Walsh urges vote for council incumbents
As a former town councilman and mayor of Bethany Beach, I am pleased to offer my endorsement to Lew Kilmer, Rosemary Hardiman and Bruce Frye for re-election to the Town Council.
I have known and worked with all three of them on Town issues over a number of years, and I am impressed with the interest, knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication they’ve brought to the job.
In that regard, here is a fair measure of what’s been accomplished and some of what’s being planned through their efforts over the past two years:
• Beach replenishment and dune restoration — Although the Town has a 50-year commitment with the Army Corp of Engineers, annual funding for the project is never a sure thing. The TC (town council) working with our state and federal officials, as well as the newly reformed ACT (Association of Coastal Towns) committee, together, were able to secure funding this year not only for Bethany Beach, but South Bethany, as well as Fenwick Island. ACT consists of all of the coastal towns, as well as Henlopen Acres. All of this work has resulted in our “new” expanded beach!
• Streetscape South Atlantic, Cedarwood and possibly South Pennsylvania. The TC determined from previous pedestrian traffic studies that South Atlantic Avenue is a high-volume pedestrian and biking route that lacks proper sidewalks and bike paths. In addition, Atlantic Avenue itself was in need of repaving.
This past late winter, early spring, sidewalks and bike paths were created, as well as the repaving of the street, for the first time using porous asphalt that will properly drain the street surface after a moderate rain event. In the fall, final touches to South Atlantic Avenue will be made, as well as adding sidewalks and bike paths on Cedarwood. This project was done without the need to borrow money.
Plans are being developed to also update South Pennsylvania Avenue. The proper restriping of the parking spaces along South Atlantic also has an added benefit of creating additional parking spaces.
• Emergency preparedness — Many Town-owned properties, such as the boardwalk, town hall and the Public Works facility, are vulnerable to storm-related damage from both hurricanes and nor’easters. Several years ago, the Town purchased 10+ acres on Blackwater Road and built a facility that can be used as a satellite town hall, as well as a place to garage and store Town vehicles, such as trash trucks, trollies, public work vehicles, etc.
In addition, the Town has purchased from surplus a “state of the art” mobile town hall that could be used as a temporary facility to assist property owners, business owners and residents after a major storm event.
The Town has on retainer a local major contractor to be the first municipality they come to for post-storm recovery efforts.
The Town has also purchased a drone with high-definition camera capability and has trained a Town employee to operate the drone to document and access areas of the Town that are impacted and are not accessible after a major storm event.
Recently, the Town has created a SERF (Storm Emergency Relief Fund) that will be used to repair, restore and, if needed, to rebuild infrastructure damaged after a major storm event. The ultimate goal is to have $3 to $5 million in a “lock box” that can only be used for this purpose and it requires a super majority (five) on the Town Council to use those funds for other purposes.
• Developing Central Park — Plans have been drawn up and approved by the Town Council for the development of the Town Park, located on the corner of Route 1 and Route 26. These plans were evaluated in a town-wide survey, which resulted in an acceptable configuration by the townspeople. The park will be developed over a multi-year period. Currently, the Town is still awaiting final approval from one or more State agencies before bids can be sent out for the start of construction.
• Dinker/Irvin [Cottage] — Working with the Cultural & Historical Committee (CHAC), the Town has acquired the historic Dinker/Irvin [Cottage] that once served as the post office for the Town. The Town paid to have the historic home moved to Town-owned property and is in the process of updating the home, to be used as a public meeting facility, as well as a place to display and store Town-related history.
• Improved technology — Dependable high-speed internet service is essential. Based on experience with Mediacom’s service and the unwillingness of Comcast and others to invest in serving Bethany, the Town is studying other options, such as a public utility, or partnering with another provider. A number of providers have been vetted in this process. Up-front and ongoing costs, as well as provider capability and performance record must be considered in evaluating options to meet this important need.
The credit for these accomplishments should also be shared by Councilmen Jack Gordon, Joe Healy, Jerry Morris, Patrick Shiplee, and the resulting implementation by Cliff Graviet, the town manager, and his very competent staff.
These candidates, in my opinion, if re-elected, will provide the energy, experience and leadership qualities needed to optimize the governmental process that will help to continue to improve the quality of life for the Town of Bethany Beach.
Please join me in re-electing Lew Kilmer, Rosemary Hardiman and Bruce Frye to the Town Council in the upcoming election to be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, from noon to 6 p.m. in the Town Meeting Room, 214 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, Delaware.