Beautification efforts continue in Fenwick

Fenwick Island’s Beautification Committee has been industriously trying to spruce up the coastal town over the last year. They’ve already accomplished much, pushing for the median beautification project that was completed last year, installing vegetative breaks to disguise functional but unattractive areas such as the recycling drop-off area and doing makeovers on the restrooms in town hall.

With those projects complete, the committee has been focusing both on a few smaller projects and on the future of their efforts. At their April 3 meeting, much of the discussion focused on plans to purchase a “smoker’s outpost” and matching trash can for the town hall entrance — both a functional move and an effort to encourage business owners to do the same.

As it stands, businesspeople and some members of the community have been at odds over how to tackle some of the trash problems in the commercial district. The community members would like storefronts kept free of the discarded trash and cigarette butts that tend to accumulate when no receptacles are provided. On the other hand, businesspeople who have provided trash receptacles have complained that they’re often flooded with trash more appropriately discarded at home, like fast-food containers and dirty diapers.

In order to encourage a more pleasant environment, the Beautification Committee has worked with the town to set the example with its own trash can and smoker’s outpost, and tentatively offered to chip in a little — $20, perhaps — for the expense business owners will incur to buy their own containers.

The remaining decision for the short term has been exactly which containers to buy, how much to spend and whether they should match. And committee members combed over yet another catalogue April 3, settling on a few potential options that could be finalized at their next meeting.

On the nagging problem of residential trash, committee members noted recent clarification and reminders from the town that honest-to-goodness trash cans are required when placing trash at the street for collection. Bags alone simply won’t cut it, under the town’s ordinances. It’s well known that determined seagulls find thin plastic an easy target and then spread trash around the area. So the town will be reminding property owners and visitors to put their trash in sturdier containers, and enforcing the requirement with fines, if need be.

The other aspect of that requirement is that often trash cans are left out by weekend visitors only to be blown around their neighborhood after trash collection. While some residents have made a practice of doing their absent neighbors a favor and bringing in the cans, there has been renewed support for requiring bins at the street to contain the cans there. That has yet to be decided, but there is growing support for either requiring that option or more enforcement of requirements to put trash containers back near their homes in short order.

The Beautification Committee’s idea to add plantings near the new dune crossings remains on the books, but they are still awaiting contact with the state forester who helped them obtain grants for previous projects. Council Member and committee Chairwoman Vicki Carmean said she expected some kind of grant money would be available, whether the plantings were simple pine tree groupings or more elaborate xeroscape designs that would thrive in arid seaside conditions.

The committee continues to focus on the median project, with plans to further enhance the plantings as soon as the care of the areas is turned over to the town from the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). The first bit of work may include adding some spring-flowering bulbs, such as crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth and tulips, with planting work done this fall. And new winter interest may include plants such as winterberry.

Finally, council and committee member Chris Clark noted that he was still pursuing prices on the decorative banners the committee is hoping to display on Coastal Highway on a seasonal basis. He said he hoped to present the prices to his Commercial Liaison Committee at their next meeting. That committee is expected to help share the costs of the project with the Beautification Committee.

The committee is set to meet next on May 1, at 9 a.m.