It’s Earth Day once again (April 22), and various governmental representatives stopped by the new Town Hall in Ocean View a week prior, to celebrate the town’s recent financing agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Ocean View has managed to procure a Rural Development loan and grant to cover construction costs for a new central water system.
Local Troop 280 Cub Scouts presented the colors and, as USDA’s Marlene Elliot explained, the department’s mission to help rural communities was “for all of us, but really for the scouts, their classmates and friends — tomorrow’s generation.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) followed Elliot, remarking, “Based on the traffic I saw coming down through Rehoboth, I’d say this might be the last rural-type grant that Ocean View gets.”
Castle empathized with town residents who’d been loath to give up their well water, having gone through the same experience at his summer home on the “Forgotten Mile” (between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach).
It was tough when something that had always been free started carrying a price tag, Castle said, but he applauded Ocean View for doing the right thing. According to Castle, the carefully planned approach was better than trying to throw together central water systems piecemeal, after development forced the issue.
He said providing sufficient water access, pressure and quality, and consistent testing, were part of what Earth Day was all about. Regarding his work on Capitol Hill, Castle noted, “You start to realize how every decision you make has an environmental impact.”
He recognized town residents would have enjoyed the oversized check presentation more if the grant and loan amounts were switched, but said the government didn’t give out much money for such projects anymore.
“The federal government isn’t in these kinds of programs as much as it used to be, so we’re delighted to be able to make this announcement,” Castle said. “I think projects like this are extremely worthwhile, and I will tell you, I hope it doesn’t stop here. We’re constantly looking for different areas we can help, with similar circumstances.”
Ocean View Mayor Gary Meredith recognized fellow council members in attendance and pointed out some of the added benefits of the coming water system.
“This is a great day for Ocean View,” he said. “This municipal water system will ensure the health and safety of the citizens, and we’re really anxious to start moving toward its completion.
Meredith spoke of high nitrate levels in wells around Ocean View, and said not everyone tested often enough. In addition, he noted the fire hydrants the system would support.
The USDA has awarded financing to the town of Ocean View in the amount of $3.8 million (4.25 percent over 40 years), plus a $1.13 million grant. The new water system will serve 986 lots around town.
Kevin Smith, representing Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Mike Lally, representing Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), state Sen. George “Howard” Bunting (20th District) and state Rep. Gerald Hocker (38th District) also attended the celebration.