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May 29, 2015     Cape Gazette
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May 29, 2015

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8 FRIDAY, MAY 29 - MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2015 VIEWPOINTS Cape Gazette Letters )) Let's not deface Fourth Street forest Today there are enough empty homes in Lewes to house every homeless person four times over. I am writing because of an act that deeply concerns me. As the Lewes area grows economically, more and more of our beautiful area is being developed, paving over wildlife habitats to develop houses. While development is Lmportant, we are a histori- cal area, as well as a habitat for vibrant wildlife. Habitats like the Fourth Street forest must be pro- tected. I am deeply concerned by the plans to develop the Fourth Street forest in Lewes. The last forest in historic Lewes, it is the habitat for deer, fox, and many birds and squirrels who accent our town. If my time in the Boy Scouts has taught me anything, it's the importance and beauty in nature and ecology, and how easily it can coincide with devel- oped areas. I want to signify that beauty. Without our verdant for- est, all the wildlife that live there would be forced to leave our town, going to either Cape Henlo- pen or Rehoboth. We must not let the march of progress trample species, lest we lose a valuable portion of our character to that egregious perfidy. The development of Lewes is an inevitable outcome of having such a wonderful area. However, that does not necessitate paving over every last green leaf for gray houses we don't need. Without our vibrant wildlife, the local inhabitants 10se out. Fourth Street is beautiful, from the blossoming trees to the deer, foxes and birds that can be seen in the woods nearby. Let's not efface their homes to place empty ones of our own. Austin Ross student Sussex Academy Overbrook "Traffic' Center a boondoggle The League of Women Voters has been holding forums through- out the county on the planning and zoning process. The number one concern of attendees - traffic. Route 1 in the area of the pro- posed Overbrook Town Center is already seriously overloaded for significant periods of time year round, as well as in summer, on weekends (Thursday through Monday) and is very crowded during weekday commutes. According to the developer's traffic study, when the OTC opens the peak traffic loads will increase by more than 60 percent (2000-3000 more vehicles/hour) over the study's 2013 traffic levels. The ripple effect of all this traffic on the roadways and intersec- tions feeling this increase has not been adequately considered. There are only three approach- es to the OTC- Route 1 north and south, and Cave Neck Road. An overpass is a planned future state project at Cave Neck Road crossing Route 1, but this project is not yet even funded for design. On Route 1 the developer's traffic study looks no further than Route 16 to the north and Nassau Sta- tion Road to the South. That's right, it doesn't even address the impacts on Five Points, much less the many other flow-constricted intersections in this direction. In addition, since anyone with local smarts or a GPS will seek to avoid Route 1, Cave Neck Road will become a thoroughfare. Shopping traffic from the west and southwest will further clog routes 9, 5 and 16, Hudson Road, Sweetbriar Road and the network of roads in and around Mikon. The developer's traffic study doesn't consider this. There are serious impacts. Can police, fire fighters and emergen- cy medics reach their missions in a timely manner - can volunteers reach their meet points in time? Will the heavy traffic and gridlock damage the tourist trade that businesses depend on or ruin the OTC's chances of being suc- cessful? Will the travel problems deter retiree immigration? Logic alone tells you that the traffic cannot be dramatically increased without road upgrades. A more expansive traffic study would identify whether a safe and efficient system can be built and if so, what improvements are needed. The intersection at Cave Neck Road and Route 1 will likely need to have additional traffic lanes on Route 1 to handle the ad- ditional traffic and for the mixing of the large amount of exiting and entering vehicles. Ramp lanes and shoulders for emergency use are also needed. Barefootin' Continued from page 7 commissioners voted to reduce the allowable catch of menha- den by 20 percent. Understandably, the commer- cial menhaden industry, which for several decades served as the backbone of the Lewes economy, didn't like the reduc- tion. Based now primarily out of Reedville, Va., in the lower Chesapeake, Omega corpora- tion operates several menhaden purse fishing vessels and ex- tracts omega-3-rich oil from the catch for the vitamin industry. This spring, after analyzing new statistics measuring the health of the coastal menhaden population, the commission determined that things aren't as bad as previous assessments showed. In a split vote, mem- bers approved a 10 percent increase in the quota. Omega cheered, but Goldsborough isn't so happy. "It's true that the overall biomass of the fishery is at about its average for the past 50 to 60 years. But the actual number of fish in the biomass is down. Their overall abundance is the lowest it's been in 50 to 60 years," said Goldsborough. "That means there are more larger, older fish and fewer younger fish. Menhaden spawn offshore, and their larvae are then blown into estuaries and rivers where the young fish grow. Chesapeake Bay is a huge nursery, but for the past 20 years there's been very poor recruitment of juvenile fish in the Chesapeake. Something's going on. Now we're seeing more of the biomass farther north, in New England and northern waters. The problem is that the younger fish - and the numbers of them - are more important for other predators like bluefish and stripers. If they're not available for the bluefish and the stripers, that puts more pressure on bay anchovies and young trout." Goldsborough said when the fisheries commission voted recently to increase the quota for menhaden, it also agreed to begin developing ecological reference points for assessing the health of the menhaden population. In a nutshell, that means determining whether there are enough fish left over in the overall population for the other species that feed on menhaden, after the commercial fishermen have taken their quota. "They're being methodical about this," said