Fenwick Island News
Town of Fenwick Island, Delaware
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Fenwick Island’s new personnel program will help employees in need, starting with a town police officer and his baby boy.
Town Council had a special meeting Nov. 5 just to consider and approve a Donated Leave Program.
The Fenwick Island Town Council has backed off its original proposal to increase permitted hotel room density in the town. On Oct. 23, they approved, 5-2, the first reading of an ordinance that allows only existing hotels to increase density, to one sleeping room per 600 square feet of land.
When it comes to hotels, Fenwick Island is trying to find a way to make everyone happy.
The town council will consider a new ordinance on Oct. 23 that would allow the Sands Motel to have a higher density than it does now but limit any future hotels to the current, more restrictive code.
Fenwick Island’s Business Development Committee took a look at the summer season for past improvements and future ideas.
Limitations teeter on the table
The Town of Fenwick Island took the first step this week toward loosening its hotel ordinance, which would help a local business owner renovate and upgrade the Sands Motel. A majority of the council voted on Sept. 25 to approve the first reading of commercial zoning changes (zoning Chapter 160-2 and 160-5).
The Fenwick Island Town Council election is over for 2015, but discussions of it aren’t quite in the past.
Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) officials announced around 4:30 p.m. that, due to high water, Route 1 northbound and southbound was being closed between Bethany and Dewey Beach (including the Charles Cullen Bridge over the Indian River Inlet).
With moderate to major coastal flooding expected at high tides today and tomorrow, along with high wind warnings along the coast, Gov. Jack Markell at noon on Oct. 2 issued a Limited State of Emergency for Sussex County, effective immediately. State offices will remain open, and no driving restrictions are being implemented; however, localized road closures may occur as conditions warrant it.
Like any parents, Stephen and Amanda Lowe are delighted to be having their first child together in October. But their baby boy has a long road ahead, starting with open-heart surgery within days of his birth.
Still in the womb, baby Coleton was diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries (TGA), in which his largest arteries are incorrectly attached to the chambers of the heart.
The Fenwick Island Town Council may consider a new gun ordinance prohibiting the public from carrying firearms inside town buildings, including the police department.
As soon as Emilie Bonano realized that she enjoyed marketing, she wanted to do that in a tourist location. That makes her new position as communications manager for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce even more fitting.
What is the role of communications manager? “It’s all-encompassing,” she said. She’ll handle all press releases, newsletters, social media and email lists, but also creating, developing and selling ads for Chamber publications.
“Working for such a wonderful organization that really brings all of the tourism businesses together all in one, and being able to make this community united and getting the [word] out there for everyone” really excited her about this job, she said.
Bonano said she wanted to join a group that makes people and tourists “feel at home when they visit,” and get “the community united, and getting our tourists here going to the businesses that are members of the Chamber.”
The Chamber staff was delighted with her experience in marketing, event planning and recruiting.
Since the age of 15, Tim Ferry has been guarding Delaware beaches. That was 40 years ago. But the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol captain wasn’t allowed to begin his 41st year without some celebration, as the Fenwick Island Town Council honored Ferry at its Aug. 28 meeting.
“There’s not much micro-management that has to occur when you’re working with” such an experienced employee, said Town Manager Merritt Burke.
More than the certificate and $50 award (per the Town personnel policy), Ferry looked amazed to receive a huge round of applause from the residents as he posed for photos with several other FIBP lifeguards.
“To say I like my job would be an understatement, but thank you,” Ferry said emotionally to the full house.
Even before beginning his 12 years as a FIBP leader, he learned to never underestimate anything on the beach, regardless riptides or calm water. Vacationing locally as a child, he’s always been enchanted by everything about the beach, from the sand to the small town.
For more than 60 years, the Sands Motel in Fenwick Island has operated with fewer than 40 rooms. The current town code prevents new owner Spiro Buas from rebuilding a hotel with more than 39 rooms, which is a third less than the other hotels in town.
Buas is requesting that the Town significantly reduce the density limit so he can build a comparable motel.
Fenwick Island Town Council members got an earful on Aug. 28, regarding flood insurance, motels and the recent election.
Resident Pete Frederick shared his concerns over the August election, including voter qualification, registration and the election itself. After comparing the Town’s actions to state and town law, he encouraged town council to change the requirements.
The council addressed his complaint about the town manager and town clerk (non-members of the Board of Elections) sitting at the door with a list of addresses to check people in.
The Board had invited those two to “be present for any questions,” the June minutes state. Weisling said any concerns should have been raised at that time, but Frederick called it infringement if people were turned away at the door.
