Potential Selbyville water project intriguing

Expansion of Selbyville’s water system was a hot topic at the town council’s April 4 meeting. Residents of outlying areas came to the meeting, seeking information in the wake of a letter sent out by the town. The letter was aimed at gauging those property owners’ interest in obtaining water service from the town.

Mayor Clifton Murray noted that the expansion was being considered in the town’s designated growth areas and that the letter (and any interest it generates) was not a commitment to actually performing or accepting the expansion.

In the end, the fate of any expansion will depend on feasibility studies — for which the town will use the information generated by the letters that were sent.

Engineer Chuck Hauser of Davis, Bowen and Friedel noted that the distance of the interested owners’ properties from the existing service area (and each other), as well as the total percentage of those interested (and in what locations), would help determine the feasibility of any expansion. Council Member Jay Murray also pointed to the impact on the water system’s future design.

Loan approval for expansion has already come in, Jay Murray noted, while Council Member Richard Duncan emphasized that the subject of expansion had come up as a normal part of the process of renewing the town’s water system permit for its service area.

Asked if expansion of the water system to such areas was a precursor toward annexation, Mayor Murray said, “Our ultimate goal is to get people annexed in.” He acknowledged the water-system inquiry letter as a “first step” toward that end.

Town Manager Gary Taylor said the response to the letter had been positive thus far.
In other business at the April 4 meeting, Jay Murray reported that the town’s police department had received 94 complaints, issued 171 tickets and assessed approximately $5,000 in fines during March.

Police Chief Scott Collins noted 10 warnings issued for violations in the town’s overnight parking rules, emphasizing that the department was proceeding into a ticketing phase for ongoing violations. He said officers had noted “a big difference” — and a positive one — in the number of cars parked overnight on the prohibited streets.

Collins also said that compliance with a new one-way-street designation had improved, noting that the change had taken a lot of people by surprise.

Finally, Collins thanked Mountaire Corporation for support for his father’s funeral. Longtime Selbyville police chief Ward “Junior” Collins succumbed to illness in recent weeks. Taylor also noted that a number of donations to the town’s railroad museum had been made in Junior Collins’ honor.

A report from the town’s building inspector that detailed recent code enforcement efforts prompted Clifton Murray to declare, “Good. It sounds like you’ve been busy. The town does look better.”

From the town’s water department, Duncan noted an increase in water use, largely due to the town’s regular flushing of its water system, which took place last month and used approximately 1 million gallons. He apologized to anyone who had discolored water as a result of the flush but noted property owners had been notified in advance.

Hauser reported that aerial targets had been laid out by the water and sewer departments for a planned photographic flyover, with particular attention paid to areas considered for water service expansion. He said plans were also under consideration for removing an out-of-service sludge filter on the sewer system in favor of creating a needed electrical room.

Both water and sewer testing was reported to be within guidelines for the month of March, while Council Member G. Frank Smith III noted that he was still working on getting final numbers for January and February to determine any possible fines against Mountaire for sewage overages.

Smith reported from the town’s annexation committee a recommendation for final annexation of the 9.18 Tingle-Steele property adjacent to the town’s current borders. The council unanimously approved the annexation, with Council Member Clarence Tingle Jr. (a part-owner of the property) abstaining.

Taylor’s administrative report included a notation that the town’s organizing committee for the annual Old Timers’ Day had met for the first time this year and dealt with requests to add additional vendors to the makeup from the previous year. Also new for the 2005 Old Timers’ Day is a car show and a plan to end the festivities at the town’s new railroad museum.

Taylor noted that donations of artifacts for the museum have kept Town Clerk Virginia Pepper busy with cataloging duties.

Highway beautification efforts are set to start in the town “when it stops raining,” Taylor said. But he reported that the town’s new holiday decorations had been ordered, with plans to expand the decorated area as much as possible along Routes 54 and 17, under the limitations of electrified utility poles.

Taylor noted that some potential sites for the decorations had been eliminated due to low-hung power lines that reduced the height level at which the decorations could be hung — risking damage from tractor-trailers driving through those locations.

Council members agreed that a Saturday would be an ideal choice for the town’s planned spring clean-up day, with Taylor receiving indications from the trash collection company in question that it might indeed be the only day upon which they had time to schedule a town-wide pickup.

The council members again agreed that the pick-up should take place on a single day and from property owners’ yards — rather than a central location — to ensure a limited amount of refuse and to avoid again using the town’s fenced yard, which is currently promised for storage related to beautification efforts.

The town will use a special mailing to provide notice to property owners about the final date and details for the clean-up day.

During the public-comment portion of the meeting, Ron Witte and Everett Brown of Mountaire Corporation reported that “March went real well,” with “phenomenal numbers” from the poultry plant’s sewage system with only four days left to be reported for the month.

Regarding previous assertions that the plant’s Friday sewage flow is generally lower than that of other days of the week, they pointed to a series of 15 readings in which 40 percent of the Friday numbers were lower than those on Thursdays, generally with a 2- to 3-gallon-per-minute difference.

Friday readings that exceeded the Thursday numbers were generally over by 20 to 30 gallons, they noted. “Essentially, it’s the same as other days,” Witte concluded. He did note that the plant remains within allowed standards, generally producing between 660,000 and 700,000 gallons, versus the approximately 850,000 gallons allowed.

The Friday numbers have been a source of contention, as the plant’s typical method of calculating its flow doesn’t include them, in accordance with a standard 48-hour testing period.

The town’s previous sewage measurements also did not rely on the Friday numbers but has since been changed to include them, resulting in the search for a consistent method of holding the plant accountable for sewage overages.

These numbers are all under the plant’s current system, which is expected to be upgraded with a new pre-treatment method in the near future. Witte said a cost estimate for that new system was due next week, moving the project forward toward implementation.

Mayor Murray declared the progress and the expected March numbers “good news.”

Kids Art Month organizer and Selbyville Community Club member Lucille Creel took the opportunity of the April 4 meeting to thank the council members and community for their support for the March show and celebration.

The show drew 310 entries, with full participation from Phillip C. Showell Elementary School, as well as students at Selbyville Middle School, the Southern Delaware School of the Arts and Indian River High School, she noted.

Creel said financial support from the town’s business community had allowed organizers to award 46 winners — first- through third-places for each of the schools and grades which had entries. All students entering also received a certificate.

She further noted that response to the art by the business community had been warm, with plans already being made for the 2006 edition of the show.

The top winner in the show had been “walking taller” since his win, Creel said, particularly proud that he had gotten a chance to shake hands with the town’s mayor. For his part, Mayor Murray said some of the art in the show “would blow your mind. There were some very talented artists in there. I enjoyed it.”

Creel also questioned whether town officials had considered the issue of handicapped access to the town’s post office. She also noted that using the nearby corner mailbox at the location essentially required drivers to park illegally. Creel told council members she was ready to tackle both problems to the best of her ability.

Collins noted that police officers were not in the habit of enforcing parking regulations for those dropping off mail in the box, while Clifton Murray said the issue of access had been brought up before and discussed with postal officials. Jay Murray said their response had been that handicapped access would not be provided and was not required until significant renovations were done at the location.

Before adjourning to an executive session to address the Maryland-Delaware Railroad easement, council members also voted unanimously to donate $1,000 to the Ocean View Leisure Center. It was noted that many Selbyville residents use the existing center, with the construction project expected to call for $1.1 million in funds.