Frankford council appoints Welch to vacant seat

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Greg Welch was sworn in to the Frankford Town Council by Mayor Joanne Bacon last week.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Greg Welch was sworn in to the Frankford Town Council by Mayor Joanne Bacon last week.Frankford resident Greg Welch was appointed to the Frankford Town Council at a special meeting held last week.

Welch and fellow resident Dora Bell-Isler both voiced interest in the vacant seat left by Elizabeth Carpenter when she resigned from the council in December. Welch was appointed by a 3-0 vote of the council. He will complete Carpenter’s term, which is set to expire in 2017.

Following the unanimous vote, Welch was sworn in by Mayor Joanne Bacon and joined the council for the rest of the special meeting.

The Town’s annual council election is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6, for the seats currently filled by Charles Shelton, Pam Davis and Marty Presley. At the Jan. 24 special meeting, it was announced that four candidates — Davis, Presley, Skip Ash and Dawn Beck — had all filed to run in the election. Shelton, who had not attended a council meeting since Presley’s and Carpenter’s appointments by two of the then three remaining council members, did not file to run for his seat.

Council approves feasibility
study for Delaware Avenue water project

Also during the special meeting, the council voted 4-0 to move forward on a feasibility study so the Town can receive federal and state funding for water projects to include Delaware Avenue, an area of unincorporated Sussex County that abuts the town and whose residents have been working to get central water to their properties since the 1990s.

“The Town has been working with USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the state to get some funding to do various water projects in town, Delaware Avenue being one of them,” explained Town Engineer Kyle Gulbronson of AECOM. “To be eligible for the USDA funding, you have to do a feasibility study/preliminary engineering report.”

Gulbronson said the study would cost an estimated $30,000, which would be covered by a grant from the USDA. He said AECOM could begin work on the draft immediately, with hopes of completing it within three to four months.

“Then we can apply to the USDA for the funding and get the funding. So, later this summer, we should be able to some commitment from the USDA that the funds are available to do the projects,” he explained, noting that, once funding is available, the Town would be able to bid out the project.

The feasibility study will look at multiple projects throughout the town, and identify and prioritize them, as well as give an estimated cost of the work.

“There are checkbooks out there willing to write the Town a check, but we don’t know how much yet, so we have to prioritize and find out how much it’s all going to cost,” said Gulbronson.

“I think this is really good. I think it is a step forward, given the history behind all of this,” said resident Jerry Smith. “I think the council is under the right footing here.”

“I think it’s win-win,” said Bacon.

The council also heard a presentation from Steven Lewandowski of CABE Associates, regarding approval of a grant application for an asset management plan for the Town’s water system.

“An asset management plan is an evaluation of your system — your water system, in this case. It evaluates the system, inventories all the assets in the system,” Lewandowski explained. “There are four components to a water system: Reduction, which are your wells that draw the water out of the ground. There’s the treatment, which is your treatment plant. Then there’s storage, which is the elevated storage tank, and then there’s the distribution mains.”

Lewandowski said the plan would help the Town be more “predictive and proactive” in making repairs and maintaining the system.

“This program is being offered as grant funding through the Office of Drinking Water and, frankly, it’s a rare opportunity,” he said. “It’s 100 percent grant funding, that is being offered by the Office of Drinking Water for municipalities in the state to develop an asset management plan.

“What they’re doing is incentivizing municipalities in the state to take this proactive and predictive approach to maintenance of their assets in the town… and incentivizing one by offering grant funding and also offering a rebate of half the interest rate.”

In the future, he explained, if the Town were to apply for funding from the State Revolving Fund, it will be eligible for a reduction of half the interest rate. If the interest is 4 percent, the Town could receive a deduction of 2 percent.

Lewandowski said the plan would compile any maps and review records the Town has related to water plant and create a GIS map, that would lay out all the pipes in the town and their sizes and create a database that is tied to the map.

“So the Town can click on any pipe in town, and a database will come up that will have the attributes of that pipe,” he explained.

Lewandowski said the five-year program would provide the Town with mapping and software.

The council voted 4-0 to approve the resolution.