Water service and annexation issues continue to be frustrating for some Frankford residents and the town council alike, and the two issues were raised again at the council’s regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.
The duel issues bubbled up during an update on an ongoing discussion between the Town and Nino D’Orazio, who has been considering annexing into the town about one acre on the outskirts of town. There are currently 11 mobile homes on the property and a total of 14 lots.
Although D’Orazio has not yet applied for annexation, he has on several occasions discussed with town officials the possibility of hooking up to town water. Instead of 14 separate connections, D’Orazio has expressed a desire to have just one meter for the whole property — an idea that town officials said has them concerned.
Improvements and expansion to the town’s water system are in the planning stages, but funding issues continue to be a frustration.
Council Vice President Greg Welch said, “We’re waiting for the USDA’s proposal to us for funding, and then we can apply for additional grants.”
Welch said USDA officials have told the Town that the funding proposal has stalled because the agency is understaffed.
Welch said the Town received a grant of $850,000 in 2009 “for a fix of the water plant, but it didn’t really fix it. It was all to fix the non-functioning water plant that was brand new and dysfunctional. It didn’t produce any water,” he said.
Currently, the Town is waiting for response from the USDA on the results of a study of what the water plant needs to function properly and to serve the community’s needs, according to Welch.
Wesley Hayes Jr., who lives on Delaware Avenue — which has been on-again, of- again for at least 20 years in regards to annexing into the town and being connected to town water — expressed frustration with the process, or lack of thereof.
“We’re coming into a situation that we tried to resolve 20 years ago, and we’re still on the same page,” Hayes said. “I’m not saying it’s your fault or anything like that,” he told the council, since the current council did not set up the situation. “But you’re my go-to person now,” Hayes said.
“I feel like we should be grandfathered in some kind of way, for X-amount of years, to be honest with you,” Hayes said.
The council voted in July to raise water rates from $8.75 to $12.68 per 1,000 gallons and to add a $50-per-month user fee for out-of-town users.
Hayes said he believes connecting to the town water service has the support of most Delaware Avenue residents, but that the residents need more details on proposed town water service before they agree to move forward. He said he feels the Town owes the Delaware Avenue residents some sort of special arrangement, to make up for all the years of delays.
“The Town needs to come up with something a little bit different for Delaware Avenue,” Hayes said. He did not have any suggestions as to what that arrangement might be.
Meanwhile, the water plant continues to experience operational issues.
“I don’t think it’s gotten better,” Welch said. “I think it’s gotten worse, and we’re trying to dig ourselves out from where we’re at.”
In other business, the town council on Monday:
• accepted a bid for a new sign in front of the town hall, from Rogers Sign Co. for $4,988, which also includes lettering for the front of the town hall; and
• accepted a bid from Delmarva Document Solutions of Salisbury, Md., for the lease of a Xerox copier for $76.90 per month. The town office’s current copier is “from the ’90s,” according to Town Council Treasurer Velicia Melson.
By Kerin Magill