Residents of the Cat Hill section of South Bethany will soon receive surveys regarding possible traffic-calming strategies for the area, which for years has been used as a shortcut from Route 1 to Kent Avenue, leading west from South Bethany.
Some South Bethany residents have expressed concern that only Cat Hill residents would have the opportunity to respond to the survey, arguing that all residents will be affected by any changes that result.
Resident Norm Montigne asked the council at its Friday, April 8, meeting why the survey is not being sent to all town property owners “when everybody in town uses it as a way to get out of town?”
Mayor Pat Voveris said the issue, which has been bandied about for decades, was resurrected because of concerns about a blind curve, rather than general speed issues on Black Gum Drive. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has asked the Town to send out a survey asking whether residents would favor constructing a “speed hump” — either a permanent one or a temporary one — in the 400 block of Black Gum Drive.
Of the 47 property owners on that street, DelDOT requires that 15 percent — or seven owners — respond in order for the results of the survey to be considered. Of those responses, two-thirds would need to support the addition of an 11th “speed hump” in the town in order for DelDOT to move forward.
The draft survey available at the council meeting was dated April 11; with April 29 noted as the deadline for returning them to town hall. “With a show of two-thirds majority support, we will make every effort to install the new speed hump for the upcoming beach seasons,” the letter stated.
Meanwhile, the council also approved the appointment of an eight-member Traffic Committee to address the Cat Hill traffic issues. Members of the committee are: Cat Hill residents Jay Headman, Mike Trentadue, John Jankowski and Steve Farrow; as well as council members Frank Weisgerber and Carol Stevenson, Town Manager Melvin Cusick and Police Chief Troy Crowson. Cusick and Crowson will be non-voting members.
Resident Dennis Roberts objected to the even-numbered composition of the committee, saying it could lead to a stalemate if there is a 3-3 vote on any particular issue. Voveris said she is not concerned about that.
Roberts also objected to Jankowski being named committee chair, but Voveris defended the decision, citing Jankowski’s career as a transportation planner. Jankowski, who was present at the meeting, said he has 38 years of experience in the field and has been a property owner in South Bethany since the 1980s.
Residents had some suggestions of their own for cutting down on traffic through the Cat Hill area, including turning a driveway between tennis courts in South Bethany and the unincorporated community of Middlesex Beach into a paved road.
Crowson said, however, that “I believe that road was lost to us years ago,” adding that he was told that there was, somewhere, a key to open the existing chained gate across the driveway. He said that, theoretically, the driveway could be opened in case of an emergency, but he has never seen such a key, nor has he ever been told of any procedures for opening the driveway.
The traffic committee meetings will be open to the public.