Fenwick Island officials begin beach planning for 2015

After a close look at advertising, Fenwick Island Town Council agreed to adjust the terms of Lifeguard Stand Sponsorship in October.

By allowing businesses to advertise on lifeguard stands, the Town first made $13,000 in 2013. That dropped to $7,000 this summer.

“The signs are great,” added Town Manager Merritt Burke IV, hearing “no complaints except ‘I don’t have cash in January,’ or it just doesn’t work for everybody in year one.”

“That type of advertising … it’s hard to track,” said Mayor Audrey Serio.

“We hear it’s competitively priced, as well,” Burke said.

Businesses pay $500 or $800 to advertise on lifeguard stands.

“You cannot put [advertising] in the paper for less than $300,” Serio agreed. “I think nobody wants to put out $800 in January. Nobody does.”

The Town will make payments more palatable by lowering the down payment and allowing incremental payments.

“I trust the business community,” Burke said. “I think staff here works with the business community in the spirit of making things work.

“I think we can market a little more aggressively,” Burke added.

“We’ll reevaluate if there’s another 30-percent drop” next year, Councilmember Todd Smallwood said.

Council also agreed to begin accepting bids for the 2015 and 2016 Beach Concession Contract at State Line Beach.

Anyone may bid for a two-year contract, followed by the possibility of two additional one-year extensions.

The longer term contract is meant to make the investment worthwhile, Burke said. That includes setting up a trailer or other sales facility.

They expect to have at least one applicant after the success of this year’s vendor, which paid for an $11,500 contract and made at least $35,000 in profit last year, Burke said.

In other Fenwick Island news:

• Councilmembers want more information on FEMA-mandated regulations that all towns must pass to remain in the National Flood Insurance Program.

“After discussing with some councilpeople and others, Gene [Langan] and I decided that we felt there were too many questions and maybe not enough understanding across the board,” Serio said. “We do have to pass a section by March 15, 2015, so we are on a time frame.”

Delaware Department of Natural Resources will send someone to meet with the town on Nov. 25 at 10 a.m. “who can answer our questions and explain what all these pages say,” so Serio said everyone can understand the requirements, even if they can’t change it.

• Police officer John Devlin was promoted to lieutenant.

“John is the mortar that holds me together. I really do depend on him more than he realizes,” said Chief William Boyden, who said “the benchmark is when I come back [from vacation] that little red light on my phone is not blinking,” since Devlin handles all concerns.

• Online payments are up and running at the Town of Fenwick website. There is a small fee for all credit card payments, online and at Town Hall.

• Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach were selected for a full-scale emergency drill on Nov. 12 and 13.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., an emergency team talks through the fictional situation of a Category 3 hurricane, seven days past the initial event.

“We’ll go live with over 25 agencies in the state to see where we are strong and where we are weak,” Burke said. “I thought we did well during [Hurricane] Sandy, [but there’s always room to improve].”

Although it might not be the most exciting day, Burke said there is much to consider, especially as “I don’t think Category 3 has hit this area head-on. … I’m not sure if we’re entirely prepared, or at the county level or the state level, for that type of storm.”

• Fenwick Flicks was such a summertime success that council unanimously voted to sponsor the event for $800, for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We thought it was very positive. We had 300 to 400 people per event,” said Chamber Executive Director Kristie Maravalli, including the night high winds canceled the actual screening. Additional events added to the movie nights, like children’s Olympics, skim board demos and sandcastle building contests.

“It was really fun. I’m glad to report we were able to run it in the black, which I know was an issue last year,” Maravalli said.

• Through the Community Transportation Trust Fund, State Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. and Rep. Ron Gray are helping fund an extension of sidewalk and ADA-compliant ramp near the Town park and police station.

• Fenwick has created a Business Development Committee, with many of the same members from the (ended) ad hoc Parking Committee.

“We tried it before,” Serio said, but everyone seemed more able to attend Parking meetings, so hopefully the reincarnated business committee will work better.

• The first reading was approved for ordinance Chapter 116, Article II: Special Events. It holds the Town harmless from any claims that may arise from special outdoor events in a commercial. Also, the Town attorney has suggested the town may want to consider civil penalties, which are easier to enforce in civil court than in justice of the peace court.

• The 7th Annual Turkey Trot is scheduled for Nov. 27 at 8 a.m. to benefit the Global Delaware Fund.

• When resident Lynn Andrews asked about highway maintenance, Serio noted that the medians need to be redone. Sposato Landscape Co. was scheduled to do work in late October, December and April of 2015.

Langan shared concern that some trees are too tall for drivers to see pedestrians. Serio noted that some Bethany Beach plantings are “the same way. If you’re turning, you can’t see what’s coming.”

• Fenwick Island will apply for the DNREC Surface Water Matching Planning Grant, which could pay half the cost of a $12,900 engineering contract, planning how Fenwick could improve drainage on W. Dagsboro Street.

• Joseph Dashiell Builders was granted a building permit extension for 1103 Bunting Avenue.

“We had a piece of steel manufactured in Chicago … 12 inches over the building height,” Dashiell said, “a piece of steel that could not be made locally.”

It was shipped back to be replaced.

Council agreed that reasonable progress is being made by a reputable builder, so the Jan. 7, 2015, expiration date was extended by several months.

• November was proclaimed to be Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, recognizing a disease with a 5-year survival rate in the single digits.

• Cannon Street Park has improved drainage since installation of a new pipe and rain garden, reported Bryan Reed, Public Works Supervisor.

• At the beach, Mobi-Mats will be coming down soon for winter.

The next regular Town Council meeting is Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m.