A town known for its beaches, Fenwick Island will celebrate its blue sapphire anniversary this year. The municipality was incorporated on July 8, 1953, so a major celebration is being planned for its 65th anniversary.
Everyone is being invited to a free party on Sunday, July 1, from 1 to 4 p.m., with a D.J., clown, snowcones, grilled food, commemorative prizes, police K-9 demonstration and more.
“It can be a weeklong celebration,” especially with the annual bonfire scheduled for the following Saturday, said Town Manager Terry Tieman. Town Hall is also encouraging local businesses to offer specials or extra celebrations.
Meanwhile, continuous sidewalks are becoming a real possibility along Coastal Highway, from James Street to Delaware Avenue.
Fenwick’s current patchwork of sidewalks sometimes disappears or leads pedestrians onto the highway or into parking lots. The goal is a dedicated, safe walkway to encourage walkers and perhaps reduce vehicle traffic.
Having kickstarted the process again with the Delaware Department of Transportation, Vicki Carmean said she was delighted.
“DelDOT has given its OK for the Town to proceed with plans to install ADA-complaint sidewalks in phases over the next few years. … They kept saying they were out of money, and they have finally found some,” Carmean said on April 27.
The Town Fenwick Island is only responsible for 20 percent of the engineering cost, or about $14,000 of the $56,000 price tag. Town staff are researching grants or Community Transportation Funds for their share. They hope that after plans are approved, Phase I would be constructed within a year.
Fenwick has been burned in decades past, as plans were researched, but the sidewalks never built. This time, engineers can start with those old studies and update the plan from there.
“We’ve had many plans in the past, and they’ve sat on the shelf,” Tieman said. “That is not the intent of this.”
Carmean also requested that more members of the public attend the Pedestrian Safety Committee meetings. She said it’s not time-consuming, but is rewarding.
“DelDOT wants your input,” she said.
In other Fenwick Island Town Council news:
• Parking permits are available daily at the Fenwick Island Police Department.
The town council approved a cost increase for 2018: $2.50 per hour (two-hour minimum); $20 per day; $120 per week; $400 per season; $200 for lost permit replacements; and $400 for additional blue permits (limit of one). Permits are non-refundable.
In 2017, the council approved purchasing a new outdoor automated parking kiosk, but it won’t be installed until later this summer. Until then, permits must be purchased in person. There are currently no parking meters or kiosks.
• Fenwick has been one of many towns to officially oppose the Trump Administration’s proposal for seismic testing and drilling for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean. This month, Mayor Gene Langan reported that the State of New Jersey recently just passed law prohibiting offshore drilling, as well as any pipelines or any infrastructure that would bring oil through the small section of coast the State of New Jersey controls.
“I see lawsuits opening up, but so what? And that’s what they’ve done to try to stop the offshore drilling. As soon as we heard about this, Terri contacted our legislators, and they are working on something similar for the State of Delaware. I thought it was well done, though,” Langan said.
Meanwhile, the State of Delaware is trying to find a $250,000 match to participate in a multi-state study to reduce flooding conditions in the bays, which caused heavy flooding in Hurricane Sandy.
Discussion will continue at the Association of Coastal Towns meeting on May 18 in Lewes.
• Lifeguards will return to duty on Saturday, May 26.
• FIPD Lt. John Devlin was honored for his 15 years of service to Fenwick Island. He is dedicated and hard worker and “literally my right-hand man,” said Police Chief Bill Boyden, despite home-life challenges and taking care of his own family.
• Around 50 people attended the Town’s Earth Day clean-up, which included educational exhibits, door prizes from local businesses and a trash cleanup.
• The town council approved a new policy of hiring a different financial auditor every five years, to shake things up and get a fresh set of eyes on the financial books and policies.
The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Friday, May 25, at 3:30 p.m.
By Laura Walter