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Lewes, Delaware
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February 28, 1997     Cape Gazette
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February 28, 1997
 

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10 - CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, February 28- March 6, 1997 State, DRBA officials make field trip to Breakwater Light By Dennis Forney A group of officials represent- ing Delaware's parks, historical sites and the Delaware River and Bay Authority planned to motor out to the Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse on Friday, Feb. 28. Their goal, according to Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation Director Charles Salkin, is to inspect the 1885 structure that has been declared surplus by the federal govern- ment's General Services Adminis- tration (GSA). Delaware and the River and Bay Authority have both expressed an interest in taking over ownership and maintenance of the structure. "We want to go out there with some technical people to see what we can do," said Salkin on Wednesday this week. "We want to make sure it's not a pig in a poke. We need to see the struc- ture up close and personal and de- cide whether to move ahead and make application to the federal government for it. It's probably the most popular landmark in the state." Dan Griffith, director of the State Department's Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, said Delaware's Secretary of State, Ed Freel, wrote to the GSA expressing Delaware's interest in the lighthouse through the His- toric Monument Statute which would allow transfer of the struct- ure to the state at no purchase cost. "We have a few weeks to get an application in," said Griffith. "The field trip will give us an idea about the condition and accessi- bility of the lighthouse. I think it's pretty stable. The Coast Guard did some major work on the structure in 1992, inside and out, and then decommissioned it as an aid to navigation in 1994. It's officially listed as an historic monument." Griffith said if Delaware moves ahead with acquisition, "we would be getting an object. "The breakwater itself belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers so whatever use we would make of the structure would have to be done in coordination with the Army Corps." DRBA's interest strong Mike Owens, director of opera- tions for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, said the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA), which operates the ferries, is very much interested in the structure. "We still use the lighthouse as a navigational aid when we come in and go out and it's exciting for our passengers to see the light. "We've talked to the secretary of state's office and told them we'd like to own and maintain the structure. The state must apply for the building but it's right in our back yard. It would be no problem for us to maintain it and keep it looking nice, there for everyone to enjoy. We see it as a cooperative effort. The state's budget's always tight. It's really a no-brainer for us. We have a work boat and a sizable mainte- nance crew on both sides of the bay. We could go with our exist- ing manpower and begin main- taining the structure immediate- ly." Charles Salkin said there's also been discussion of putting the structure on the inventory of the Division of Parks and Recreation since it is so close to Cape Hen- lopen State Park. Some of the questions about just who will control one of Delaware's most photographed structures may be answered fol- lowing the Friday visit. Angle Moon photo The Delaware Breakwater lighthouse, built in 1885, sits at the east end of the Delaware Breakwater which dates back to 1828 and was commissioned by a letter from President John Quincy Adams. Rehoboth police officers to join Teamsters following vote By Rosanne Pack With an election last week, the Rehoboth Beach Police Department became the first in Delaware to become affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). Of the 17-member force of officers, 15 voted for representation by the Team- sters; one voted for representation by the Fraternal Order of Police and one voted for no representation. The election took place Feb. 21. Speaking for the Rehoboth Beach offi- cers, Sgt. Michael Corbin said that every- one in the department is pretty upbeat after the election. He said that a representative of the union has already met with the officers, and a rough draft of a proposed contract has been developed. "We met with everyone in the department who could sit down with us a few days ago," Corbin said. "We wanted input from as many people as possible. Input is very important so that we can address as many concerns as possible and work into our con- tract negotiations." The sergeant said that it is not appropriate to go into the particulars of the rough draft of the contract, but he said issues include promotion policies, pension, retirement and compensation for jobs performed. He said Rehoboth Beach officers have done a lot of research into pay and benefits of police in departments in other towns approximately the size of Rehoboth Beach to gauge their contract issues. "We've even gone into the Internet to contact other departments," he said. "Of course, Billy Mendenall has been a great help. He has worked with departments all up and down the country." Mendenall is the international representa- tive of public employees division of the IBT. He said he will continue to advise the Rehoboth officers, and will be part of the negotiating team when the department sits down with representatives of the city. "We will have a completed contract by next week," Mendenall said. "Then we will name a time when we can all meet. With a new contract, it is hard to tell how