Millsboro town hall renovations discussion focuses on abestos

As preparation begins for town hall building improvements, Millsboro Assistant Town Manager Matt Schifano reported this week that the Town had not only received a $40,000 energy grant but had secured another $21,000 in reallocated funds.

At the Feb. 7 council meeting, Schifano said the money would go to replacing the current buildings lighting entirely, prior to it undergoing renovations. He added the lighting replacement will cost approximately $57,000, and that will cover not only the bulbs but also the fixtures and labor. The lights are expected to be installed by the end of the month.

Following the installation of the lighting, renovations will begin on the building. However, abatement of asbestos within the building will need to be completed before the first phase of the renovations, scheduled to begin in April, can begin.

“There have been a couple different options thrown around,” Schifano explained. “One would be to abate the whole building. Another is to abate sections where we think tiles would potentially come up.”

Town Manager Faye Lingo said that total abatement would include the tile flooring in the main hall, lobby, bathroom, small meeting rooms and the carpeted areas. Mike Bauman from Davis, Bowen & Freidel, the town’s engineering firm, added that, in some areas, asbestos would be in the adhesive used on the tiles, as opposed to the tiles themselves.

Schifano stated that if the council decided to go for a partial abatement and asbestos was happened upon during construction, it would shut down construction until it could be properly removed.

“That’s the fear, that you have the potential for a lawsuit or somebody gets sick.”

Schifano said the estimated cost to abate the building, approximately 11,000 square feet in size, could range from $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the method used.

Environmental Testing, he said, has a flat fee of $3,500 to design and engineer the abatement, as well as handling the bidding out of the whole process. He said that, on top of that cost, they would charge an hourly wage that the company charges to monitor the abatement and the Town would also have to pay for the actual abatement, following a winning bid.

“Why can’t you ask the contractors to do the abatement and do the abatement all at one time?” asked area contractor Gary McCrea.

“It has to go through engineering. Environmental specialists have to engineer the removal of the tile,” explained Bauman. “It’s Delaware law. You can’t just throw it into a landfill. That’s what this company will do. To make sure that everything is taken care of that you need to.”

“I don’t think it’s necessary to abate anything where we’re not having construction,” said Councilman Greg Hastings.

Councilman Tim Hodges suggested the council look into getting more estimates for abatement. He also asked if Bauman could look into state law to see if it was required that the abatement be engineered.

The council will review Bauman’s findings and continue to discuss the abatement process at a future council meeting.

Also discussed at this week’s meeting a letter the Town received last month from J&J Powerwashing Inc., requesting to purchase town water for commercial use.

“Unless I’m mistaken, one of our resources is selling our wonderful water. So, why wouldn’t we?” asked Hastings.

Lingo asked, if council were to approve to sell the town’s water commercially, at what rate would they like to sell it?

Hodges asked what the Town’s practice has been in the past. Lingo said that the Town had sold water to businesses out of town at double the in-town rate. She added that the town frequently receives requests to purchase water for commercial use.

Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox suggested that the Town also consider the use of Town staff when water purchases would occur. Schifano suggested the council consider a fee rate of, for example, $20 per fill-up plus the cost of the gallons purchased.

“Our man would have to be there to turn it on, until it fills, and then shut it off,” added Hastings of town staff time that would be used.

Schifano asked council to consider charging businesses for the quantity of water, by the size of the water tank they fill, as town workers would not have a reliable way to accurately measure how full a tank is when it comes to town to be filled.

“I would say some tanks will be labeled with how many gallons are already in there and some won’t. I think we ought to be fair,” said Hodges, adding that he thought the town should estimate the amount of water being taken, as opposed to the size of the tank being filled.

“Going by tank size… I think that’s all we can do,” said Mayor Robert Bryan. “I think we are being fair.”

Councilwoman Irene Keenan speculated that businesses would be coming to purchase water for convenience, as opposed to price.

Schrider-Fox also reminded council that they did not have to sell the water for commercial use, as its primary use is to service the citizens of the town.

“You reserve the right to say no. That just does away with the idea that later someone can say, ‘Well, you let him do it yesterday and now you’re not going to sell it to me.’ Well, if you have a water demand issue, for your citizens in town, that has to trump any decision to sell the water commercially.”

The council decided to table the issue until their March 5 meeting.

The Fresh Garden Market will be returning to Millsboro this spring, it was announced this week. It is now under the direction of the Millsboro Downtown Partnership (MDP), a nonprofit organization focused on supporting, creating and promoting revitalization of the downtown while preserving its historical significance.

“We have handed over the fresh garden market that we started last year to this group, and they are going at it full-scale,” said Lingo.

The market will be held on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. June 7 through Sept. 13, on the lot located directly next to the Dairy Queen on Main Street.

MDP requested the Town allow them to place a sign on town property, by the railroad tracks, that would promote the market throughout the season and to place temporary signs around town on Thursdays.

MDP also requested the Town waive the application fees for the conditional use for the farmers’ market.

Bryan said he was concerned that waiving fees for the market could suggest that council was showing favoritism to the group, as others who hold events in the town, such as the Millsboro Cruz-in cruisers, have to pay fees.

“It’s almost like making a donation to you,” he said.

Lingo asked Bryan to consider waiving the fees this year, as the market is under new management and is being held in a new location on a new day, and to revisit the fee request for future years next year.

The council voted 6-0 to waive fees and allow temporary signage for the Fresh Garden Market’s 2012 season.

In other town news:

• The Millsboro town council voted 6-0 to approve amending the town’s zoning code to include a definition of an assisted-living facility, to allow for such facilities to be a permitted use in the medium-density residential zoning district, or in other zoning districts within the town.

• The council voted 6-0 to allow Peninsula Crossing to dedicate their utilities to the town.

• The council voted 6-0 to approve the preliminary site plan for Millwood Industrial Park.

• Millsboro Police Chief John Murphy II requested to use $552 from Sussex County’s police grants to pay for himself and another officer to attend “Inside the Tape,” a training refresher seminar to be held in Ocean City, Md. Council approved the grant application request with a 6-0 vote.

• It was announced that the Millsboro Fire Company ranked as the fourth-busiest organization out of 21 companies in the county for fire calls in 2011. The company ranked sixth-busiest for EMS calls.

• On Feb. 11, the Millsboro Fire Company will be working with Peninsula Dental for their Annual Give Kids a Smile event, which offers free dental care and education to those who underprivileged. The company will bring their equipment for the kids to get firetruck rides and see demonstrations.