City prepares to sell two parcels that were former Head Start site

By Lynn R. Parks

The city of Seaford is preparing to sell the property on which the old Head Start building sat. The city council last Tuesday night granted the city's request to divide the Front Street property into two parcels and to rezone one of them for residential use. That followed a public hearing on the request.

The city-owned Head Start building, constructed in the mid 1930s for the administrative offices of the Pure Oil Company distributorship for the Delmarva Peninsula, was condemned and demolished last year. It had sat empty since 2005, when the Southern Delaware Center for Children and Families, which operated the Head Start program in Seaford as well as in Bridgeville and Milford, was determined to be deficient by the federal government and ordered to close its doors. In 2006, the city council approved the request by the Seaford Child Development and Partnership Inc. that it be allowed to lease the building and resume the Head Start program there.

Under the terms of the lease, Seaford Child Development and Partnership would pay the city $1 a year and would be responsible for all maintenance and repairs. But the building needed significant renovations to meet building code regulations. Following several mishaps, including a flood and a fire, the group was never able to get its program up and running.

During last Tuesday night's public hearing, city building official Josh Littleton described the city's plans to divide the 25,000-square foot property into two parcels. One parcel, 20,000 square feet, would front Front Street. The other, smaller parcel, once home to the day care center's playground, would front North Street and would be about 5,000 square feet.

The larger parcel would keep its zoning for a commercial district. The smaller would be zoned for medium-density residential development, in keeping with other lots in the vicinity.

This zoning change, Littleton said, would bring the smaller lot into compliance with the city's land-use plan.

The council granted the city's request by unanimous vote. The council also agreed to hire real estate appraiser Harold Carmean to assess the value of the two lots. The city will use that appraisal to market the two lots, assistant city manager Charles Anderson said.

Carmean will charge $2,500 for the appraisal. In a letter to the city, he said that it will be completed within two weeks.

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