Fenwick looks to beef up crowd

Fenwick Island Town Council Member Martha Keller would like more residents and property owners to attend council meetings. And she thinks that effort should start by having the meetings when more people are in town — namely on weekends, instead of on Friday afternoons, as they are currently.

But Keller’s idea, voiced at the town’s “workshop-without-agenda” (WWA) on Saturday, Feb. 12, didn’t draw much support from the other council members present at the meeting. (Council President Peter Frederick was absent.)

Council Member Vicky Carmean noted that personal plans for holiday weekends, in particular, were affected by the time needed for council meetings. Just as property owners were more likely to be in town on those weekends, Carmean said, so also were family members of council representatives and others who might otherwise attend the meetings.

Council Member Harry Haon pointed out that a previous survey conducted on preferred meeting times had yielded a split result, leaving the council meeting times unchanged. Carmean said she didn’t consider that survey very balanced, since it was posted on the doors to the town hall and not widely known by many who live in the town.

The split results of the survey were echoed by Council Member Audrey Serio, who said she believed it would always be difficult to find a time for the meetings that would suit everyone. But, she agreed, holidays were always a bad time. Carmean noted that even town hall was closed on most holidays, limiting staff availability.

No real consensus being expressed to change the existing meeting time, council members moved on to other issues surrounding their planning.

Council Member Chris Clark said he believed the council should plan ahead to avoid setting council meetings on holidays. He said planning the whole year’s calendar to avoid holidays was preferable to making last-minute adjustments to the meeting date a month or so prior to what would have been a holiday meeting.

Serio said she also hoped attendance at committee meetings could be increased if notice of the meetings were posted well in advance of the scheduled time. Often, the only public notice of the town’s committee meetings is on the sign in front of town hall, she said, making it difficult for non-residents to plan to attend.

Discussing plans for upcoming budget meetings and so-called “visioning,” Haon questioned how information on the town’s budget could best be communicated to its citizens. Plans were made to distribute a workshop report on the budget through a mailing in conjunction with the town’s newsletter, as well as possibly including it on the town’s Web site.

A workshop to discuss the budget will be held in the coming weeks. That workshop is held for council discussion, but input of community members is being welcomed.

Traffic lights in the town were also the subject of discussion at the Feb. 12 meeting. The oft-complained-about Dagsboro Street light was again discussed by council members. Carmean said she’d seen it take at least four minutes to change from red to green.

Council Member Theo Brans said he had discussed some of the lights with a member of the state’s highway department, who agreed to look into it. While Serio suggested the town start a petition to have some of the slow lights sped up, Brans requested a few weeks time to see what came of his meeting.

He noted that Police Chief Collette Sutherland had written to state officials about the lights and short pedestrian-crossing periods, apparently to no avail.

Serio informed the council members that she had received some pricing for the proposed upgrading of signs in the town. The figures will be incorporated into the visioning budget for the town, for possible future implementation. One of the factors involved will be a decision between in-house labor and an outside contractor.

State regulatory signs will not be among those replaced, she noted.

Clark said he had heard some requests to possibly purchase the old “blades” from the existing street signs as a collector’s item. The availability of those signs would depend on the final form of the project.

The WWA in Fenwick Island is an informal meeting with no official action taken by council members. However, items addressed at the meeting can come up for formal action at later council meetings.