Fenwick banner project moves ahead

Fenwick Island’s main drag will soon sport some colorful accents, if plans from the town’s Beautification and Commercial Liaison committees move forward apace.

Councilman Chris Clark said April 27 that he was just seeking to narrow to three the six top choices of design for fabric banners to be displayed on Coastal Highway, with input of both committees. He brought sketches of the six finalists to the April 27 Commercial Liaison Committee meeting but fell short of getting any input, due to other commitments made by committee members.

On Monday, May 1, Clark brought the same six designs before Beautification Committee members, who were already delving into decision-making on which “smoker’s outpost” and trash can options they wanted to endorse for the town hall.

While Beautification Committee Chairwoman Vicki Carmean favored a mermaid design among the contenders, those six designs were quickly whittled down to three — one for each of the three seasons (spring, summer and fall) the banners will portray, while holiday decorations will grace the tall roadside poles in the town, as has become the custom. Each will be on a black background, graced simply with the town’s name.

For spring: the town’s landmark lighthouse, portrayed in its costume of black-accented white. For summer: a brightly colored beach umbrella, with a bright red crab below. And, for fall, an orange pumpkin, capped with a green leaf and the light of a harvest moon. Runners-up: a flip-flop, the sun and Carmean’s favored mermaid.

The committee members briefly discussed the possibility of rotating the designs or using multiple designs for a single season, but they agreed to stick with the three seasonal designs for now.

Next up: arranging the fashioning of the banners, at 30-by-60 inches each (a size suggested by the manufacturer, based on the size of the poles) and the financing to have them made. Estimates came in at $9,500 for the three sets of banners (one for each season) for 18 poles, including hardware and a five-year guarantee.

Both committees have some funding left in their budgets for the current year, but Clark planned for the bulk of the expense to go into the 2007 fiscal year budget, which is currently being planned.

While a larger expenditure would require town council approval, Carmean said she thought the committees might be able to go ahead and spend an approximate $2,600 amount for a single season’s banners, perhaps having them in place by the Fourth of July weekend, as Clark had said he hoped would be the case.

Clark again emphasized this week that, while the Commercial Liaison Committee had done much of the work on the project, it was intended to beautify and identify the town as a whole — not just the commercial area. “We just happen to be the ones who took the ball and ran with it,” he said.

Carmean was also making plans to purchase flower bulbs for a mass planting of the newly landscaped medians on Coastal Highway. Committee members favored larger plantings of bulbs that would last many years or naturalize and thereby produce a larger display, rather than petering out over the years. They said they were also willing to do the planting themselves. Carmean said council members were eagerly anticipating the project.

The Beautification Committee has also worked with the Commercial Liaison Committee on another of its projects: efforts to get trash cans and/or “smoker’s outposts” for the town hall and commercial shopping centers, and thereby reduce the amount of trash being left to flow loose around its streets.

The project wasn’t initially greeted as warmly by the members of the town’s business community, but Beautification Committee member Joyce Chaconus has continued to encourage the town’s business owners to at least consider investing in the cigarette disposal units. Carmean said she’d noticed a number of them doing so on their own since the campaign started.

However, one aspect of the idea has remained controversial — a proposed incentive of perhaps $10 or $20 that Chaconus has championed as a way to help encourage the business owners to participate. Previous discussion of the idea was left unimplemented; but during the council’s April 28 meeting, former Town Council Member Buzz Henefin questioned whether it was going to happen. He said he was adamantly opposed to spending tax dollars to help the businesses with the expense.

From her seat on the council, Carmean issued a quick denial of the plans for an incentive, but she retracted that denial Monday, apologizing to Chaconus for having not explained the plan during the council session.

“I guess I was colored by what I read in the Coastal Point,” she explained, referencing an article on April 25’s Ocean View Town Council meeting.

That meeting included heated discussion focused on an expenditure approved by an Ocean View councilman that exceeded the town’s limits for an amount that can be spent without a bidding process and council approval, and which should have been approved only by the town manager if for a lesser amount.

Carmean said she’d immediately related Henefin’s criticisms of the plan to such questions of committee/councilperson authority and spending authorizations, and had simply flatly denied such expenditures had been made.

While the program had never been implemented or formally endorsed by the council, it had been discussed several times by the various committees, and Chaconus was equally quick to respond to the criticisms with her own support for the measure.

She restated her reasons at the May 1 committee meeting, noting the $10 incentive would represent about 10 percent of the cost of a single outpost, which could come out to $50 or less per business if they were shared between two storefronts. The total expense to the town might be $100 or $200, she estimated.

Carmean agreed, noting that the merchants do pay taxes to the town, “And if it benefits the whole town, you can’t just look at it as ‘us’ and ‘them.’”

So the incentive program remains a possibility, if one that will still need to be investigated and possibly approved by the council.

Meanwhile, the committee members made a final decision on the design of outposst they’ve selected for town hall – favoring a lighthouse-themed outpost in a red-accented “Nantucket” design. They noted that bulk orders of the approximately $80 outposts — if business owners wanted to participate — would not only reduce the costs per unit but could ensure the town’s efforts at refuse control would have a consistent theme.

After months of wrangling over another design choice, the committee also selected a trash can for town hall. Both will be placed at the building’s entrance.