Frankford looks to sell police property, move to court building

At the Frankford town’s council’s regular monthly meeting on Oct. 3, Councilman Marty Presley said the council had recently spoken to a number of Realtors regarding Town-owned property.

“The consensus is the best thing to do is to sell the police department” property, said Presley, adding that the money gained from the sale would be used to update the old water plant. He said the property is estimated to sell for $70,000 to $75,000.

The Town would consolidate all its operations, including town hall functions, into the building that currently houses the Justice of the Peace Court, which had been leased from the Town until recently. Once that is done, Presley said, they would look into the possibility of allowing the Envision Frankford group to use the current town hall building as its headquarters.

Presley said the water department and the police department facilities are contained within one deed. The council voted unanimously to separate the two, so as to be able to sell the police department property.

At the meeting, the council announced that it had moved forward with refinancing the Town’s existing debt with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC).

“We took on a tremendous amount of debt in the early 2000s to upgrade the water plant, and we’re still paying that debt. One of the options we’ve been looking at is to refinance the debt with lower interest rates.

“DNREC has come up and said that they could potentially give us a 0-percent interest rate on existing loans, and we could extend the maturity of those loans out to minimize the cashflow hit we’re getting from Mountaire being disconnected from our [water] system.”

Presley said that Council President Joanne Bacon had already signed paperwork to move forward with the refinancing.

“The good news is it will cost us, going forward, 0-percent interest on the outstanding loans we have. The bad news is it extends the loan for another 10 years.”

Presley added that the council has two meetings scheduled for the month of October related to the Town’s statement of appeal to the State’s Environmental Appeals Board. That appeal comes following the decision of DNREC Secretary David Small to allow well permits to be issued to Mountaire Farms for the Frankford feed facility, with the resulting water significantly reducing the amount of Town water once used by Mountaire.

“The loss of revenue over the next 20 years … is a minimum of $1.4 million. Our point of view is where is that $1.4 million going to come from? That’s how we’re going into the meetings. We’ll see what happens.”

Presley said that, depending what comes of the DNREC meeting, the Town may choose to drop the appeal. He added that the closed meeting would be held off-the-record and without attorneys present.

Delaware Avenue resident Wesley Hayes, who has been working to get his street clean water, asked the Town to provide the residents of the neighborhood, in writing, a list of what they would expect of them.

The residents, who live in unincorporated Sussex County just outside town limits, have said they would consider being annexed into town for the water access, as long as they were given a clear understanding of what the Town would want from them.

“Why should we be annexed in? You have a lot of unresolved issues right now. I’m not saying we don’t want to be a part of the town, but at the same time, I would like to hear why we should be a part of the town — other than we would have a voice.”

Presley said it would provide the benefits of police and fire protection, along with the other services the Town provides.

“I would say increased property values,” he added. “If you’re hooked up to Town sewer and water, I would say it’s going to increase your property values.

He added that the residents would be able to talk to the council about issues they were having, and see action.

“It’s got to be a two-way street — I agree with you 100 percent. But I think, from the Town’s perspective, we do offer some services. Our taxes are extremely low… Overall, it will be a benefit to you.”

Hayes said that, because of past dealings with the Town, the Delaware Avenue residents are on “high alert.”

Also on Oct. 3, resident Jerry Smith complained that while prisoners were being used by the Town to clean streets, there were rumors going around that they had been told not to go down Reed Street because the residents might throw them cigarettes or drugs.

Presley said there were other streets within the town — not solely Reed Street — where the prisoners were not allowed. He stated that the prison warden had chosen what streets the prisoners could and could not work on.

Bacon said the Town doesn’t even know what days the prisoners will be working until that morning.

Smith also asked why grass growing in Reed Street sidewalks had not been addressed by the Town’s maintenance worker, though other streets were getting attention.

Robbie Murray of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Department said he sprays all around the fire hall once month.

“I guess I could wait for the Town to do it…” he said.

Resident Albert Franklin said it wouldn’t hurt Smith to do it himself.

Resident Barbara Franklin said the railroad track runs behind their home, and she noted the trash that collects along the tracks.

“The railroad company doesn’t pick it up. We do, because we want our yard to look right.”

Councilwoman Pam Davis, who reports on streets, said she would go down to Reed Street and look at the sidewalks and trash situation.