Goldborough, "and that's good. They're trying to get it right. But the new refer- ence points won't come into play until 2017." Impacting whale watching? Capt. Dale Parsons at Fisher- man's Wharf in Lewes agrees that the menhaden quota shouldn't have been increased. "The last few years we've had good whale watching out in the mouth of Delaware Bay. There's plenty of food out there for them. They're staying around, and it's good for our whale watching business. We're not the only predators out there, you know." But what about the menhaden following the blues and some sort of climate change impli- cation? "I don't know," said Goldsborough. "All I know is that menhaden larvae are plank- tonic, and where they go can be affected by winds and currents. To the extent that winds and currents are being affected by climate change, maybe part of the answer is there. Maybe the larvae are being swept a little farther up the coast, and the epicenter for the menhaden biomass is maybe shifting to the north." Clearly, Goldsborough hasn't connected all the dots, nor have Morris or Parsons. Nature, of course has. It's up to us to keep trying to understand, continuing our ultimate quest for harmony, so we don't end up singing the blues instead of catching them. Cave Neck Road, including the overpass, will need two lanes in each direction. The surround- hag roads and inter eetion will need upgrades of traffic lanes and intersections, and in many cases traffic signals. It is important to identify these improvements because DelDOT should require transportation network improve- ments and modifications to be built or funded by the developer. The cost could be split appro- priately because some of the improvements may be needed (on a smaller scale) even without the OTC. These costs to support the shopping center must not be passed on to the taxpayers. The developer has agreed to con- tribute up to $8 million toward the overpass construction, but nothing more. This appears to be seriously inadequate. So far, the developer has repeatedly provided site plans whose roadways have small radius turns entering and leaving Route 1. This results in inad- equate acceleration and decelera- tion lanes. There are steep eleva- tion changes entering and leaving the overpass. This is unsafe. Most traffic needs to go through a series of traffic circles in the OTC. This causes backups and accidents. The objective seems to be minimizing the cost of property acquisitions at the expense of proper ramps and grading. DelDOT comments have guided the developer as to what is acceptable, but the developer has not corrected the problems in his resubmitted plans. This, in spite of the fact that DelDOT has been requesting a reduced level of acceptability for this location - minimum state standards. This is not as safe as the other Route 1 overpasses- see those near Mil- ford. It makes no sense for one of the highest traffic concentration locations to have a compromised level of safety. The OTC depends on a zoning change. Sussex County Council meets June 2 to consider this re- quest. In the interest of passable traffic and public safety I implore readers to make their voices heard by writing a letter to the council or attending the hearing. More information is available at Bob BUlmyre Milton It's about health, welfare and common sense Not to whom it may concern, but to everyone who should be concerned, Every time I return to our home in Paynters Mill, I pass the Red Mill Inn sign that proudly states "Country quiet at the beach,"' and that strikes a resonant chord with me because it so perfectly frames why we chose to live here. Now that sign resonates in an altogether different fashion be- cause it serves as a daily remind- er that the tranquility we sought is threatened by the specter of traffic congestion, air pollution, noise pollution, disruption of the marshland and twisted bands of concrete and steel that will ulti- mately wrap themselves around what was once country quiet and strangle it. This is Sussex County, Lower Slower Delaware, a location that we, and so many of our neigh- bors, sought as refuge from the congested cities we left behind. We didn't think we would have to contend with the "mailing of America" in the form of Over- brook Town Center on this quiet stretch of Coastal Highway, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Rehoboth Beach. Cave Neck Road is not a cor- ridor of hale and hardy, up-and- coming young careerists looking to make their mark on the world. It's home to retirees, senior citizens, entering a more fragile era in their lives with a growing need for confidence in the ability of first responders to be there for them in cases of emergency, the need for which becomes more likely as we age. I can't imagine what it will be like when health and well- being hang in the balance while emergency medical personnel try to navigate the obstacles of the parking lot of Overbrook Town Center when time is of the essence. This is not NIMBY, this is not curmudgeonly obstruction- ism, this is about health, welfare and common sense. Jeff Rosolio Paynters Mill Milton Taxpayers shouldn't foot cost of Overbrook With Delaware's budget in such dire straits that Gov. lack Markell felt it necessary to pro- pose slashing the property tax credit for senior citizens, it's un- conscionable that the state should consider spending even one cent on construction of an overpass to benefit the proposed Overbrook Town Center. As reported by the Cape Ga- zette, DelDOT officials estimate that the overpass could cost ap- proximately $20 million, although the developer would foot only $8 million of the bill. In other words, Delaware taxpayers would be stuck with a bill of $12 million or more for a project that would benefit a private venture. Coinci- dentally, that's almost identical to the amount Delaware projects it would save in the first year of the governor's proposed tax hike on seniors. Although the Overbrook devel- oper will tout the jobs that would be created and income taxes gen- erated because of the project, it's also true that the developer will profit handsomely if the proposed shopping mall is built. Road improvements made nec- essary by the project should be paid for by the principal benefi- ciary - the developer - and not by taxpayers. I hope we can count on Sussex County's representatives in the state Legislature to ensure that taxpayers are no longer asked to foot the bills for projects that benefit private interests. Peter Harrigan Rehoboth Beach