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Lewes, Delaware
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February 24, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 24, 2006

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18 - CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, Feb. 24 - Monday, Feb. 27, 2006 9 Merchant's doors open to their customers By Henry J. Evans Jr. Cape Gazette staff As heavy equipment scoops out huge slices of Second Street in Lewes, merchant Kelley Layton isn't the least bit ruffled by work going on just outside her shop's front door. "I think these guys are doing a great job. When I came in this morning and saw what I was see- ing instead of dread it was like, OK, we're one step closer to get- ting this behind us and moving on," said Layton, co-owner of Habersham Peddler Interiors. The city's Second Street revi- talization project is running on schedule for completion in May, say engineers. As contractors make use of mostly favorable February weath- er and merchants like Layton make the best of having a con- struction site only a few feet from the sales counter. "These guys are doing a great job of opening the street up at nighttime and creating as little mess as possible," Layton said. Layton said she's one of those who thinks advertising about con- struction scares people away. "People who were here for Christmas knew this was coming Jim Collins is a clerk and Carol Garner is the manager at R & L Liquors on Second Street in Lewes. Garner said the revitalization project has had little effect on sales. and said, 'let's stay away from Lewes,'" she said. Resident Project Representative Helen Perez of George Miles & Buhr engineering, said utility work is nearing completion as conduits and bases for streetlights are installed. Perez said Second Street has been graded from Market Street to Shipcarpenter Square in prepara- tion for the 10-inch layer of grav- el and three inches of hot mix that will form the street's new surface. She said curbing is being installed on one side of the street from Shipcarpenter Square to R&L Liquors. "On the other side of the street they've got quite a bit of the resi- Kelley Layton, co-owner of Habersham Peddler Interiors on Second Street in Lewes, says store sales have suffered in February, but rebuilding the street is a worthwhile project with expected inconveniences. dential curbing in and they're now working on Mulberry Street," Perez said. Carol Garner, R & L Liquors manager, said the project has not significantly affected business. "For January our business was ahead of last );ear. We're accessi- ble through the back way and that's something that's been good for us," Garner said. Garner said she's remaining upbeat about the project because turning negative isn't helpful. "We needed to have it done. I think it's going to look wonderful and I think we're going to do more business downtown when it's done," Garner said. She said some Second Street Shop owners have chosen not to open through the week. "I think that's a mistake. I'm on the sales and promotion commit- tee for the revitalization and we're doing a lot to bring business downtown," she said. Layton said although her shop's sales are down by about 15 per- cent compared to this time last year, she's can't blame it all on construction. "This is a slower time of year. The weekends have been active and we've had a couple of good weekends that help make up for how slow it's been during the week," Layton said. Up the street at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Henry J. Evans Jr. photos Construction on Lewes' Second Street revitalization prej- eet is more than 40 percent complete. Contractors have started installing curbing in sections of the project and the installation of concrete pavers in the residential area could begin next week. manager Maureen Redwine is busy wrapping dark-chocolate hearts. "Everybody loves chocolate. We haven't been hurting for busi- ness at all," said Redwine. She said the store's mail order and special order business isn't affected by construction and foot traffic through the door has been good. "When it snows and is muddy Maureen Redwine, manag- er of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Second Street in Lewes, said chocolate lovers haven't had a problem finding their way into the store despite major construction. people complain a little bit but they're still here," Redwine says. She said this year's sales are on target. "Weather can be more of a hin- drance than construction," Redwine said. Weather and the progress of construction will be factors that could make the Lewes and Delaware 375th Anniversary cele- bration in April a bit muddy. Perez said installation of con- crete pavers that will make up the street's sidewalks should begin next week in the residential sec- tion. But before removal of a brick sidewalk and paver installa- tion makes its way to Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, engineers must design and have installed a system to stabilize the church's 229-year- old wall fronting Second Street. The church is scheduled to be the place where Dutch and Delaware dignitaries will gather for the first meeting of the General Assembly to take place in the city since 1781. "If you wear appropriate shoes it should be fine. I would recom- mend something other than pumps, Perez said. 9 Neighbor says she doesn't "The fence has been very carefully "I'm distressed that the fence will rise designed to fit the character of the home," above ours. It will be overwhelming," like what will be built Valenti said. O'Erasmo told the commission. She said Freeman's home is unique in a communi- the height of the Freemans' lighthouse By Henry J. Evans Jr. ty full of unique homes. Many are, in part, home with the addition of the fence, makes Cape Gazette staff constructed from historic structures, the property an imposing presence in the A fence doesn't always make happy The Freeman home was formerly theneighborhood. neighbors, the Lewes Historic P servation Mispillion Lighthouse, built in 1873. It The Freemans' fence will be about a foot Commission (HPC) learned after approving once sat at the confluence of the Mispillion taller than D'Erasmo's. The difference in a request for placement of a white-stained River and Cedar Creek near Milford before height won't be visible from the Freeman cedar fence around a Shipearpenter Square the Freemans moved it to Shipearpenter side of the fence, but D'Erasmo would see home. Square. the height difference. The HPC on Tuesday, Feb. 21, unani- Last year the Freemans topped the struc- Freeman said of the purpose of the fence mously approved a request by John and ture with a reproduction of the lighthouse's where it abuts neighboring property is to Sally Freeman for the installation of a fence lantern. The original had been lost to time block the view. "There's a reason it's called at the Freemans' 13 Shipcarpenter Square and damage, a privacy fence," he told the commission. home. In front of the home, the Freemans' pick- Freeman,a real estate developer, is chair- John Freeman and Christopher Valenti of et fence will be 34-inches high and will man of the Shipcarpenter Square communi- JB Landscaping told the commission the include a gate. The fence will be 6 feet in ty's architectural review committee. He fence is in keeping with the Victorian-era height where it abuts the fence of neighbor said the panel approved the 6-foot fence home it would surround. Martha D'Erasmo. after rejecting his initial request for an 8- foot fence. Neighbors also objected to Freeman's plan to have the cedar fence painted with a whitewash finish. "Paint has been here since the beginning of time. It is part of the historic character of buildings that they be painted," he told the commission. HPC Vice Chairman Jim Richmann, who chaired the meeting, said the fence would change the character of the streetseape. Richmann asked commission members whether the fence paint issue was important one. Commissioners concluded paint and colors choices were not within their purview. Freeman said the fence would be manu- factured in Maine and painted at the facto- ry. "We feel it's most unfortunate. They (the Freemans) had no communication with neighbors," D'Erasmo said after the deci- sion allowing the fence.