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Lewes, Delaware
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July 14, 2000     Cape Gazette
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July 14, 2000
 

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Proposal to lift Lightship Overfalls wins Lewes OK By Dennis Forney The Lightship Overfalls, its red hull making it one of the most imposing figures on the Lewes canal- front, would become even more imposing under the latest plan put forward for its preservation. Members of the Lewes Mayor and Council, at their Monday, July l0 meeting, expressed nothing but support for a plan which would see the vessel lifted from its waterborne home of the last quarter century and placed in a permanent cradle. If the plan proceeds as presently envisioned, the vessel's keel would be at ground level which would elevate the ship to a height at least 15 feet higher than where it stands presently. Bill Reader of the Friends of the Overfalls Light- ship said one plan being considered would involve picking up the ship, filling in the slip beneath it, and sitting it back down in a cradle at grade level. Read- er said if permits aren't available, for environmental or marine reasons, to fill in the slip, the alternative would be to move the vessel to its right, closer to the launching ramp, on fast land next to the slip it's in presently. "We've talked to two firms," Reader told Mayor and Council. "Representatives of both firms came to town. One of them moved the Cape Hatteras Light- house. The supervisor for that project was here and said he could do the job. There are only fifteen of these vessels left in the country. We've talked to all of them about what they're doing. We've gathered good information," said Reader. "Now we've hired a structural engineering firm - Gredell and Associates - out of Wilmington. The owner of the firm has been involved in a number of marine projects and said he will personally handle this project. We want a complete engineering study that will give us a report outlining the means, meth- ods and cost estimates for doing what we're propos- ing." Gary Stabley, president of the Friends group, said their purpose in meeting with. town officials was to "get agreement in principle before we spend any money on the next step." Stabley said the Friends group is raising funds to handle each phase of the project and is optimistic the ship will be saved. George Elliott, president of Lewes Historical Soci- ety which owns the lightship, said the vessel will eventually be turned over to a non-profit group for its management." Councilman Jud Bennett said he fully supports the project. "This is part of our heritage and we're lucky to have this vessel here." Councilman Jim Ippolito said he felt the group's plans fall in line with the city's plans for long-range development of the canalfront area. Council member Stephanie Tsantes echoed their sentiments. "This is a great project. You're doing what you're doing makes it easier to sit up here as council members. The Overfalis belongs here in Lewes." "It's a real challenge," said Stabley, "but we expect to meet the challenge." Milton Development Corporation makes plans for first public event By Rosanne Pack Combining the unlikely activities of kayak and ca- noe races with a silent film fest, the Milton Develop- ment Corporation (MDC) has plans afloat for a first major public event since the group secured down- town property earlier this year. Set for Saturday, August 26, the town revitaliza- tion group will host a series of canoe and kayak races from the old clam factory in Lewes to the city dock in Milton. If demolition and clean-up plans proceed with alacrity, the group also plans to give tours -of their property and show silent films. The date was chosen to coincide with BargainS on the Broadkill, which is sponsored by the Milton Chamber of Commerce. What was originally a town council committee, MDC now owns the old Milton theatre, including the space that housed the Harbor Cafe. With the long- term goal of restoring the theatre as a venue for clas- sic silent movies and community space, the group is in the process of fundraising and increasing public awareness of the project. Having received a mortgage loan of $105,000 and grants totally $65,000, organization president Dr. Charles Wagner wants the public to know that anoth- er Milton entity is on the move. "We are in the process of raising money," he said. "Now, we want to raise awareness, too. Work has started in the theatre and we are planning to have it cleared and cleaned enough to take people in and let them see our vision. If all goes as we hope, we will be able to show some films as well as take people on tours." There is currently only one other theatre in the United States that is dedicated to showing only silent films, and it is on the west coast. Wagner and the MDC board of directors feel that offering a silent film venue for entertainment as well as educational purposes will be an additional draw to the area. With the rear of the theatre property overlooking the Broadkill River, Wagner and board members have considered possibilities of including decking and retail space in what could be a complex of shops, exhibit space and a restaurant. As for the immediate future, they want to protect the original frescoes that line the walls of the theatre and get the space ready for public presentation Aug. 26. Leah Betts, Milton Town Council member and MDC board member, said the day of water racing and film watching should be a great introduction to the on-going project. She said many local people are noticing activity in the old theatre and expressing cu- riosity about MDC plans. "I think having a public event will really help us gain momentum," she said. "And combining our races and tours with BargainS on the Broadkill will give visitors a lot to do in Mil- ton that day." The nonprofit corporation recently received the of- ficial blessing of the town council and a pledge to as- sist the revitalization organization in attaining state funding. At the July meeting, Milton Town Council voted to go on the record as being in full support of the theatre revitalization project. Council members also approved a request that Milton act on the corpo- ration's behalf in seeking state funding in 2001. The canoe and kayak races will have divisions for single- and two-person kayaks and two-person ca- noes. Cash prizes will be awarded and participants will receive t-shirts commemorating the event. Reg- istration fees of $50 and $100 will be required. Wag- ner Said those wishing to participate are encouraged to get sponsors to aid them in financing equipment and training. For information on the races, call 684-3660. 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