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Lewes, Delaware
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May 1, 1998     Cape Gazette
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May 1, 1998

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8 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May I - May 7, 1998 Letters Continued from page 6 reasons.) Many sections of side- walk have been repeatedly re- paired by property owners and the city over the years to keep the them as safe as possible. Roots have been removed or ground down when feasible, root barriers have been tried in a couple of cas- es, patching materials have been used on the sidewalks to smooth out rough spots but none of these approaches have stood the test of time. The fact of the matter is that the trees have outgrown the ap- proximate 2-foot square pit they were planted in arid there is no way the sidewalks will not be af- fected. Yes, concrete could be re- moved to allow more axga around the roots but there are ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements for sidewalk widths that must be maintained for handi- capped persons. In some cases of- fending roots can be safely re- moved, but in other cases this can cause a different hazard. If one takes a close look at trees on Sec- ond Street, they will quickly no- tice that the crowns are not sym- metrical. Many have had to be pruned back from the buildings and are now mainly one-sided trees, which means that all of the weight is on the street side of the tree. If the main anchoring root is under the sidewalk, it cannot be removed without the increasing the likelihood of the entire tree falling over. Add to that the fact that we have sandy soil which al- lows more shifting and the insta- bility of the structure increases even further. A couple of other problems also exist. Some of the remaining trees have girdling roots that will even- tually choke off the flow of water and nutrients in the trees' vascular systems and the affected trees will then die. Then, in the past two years, a number of the trees have been infected with fire blight - a disease caused by bacteria that kills limbs and, if not treated, kills the tree. When these limbs are re- moved, the equipment has to be sterilized between cuts or the dis- ease is spread on to the next area cut. This is a time consuming and expensive process. Since this flowering season was wet, further damage may be seen this year. The bottom line is that trees are living things and have a lifespan which, I should note, is usually shortened greatly when trees planted in the stressful street envi- ronment are then subjected to abu- sive care practices. The Bradford pears on Second Street may ap- pear "healthy" to the untrained eye or to someonewho is unaware of the history of the variety and to the damage that can be caused by improper care. Prior to the PRC's existence, these trees, like many other street trees in Lewes, were topped for utility line clearance. Consequently, these trees would have been doomed even if they had no inherent genetic flaws in the crotch area since topping is one of the most destructive prun- ing practices done. Once a tree is topped, it begins its decline as rot slowly sets into the limbs and the trunk, not to mention the fact that topping removes almost all the leaves from the crown, and they are a tree's source of food. Such trees continue to exist in a stressed condition and often appear healthy for a long period of time, but they can no longer be classi- fied as "healthy" trees. The PRC has managed these trees and other trees when we became responsible for their care. Over the past few years, the PRC, with the aid of the Sussex County extension agent and the state community forester, has done a complete street tree inven- tory and we are currently finishing the inventory of the park trees. The health and condition of each tree is assessed at the time the in- ventory is taken and is then moni- tored and updated at least once a year. The data is then entered into a computer database, as are all work records. This inventory shows that Lewes has many large, old declining trees that may need to be removed over the next five to 10 years, very few maturing trees to replace them and many young trees that the PRC has planted in the past eight years in an effort to catch up prior years of neglect. We are doing all that can be done to slow the decline of the mature trees, but some will un- doubtedly have to be removed be- fore the young trees grow to a suf- ficient size to replace them. In its short existence, the PRC has planted over 300 trees along the streets and in the parks. So even though a precious few trees have had to be removed in this same time period, it should be obvious that the PRC is reforesting Lewes and not cavalierly destroying all of Lewes' "healthy" trees for no good reason. We have used as many resources as possible to add trees to the local environment. Some midsize trees were donated and moved in with a tree spade. The others have primarily been re- ceived through a matching grant program overseen by the Delaware National Forestry Council or free from the National Tree Trust. We have also gotten a number of matching grants through the Forestry Council for tree maintenance. All of these grant requests are reviewed by knowledgeable people and we are also in constant contact with other experts as needs arise. The trees in Lewes will soon be protected by law as was suggested by Mr. Bennett. Had he been at the March City Council meeting, he would have known that a street/park ordinance, drafted by the PRC, was presented to council at that time. It is now being re- viewed by City Council, the Board of Public Works, and the city solicitor. It, however, does not rule out the total ability to re- move trees, as was implied it should, since this would be irre- sponsible. If a tree becomes a haz- ard to the public, it must be able to be removed and replaced. The or- dinance does, however, protect the trees from improper pruning pmc- rices such as topping, since this is the main cause of the rot in the street trees the PRC has had to remove. I would like to assure the resi- dents of Lewes that the PRC has done its homework in researching possible solutions to the Bradford pear problem as well as other tree problems in Lewes. The Bradford pear problems are unique to this particular variety of the species and there is nothing that can be done to eliminate the limb detach- ment problem. There are, howev- err things that can be done in the future to pretty much 'eliminate the root/sidewalk and the utility wire/crown conflicts. The PRC submitted to council a concept planof what it consideredto be the ideal conditions for longterm tree growth on Second Street. It would eliminate the conflicts and allow the trees to develop full symmetrical crowns that would shade the street and sidewalks as well as restore the beauty of