners once the existing grant funding stops, to aid in a seamless transition to the new collection system.

Hocker informed the council that the State of Delaware will more than likely be placing a recycling center near Fresh Pond and asked them to consider how that could affect town participation in the curbside recycling program.

The council will vote on curbside recycling at their Oct. 13 meeting, as long as firm estimates are offered by Allied Waste and Delaware Solid Waste.

Other news of note from the Millville council:

• Town Hall is being repainted, inside and out.

• Botchie informed the council that Gulbronson had notified her that the town is eligible for $20,000 in energy assistant grants.

• Council members were given forms for nominations of candidates for Citizen of the Year. The honor will be awarded during the town’s Great Pumpkin Festival next month. Nomination forms are available to the public at town hall. The honoree will be selected for his or her contributions to making Millville a great place to live, work and visit.

• Council members were asked by Millville’s Planning and Zoning Committee to review a set of requirements for accessory structures, including free-standing signage, such as the LED sign displayed by the Millville Volunteer Fire Company.

• Minyon publicly thanked the Town of Ocean View and their police department for responding to incidents in Millville. Minyon also said he believes the passage of a gross rental receipt tax would be good for Millville’s future public safety department; however, he said, it is not something that will happen in the immediate future.