long it will take to come to agreement with the city. "In this case, wages are not the main is- sue; benefits and fights are primary issues. What it comes down to is that decisions must be made for the good of the citizens." Mendenall and Paul Houck of IBT Local 326 in New Castle County will join which ever Rehoboth Beach officers are chosen to represent the department when negotiations open with the city. Greg Ferrese, Rehoboth Beach city man- ager, said it has not been determined who will comprise the city's negotiating team. He said Commissioner Jack Hyde is the chair of the personnel committee, and he and the mayor will decide who will repre- sent the city. "The officers are covered by the Police Bill of Rights, and our negotiations will be based on that," Ferrese said. "As far as any changes, I don't know what is ahead. I hope ve can all bargain in good faith." Ferrese said that the city must also keep other city employees in mind when negoti- ating with the police officers. "We have a total of 69 full-time employ- ees, and 17 will be covered in the negotia- tions with the Teamsters. We have to look out for everyone; and we can't give away the city." Mendenall said that he looks forward to working with the Rehoboth Beach officers. He said he was a police officer for 15 years and has been negotiating contracts for pub- lic employees for 31 years. "It's important that these officers have an impartial grievance procedure, and impar- tial promotion process," he said. "These of- ricers come on for a career, not for a lark; their working conditions have an input into their way of life, their families." Mendenall said police officers pay twice their hourly wage in monthly dues. An offi- cer making $10 an hour will pay $20 a month. He said the matter dues for the two offi- cers who did not vote for joining the IBT will be included in the contract negotia- tions. Public still has plenty to say about Sussex Land Use Plan. choices By Michael Short Governor Tom Carper told the Sussex County Association of Re- altors on Wednesday, Feb. 26 that there are some very good reasons why Delaware and Sussex County are struggling to develop land use plans. Carper told his audience that the plans are needed to help the state pay for the rising cost of infra- structure like roads and because the plans will help preserve the natural beauty of Delaware, pro- tecting it for both visitors and res- idents. "I do not know what common ground is. I just know we have to find it," Carper said. "In the final analysis, we have no other choice." Carper told the audience that the state has an opportunity "to be a model state for the nation." As the county wrestles with its land use plan and counts down to a state imposed deadline of March 31, there are plenty of other peo- ple voicing their concerns with the plan. For some three hours on Thurs- day, Feb. 20, the public debated the merits of the plan, focusing heavily on strip development and loss of equity for farmers. More than 30 speakers signed up to repeat often heard argu- ments of the past few months. County Council also set one more hearing date, for Monday, March 17 at Del Tech. The 7 p.m. hear- ing should be the last chance for comment before the March 31 deadline. Jane Mitchell, speaking for Til Purnell, said the Bill of Rights does not guarantee that landown- ers will make millions of dollars. "The Bill of Rights and the Con- stitution does not allow the right of pollution." But Dan Cramer took the oppo 7 site opinion, saying that if he can't use the land, he ought to be paid for it. He said that he should be able to use his land and drew the appreciation of the audience when he said "if the boys in Dover don't like it, tell them they can lump it." "When I get my dander up, boy look out," Cramer said. "Don't never come to my place and say I can't do this." Wayne Baker said, % deed means something. You have a right to use that property." Richard West of the Concerned Citizens for Fair Land Use said the group mounted a petition drive opposing the plan. He said he spoke to some 600 people and on- ly four of them supported the land use plan. "We will remember you at the next election," West told the council. Don Collins, the Sussex County Farm Bureau president, said his group is opposed to loss of prop- erty rights while farmer Roland West told the audience that if the plan is passed, "I will be able to get a drink of water and breath of fresh air while I'm starving to death." Phyllis McKinley, the executive director of the First State Manu- factured Housing Institute, said the county has considered their comments, but she was concerned with a county Planning and Zon- ing Recommendation that manu- factured housing be allowed on one acre lots, but only with Board of Adjustment approval. She took exception to the vari- ance requirement. "That is asking, 'Mother, may I please?'" Several speakers said the best way for farmland to be preserved is through voluntary efforts like the state's voluntary program un- der which farmers get incentives like tax breaks to not develop their land. Marilyn Miller pointed to a re- cently cleared piece of wooded land on Long Neck Road and said the land looks like garbage. She said a plan is needed to help peo- ple govern themselves. ,You should not be able to bulldoze every tree," she said. M.H. Mervine said people must wisely use the land, calling the plan a starting point to look "deep within ourselves." County Council President Dale Dukes asked for suggestions as well as critical comments, saying that the county is trying hard to listen to the public and "create a better mousetrap. I knew we would be criticized. But give me a better suggestion and we will con- sider it," he said. "I think you're going to see this Council is going to act responsibly. Bear with us and keep telling us what you want."