Fenwick receives recognition as a ‘healthy community’

Fenwick Island Town Manager Merritt Burke IV announced last week that the Town had received recognition from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell for their efforts in creating and maintaining a healthy community.

Burke noted that the state has 57 municipalities, of which 15 had applied for a grant from the Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating & Active Living.

“We were one of five to be awarded,” said Burke.

The Town received a Delaware Healthy Community award of special merit for 2014 and a special tribute from Markell.

“The special recognition for a small municipality category recognizes communities that perform exemplary community health promotion work but have fewer resources than larger municipalities,” read Burke from the tribute, adding that other recipients of the award in 2014 were Newark, Smyrna and Dover. “They are to be praised for their efforts to take a prevention driven effort.”

Burke said the Town’s application included the Town’s 2013 no-smoking ordinance for the Town’s two parks and public beach, as well as the Town’s Environmental Committee and Parks Committee.

“Your community is very active, and I want to congratulate everyone here, including staff and council on this award,” said Burke. “It’s a very important award.”

At the May 23 town council meeting, the council also discussed possibly altering Chapter 116, Peace and Good Order, in town’s code, relating to special events permits for events on commercial property.

Councilman William Weistling Jr. said the code currently only regulates events on public streets and beaches. He said the Town had received a recommendation from Fenwick Island Police Sgt. John Devlin that the council might want to consider adding events on commercial property that exceed 75 people.

“That would require them to also take out a permit,” Weistling explained. “What that normally requires is that a police officer would be available, and we would charge the businesses according to our Special Events Rules & Regulations, $100 per hour for police coverage.”

Weistling said he wanted to hear what the council thought of the idea before it was sent to the Town’s Charter & Ordinance Committee.

Councilman Todd Smallwood said he was wary of putting any financial pressure on the town’s businesses.

“I just don’t want to put any more pressure on our businesses right now. They’ve had such a hard winter and are trying to make some money.”

Weistling said the Town could choose to assess the fee per hour, to make it more affordable for businesses to pay.

“The state police don’t charge that much,” added Councilwoman Diane Tingle.

Smallwood said the Town would also have to look at the definition of a “special event.”

“Like Pottery Place has their Columbus Day sale — is that in there? If Dairy Queen introduces a new Blizzard, I consider that a ‘special event.’”

Weistling said he believed the primary concern was the traffic on Route 1.

“I think it’s a good idea just from a safety standpoint,” added Roy Williams.

The council agreed to have the chapter of the code reviewed by the Charter & Ordinance Committee.

In other Fenwick Island news:

• Through the Department of Defense, the Fenwick Island Police Department will be given a brand-new military-surplus vehicle, with a value estimated at $78,000, to be used for emergencies.

Police Chief William Boyden noted that emergency personnel, including the Delaware National Guard, had had trouble reaching some homes in the town during Hurricane Sandy. This vehicle, he said, should enable emergency personnel to traverse the town during another such event, should one occur.

• The Fenwick Island Beach Patrol will be on-duty this weekend and next, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and begin guarding the beaches full-time on June 14.

• The Town’s annual Bonfire will be held on July 5, with a rain date of July 6.

• Resident Bob Clark told the council he was concerned about curb cuts in front of the Ropewalk restaurant. “I almost broke a leg in front of Ropewalk,” he said. “I think it’s dangerous.”

The council said that the restaurant and the Delaware Department of Transportation are aware of the issue and have agreed to fix it in the fall, following the summer season. “Are they waiting for someone to break their face before they fix that?” asked Najib Nadi. “They’re looking for a big lawsuit.”

• Weistling reminded residents that the summer season is here and to be extra-careful when out and about in town.

“Last Saturday, one of our residents was struck by a car, on her bicycle. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt… Stay alert on the highway. I hope it’s not something we’ll be seeing on a regular basis,” he added.