Ocean View project moving right ahead

At the Ocean View Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9, Alan Kercher of Kercher Engineering responded to questions regarding planned changes to the town’s public safety building that were not addressed before last month’s council vote to approve a contract for a portion of the planned renovations.

Those unresolved questions included but were not limited to the subjects of sprinkler heads, computer and phone equipment, HVAC, fire marshal concerns, parking concerns and the lack of a public restroom on the second floor of the building, where the council voted to relocate town administrative functions.

Many of the items, such as proper parking spaces and room for additional people, were answered by Kercher with the statement that, “Neither the proposed use nor maximum occupancy has changed.”

Also, regarding the lack of a public restroom on the second floor, which was originally cut from the design as a cost-saving measure, Kercher said that in that type of building, visitors are considered “customers” and therefore must only have a restroom available that does not exceed being more than 500 feet away. The restrooms on the first floor of the building allow it to comply with that requirement.

Mayor Gordon Wood asked Tuesday about soundproofing the remaining public safety areas of the building – especially around the holding cells. Kercher said he could get an estimate on that to the town in about a week.

The computer and telephone equipment and wiring for relocated town offices, which was not included in the $56,245 bid approved by the council last month on a 3-2 vote, will cost around $22,000, Kercher said, adding that while wiring during construction is often easier, many commercial buildings routinely have wiring done by outside specialty contractors after drywall is completed.

Wood also asked that the contractor install a lock on the entrance that construction workers would use during the renovations, for added security, and he asked that Kent Construction provide Police Chief Ken McLaughlin with the names and birthdates of all constructions workers, for background checks. The simplified checks will either provide a “yes” or “no” for worker eligibility.

“I am trying to avoid delays, not create them,” added Wood.

Councilman Bill Wichmann again expressed dissatisfaction with the way public safety building project was being handled by the council in such lean economic times. He was the lone opposing vote when the council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to sign the contract for the initial renovations, with a no-cost work order to have Kent Construction agree in writing to the background checks for workers.

During the Citizens’ Privilege portion of the meeting Tuesday, many citizens expressed concern over the town moving forward with the public safety building renovations so quickly, considering the current economic slowdown.

Resident Susan White said the decision the council made to go ahead with it was “fiscally irresponsible” and “inappropriate.”

“What’s the hurry?” others asked.

Resident Debbie Cobb advised the council to “get their act together, and stop spending money,” and to think twice about raises and bonuses in such tight times.

Ocean View-Millville police partnership suggested again

Wood on Tuesday presented to the council the idea of creating a joint public-safety department between Ocean View and Millville.

“It’s a long, long, long shot, but this is the time to do it. A lot of good-faith negotiating and serious, unemotional study will be required,” said Wood.

He said if Mayor Don Minyon of Millville was “in” on such a project, he would be, too.

“The ball’s in Minyon’s court,” he added.

The council agreed to hold a special council session to discuss the issue further, depending on the reaction to the idea from Millville’s town council.

Minyon said this week that the Millville town council is always open to suggestions about how to save money and increasing the efficiency of public safety and, once some specific questions are answered, will have a better idea of the next step.

“We would want to be an equal partner and not subservient to Ocean View,” said Minyon. “We are probably going to form an informal committee to talk about logistics, what costs would be to us, reporting, etc. It’s very preliminary, but we are always open to saving money and having better use of the tax dollars.”

Minyon said that, at the same time, Millville council members have been thinking about starting their own police department, so there is somewhat of a rush to start the conversation with Ocean View, to see if a joint project can be worked out first.

Also at the Dec. 9 meeting:

• Finance Director Lou Brubaker said that the town had received $30,000 in transfer taxes for the month of November. The town needs to average about $34,000 each month for the rest of the five months in the fiscal year to meet their goal of $280,000 year-to-date.

• Town Manager Conway Gregory reported that the town is trying to obtain federal funding for projects that are ready to go, such as sidewalks, the Assawoman Canal trail, the renovation of the public safety building, street repaving and a new public works building.

• Wood appointed six additional members to the town’s Long-Range Financial Planning Committee.

• Council approved a collection policy for delinquent property taxes. The issue was brought up at their November meeting, and after people expressed concern over criss-crossing of penalties/and licenses, etc. , council added a sentence at the end of the related policy to say that delinquent water bills, etc., would not prevent the issuance of a town business license.

• Wood presented resident Jeff Lanuza with a certificate of commendation and appreciation for his part in saving a fellow resident’s life back in October. On Friday, Oct. 3, Lanuza was first on the scene, called 911 and administered CPR to Lawrence Shugart, a resident of Bear Trap, until Officer Kristen Miller of the OVPD arrived and shocked Shugart with a defibrillator device. Shugart went on to fully recover, as only 1 in 100 people do from that type of cardiac arrest. Miller last month received the OVPD’s lifesaving awards for her quick response to the incident.

• Valerie Smythe of the State of Delaware Criminal Justice Council presented the council with options for grant funding for a proposed youth program for Ocean View.

The committee assigned to research the idea has not met yet, but with the competitive grant decision process starting in January of 2009, council was advised to speed up the process so they could compete with established youth programs that might be applying as well. They will likely meet in the next week to officially form their committee.