Sec- ond Street. Trees are a valuable resource that deserve much more than a fleeting moment of atten- tion at election time. I would chal- lenge those seated on council and those elected in May to focus on adopting the key concepts pre- sented by the PRC in their plan, and further, to adopt the tree ordi- nance to protect those wonderful natural resources that enhance our community's environment and ap- pearance. Mary Vessels chairman Lewes Parks and Recreation Commission Bennett has done his homework I have known Judson Bennett for 20 years. I have known him through bad times and I have known him through good times. Life is about growth, change and maturity. If anybody in this world has progressed and matured in this life it is Judson Bennett. The City of Lewes is on the verge of a sig- nificant election that could very well set the standard for its future. Lewes is a marvelous community by the very nature of its geogra- phy and its history. Because of the incessant growth in southern Sus- sex County and the desire of peo- ple to live in Lewes, to maintain the magnificent quality of life there is indeed going to take some doing. Judson Bennett has the courage+ the drive and the innovation to lead Lewes into the 21st century. He knows how to overcome ad- versity because he has done it. He knows how to make money, be- cause he has done it. He under- stands business and finance be- cause he is continually involved in it. He understands awesome re- sponsibility because in his job as a river pilot, he often has to make decisions that could be related to life or death. Imagine the fortitude and the presence of mind he must have to weekly climb a 30-foot pi- lot ladder in all kinds of weather, assume command of the vessel, and safely guide it to Philadelphia. Judson Bennett is well educated and is continually striving to bet- ter himself. Amazingly, he is about to complete his second mas- ter's degree. Jud Bennett is an ex- tremely bright, sensitive and giv- ing human being. If one was to criticize him who really knew the man as I do, you could say his biggest fault is that "he wears his heart on his sleeve." What you see is what you get with Jud Bennett. To vote for Judson Bennett would be the smartest thing a Lewes resident could do in the up- coming election. Jud Bennett is now truly ready for Lewes and Lewes should be ready for him! Barbara Maeeoy Midway Cleaver expounds on mayor's post As I travel around Lewes, cam- paigning for the job of mayor of our fair city, ,the- one issue that seems to be on everyone's mind is our finances. Are our cash re- serves invested wisely? Are we getting the best return on our in- vestments? How long will our cash reserves last? Can we afford to continue our much needed street renovations? How long be- fore taxes will have to be raised? These are the questions that are being asked of me. I am glad to know our residents are as concerned about this issue as I am. Our cash reserves are cur- rently invested with Baltimore Trust Company in the form of cer- tificates of deposit [CDs]. The in- vestments are collateralized, thus making them very secure. Howev- er, I do not believe we are getting the best return on our investments. The Lewes Board of Public Works has their cash reserves in- vested in Treasury Notes with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadel- phia. This has been the case for the past four years and the interest rate they are receiving has in most cases been 1 .percent or more than the 5.25 [percent] to 5.5 [percent] rate the City of Lewes has been re- ceiving on their CDs during that period. With the city's cash reserves currently at approximately $2,888,000, an additional 1 per- cent of interest would mean about $29,000 more to the city each year. Those Treasury Notes are just as secure as CDs, and it only makes sense that we consider this form of investment while investi- gating other secure investment op- portunities that may exist. Even though the city has suc- cessfully completed a number of street renovation projects, there is much more work left to be done. We need to be smarter than ever in the way we generate revenue, make our investments and in the way we spend our money. Only then will we be able to continue to make improvements to our city while keeping our taxes low. Just because something worked in the past does not mean there is not a better way for the present. If I am elected Lewes' next mayor, the finances of our city will be my first priority. I will pro- vide the leadership that will allow us to move forward with our capi- tal projects while making the fi- nancial burden on each taxpayer as minimal as possible. I ask for your support on Saturday, May 9. George Cleaver Candidate for Mayor Bennett's the one for Lewes seat Lewes has a City Council elec- tion coming up on May .9 and by all accounts, it will be a critical one. Real issues have been raised and the candidates' positions and records are well defined. After reviewing the articles, evaluating the ideas, and listening to what they have had to say, one candidate seems to stand out a lit- tle above the rest, and that's Jud- son Bennett. Besides being a straight shooter and longtime Lewes resident, he brings several things to the posi- tion that are probably even more important for Lewes at this rime in its history. They are: He will be his own man and not beholden to any individual or faction for past favors or appoint- merits. An understanding of the town and its political landscape - he will not be a novice when it comes to representing the citizens' best interests in the future. He has demonstrated his abili- ty to identify critical problem ar- eas that need to be corrected. ; He has put forward sugges- tions on how to make those cor- rections. He has shown the courage and willingness to stand up and speak out against abuses of power that unfortunately has been all too prevalent in the past. He has demonstrated his affec- tion and commitment to the town by coming back from a narrow de- feat two years ago to rededicate his time, energy and resources to- ward helping the City of Lewes realize its full potential for the 21 st century. This in turn should help us all enjoy a fuller and more enriching life here. And if he's elected, there's no reason to believe that he won't continue to bring this same dedi- cation, commitment, enthusiasm and new ideas to the City Council. Judson Bennett has strived hard to earn our confidence. Let's give it to him on May 9. Allen Ide Lewes Daughter gives insight into Lewes candidate My oldest son, Eric, is a student at Towson University. This se- mester, in a writing class, the as- signment was given to write a pa2 per on your three heroes. He was only able to think of one, his grandfather, George (Teddy) Cleaver. With the possible excep- tion of my dad's dad, I would pick the same hero. I +know you can't choose your parents, but I have, for 44 years, felt very lucky to Continued on page 14