The Ocean View Town Council, at its Tuesday, June 9, meeting, conducted by Zoom video-conferencing, finalized Town Manager Carol Houck’s recommendation to keep existing street lights on Ogre Drive that some residents complain are too bright.
During the Citizens’ Privilege portion of the meeting when citizens speak and ask questions, two Ogre Drive residents commented, with one of them, Elaine Cziraky, insisting the survey Houck had sent, asking residents about the brightness, was unfair. Cziraky repeatedly interrupted Houck’s explanation, prompting Mayor John Reddington to order Cziraky to be muted so Houck could finish speaking.
Cziraky argued that, even though a meeting concerning the lights was held over Labor Day weekend last year, it was simply informational, with no minutes kept. She said residents were told lighting would be similar to that at the nearby Beach Club, but instead bright lights were installed.
She said there are 43 residences on Ogre Drive, but only 40 surveys were sent, and that those who don’t live there full-time might not even be concerned about lighting.
Houck said only Ogre Drive residents who have the bright lights in front of their homes received surveys and that the other three residences are in a portion of the street where a light exists, although it was not installed by the Town.
Cziraky said the survey should have been done before the lights were put up, not afterward, and declared her right “to an attorney and to diversity and inclusion.”
“As a citizen of this community, I will speak up,” she said.
Houck said the council has the authority to order street lights, that the mayor and council’s vote secured funding, and that it was “not a secret to anyone as we moved forward.”
Agreeing, Reddington said town officials had put up the lights for residents’ safety.
During the discussion, Houck explained that 12 LED lights were installed. Soon after installation, resident Dick Jennison had expressed his displeasure.
“We dealt with Delmarva Power. They agreed to dim the lights. Since then, Delmarva Power agreed to put in the former style — high-pressure sodium lights — if the Town wanted the lights to be dim,” Houck said.
A survey concerning the brightness was sent to residents. As of Tuesday, June 9, 32 of the 40 surveys sent had been returned, with 15 residents in favor of dimming the lights, 17 opposed and eight not returning the survey.
Houck said lighting installation was recommended in association with complaints about speeding, narrowness of the road, extreme darkness and lack of sidewalks on Ogre Drive.
“As many people bike and walk up and down that street at all hours after nightfall, lighting improvement addresses some of the safety concerns,” she said.
Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said dimming might results in more shadowing toward homes. From his perspective, more light is better, he said.
Councilman Frank Twardzik agreed with Houck, saying the decision was within her authority as town manager and no town council vote was necessary.
Councilman Bert Reynolds said the survey was “almost a 50-50 split, indicating a concern on both sides.”
He asked if lights could be alternated, with some LED and others casting a dimmer light.
Houck said she would check with Delmarva Power, but Twardzik said if the council “starts looking at area residents who wants a softer light, a brighter light, who is going to bear the cost of changing these lightbulbs out? Are we going to be changing these very few years? We could get into a can of worms. We put the lights in. They were approved. I am of the opinion we should leave the lights alone,” he said.
Councilman Tom Maly said the lights have been discussed for the past year and “it’s time to bring this to closure.”
Jennison said he supported Cziraky, who later referred to being muted as a “gag order,” and he asked town officials to work on getting the Ogre Drive developer to turn the street over to the Town so speed-enforcement by local police can begin.
“There is a tremendous problem with speeding, with people going 45 in a 15 mph speed limit,” he said.
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader said the developer’s attorney had delivered a deed of dedication to his office last week and the street should be turned over soon.
Appointment procedures discussed
The Ocean View Town Council, at a special meeting on June 23 — their first in-person meeting in since March — will discuss appointments to boards and committees.
At the Tuesday, June 9, meeting, Mayor John Reddington asked for council discussion and a plan to be put in place so when there is an opening on a board, it is advertised on the Town’s website and in a newspaper of local circulation. He recommended résumés be accepted, with information about the applicant being sent to the town clerk, and a vetting process put in place for applicants.
He said he wanted to discuss what will happen if nobody volunteers for a committee position, if there should be term limits, if five years is too long to serve on a board and the process for dismissal, if necessary.
Councilman Frank Twardzik agreed to work with Reddington.
Schrader reminded them in some cases, term lengths are set by town code.
New vestibule approved
The town council approved adding a vestibule to the back of the administration building on Central Avenue, at a cost of $35,000 to $40,000.
Houck said there had been previous discussion about having a vestibule there, to reduce wind and swirling leaves upon entrance.
“Many of you, if you go there during a windy period, the door pulls right out of your hands. Also, there is a loss of heating and air conditioning,” she said.
Councilman Bert Reynolds suggested handicapped access into the vestibule be included, and Houck said it will be.
Ocean View resident Chris Dominic asked if the vestibule will have a metal detector for protection. Houck said that hadn’t been considered, although it is something many towns are discussing.
Resident objects on procedure
Ocean View resident Dick Jennison told the town council during Citizens’ Privilege that if a resident is required to keep remarks to three minutes during a meeting, that has to be announced at the beginning of the meeting.
He said that is stipulated by Robert’s Rules of Order, but City Solicitor Dennis Schrader said the town council does not follow Roberts Rules of Order.
Replacing second-floor flooring
The Ocean View Town Council approved replacing flooring on the second floor of the town’s administration building on Central Avenue.
Flooring will be replaced in the lobby adjacent to the elevator, in the kitchen, hallways and office areas, with the same kind of carpet and planking that was laid on the first floor.
The contract includes removal of existing carpet for $23,060 with an additional $4,105 charge if it’s necessary to work on evenings or weekends.