More than half of Fenwick Island’s eligible voters cast ballots in the Aug. 1 town council election, responding to a month of intense campaigning by the six candidates running for four seats.
Incumbents Richard Mais (251 votes), Gene Langan (245) and Roy Williams (223) led in the polls, followed by challenger Julie Lee (199). They defeated challengers Lisa Benn (195) and Ann Christ (173).
The Fenwick Island Town Council approved the Town’s fee schedule and financial plan for the 2016 fiscal year at a July 24 council meeting, including a $1.8 million operating budget, $262,000 in capital improvements and new funding for maintenance of town parks — all with no property tax increase.
Town Manager Merritt Burke noted some increases in fees, with a business license to cost $185, up $10; late-payment fees up from $25, to $100; the special-event deposit increasing to $250; bonfire permits up $25, to $75; and the cost of an additional parking tag increasing to $75, from $50.
The Fenwick Island Town Council and Town staff bid farewell to outgoing councilwoman and mayor Audrey Serio at her last meeting behind the council table on July 24. Serio was first elected to the council in 2003, having made the decision to run, she recalled, because her father had previously been elected to the council.
“I had built a new house here in Fenwick Island with my husband, and I said I was going to run and serve for one term — and here I stand,” she said 12 years later.
Fenwick Island voters will select more than half of the town council when they take to the polls on Saturday, Aug. 1, from 1 to 5 p.m. at town hall. Four seats on the seven-member council are up for election this year, with six candidates in the race.
Councilwoman Diane Tingle was the first to broach the topic of Fenwick Island’s voter registration process at the July 24 town council meeting, using the “old business” segment of the meeting to refresh memories about an ordinance the Town adopted in 2008, as part of efforts in Fenwick and other municipalities statewide to comply with changes in Delaware election law.
The good news was that no one was injured. But the tragedy was that the Wolfenbarger family lost everything else when their brand new home burned down on Thursday, July 16.
Two separate salvage companies have determined that none of their belongings was salvageable. The items that were lost were once special to Jeff and Kim Wolfenbarger and their teenage daughter, Isabel.
They may be retired educators, but that doesn’t mean that these members of the Barefoot Gardeners Club are finished teaching.
After being awarded a first-place state award for environmental stewardship for their work with butterfly gardens, the group is switching things up this summer for their “Children’s Story Hour” at the town park adjacent to Fenwick Island Town Hall.
“This year, we decided to change our plan a little bit,” explained Sue Clark, one of the club’s youth committee pioneers. “We wanted to teach about seeds and about growing vegetables.”
For their first session of the summer, on Wednesday, July 8, the kids already got a chance to see some of those vegetables sprout, after the group planted a garden full of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers.
The Dairy Queen is one of the very few businesses in Fenwick Island that has been in the same location for more than 60 years. It was opened by Virgil Willey in 1952. Willey was the school principal in Bridgeville, and he opened and closed the “treat store,” as it was known, according to the school summer vacation schedule.
Lanta Conaway bought the store 10 years ago to be a family business. She and her husband, Don Conaway, are both Realtors and have lived in Fenwick Island all their lives. In fact, Lanta’s grandparents on both sides lived there.
“I remember when it was just a walk-up with a single window,” she said. “I even worked here as a teenager for a while. At first, they just sold vanilla, chocolate and twist cones — always with a curly-Q on top — and then milkshakes and malts, followed by banana splits. It was always called soft-serve, as real ice cream has 4-percent milk and ours is 2-percent milk.”
“They built this structure to last,” said Don Conaway. “The concrete was dug into the ground and the later additions to accommodate the open flame brazier, and then eat-in seating, are equally sound. Even in the 1962 storm, when many of the local cottages were destroyed, and recently during Sandy, no damage was done here.”
A number of sightings near ocean beaches over the holiday weekend and the subsequent washing ashore of several Portuguese man o’ war this week prompted DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Police to issue a caution statement urging people to avoid the stinging jellyfish relatives that are rare tropical visitors to the Delaware coast.
To commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Americans gather together each year to celebrate the country’s independence from Great Britain with family and friends.
In the local community, there is no shortage of celebration — from family barbecues and picnics on the beach, to parades and fireworks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
South Bethany to hold holiday weekend fun
South Bethany is heating up for the holiday weekend, from a boat parade to movie night.
Pedestrian Safety Day comes to South Bethany on Friday, July 3, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety will distribute safety information and demonstrate best practices, to encourage bicycles, motorists and pedestrians to share the street, on the corner of Henlopen Drive and Route 1.
Pedestrians are being urged again to walk safely, especially during these busy summer months, following an incident Saturday evening that left a 9-year-old boy in critical condition.