Delmar Joint Council receives traffic report

By Mike McClure

During Monday night's Delmar Joint Council meeting, the Council was presented with a plan to address the traffic problem at the Delmar Middle/Senior High School. The Council also approved a rezoning request for the Heron Ponds development/amphitheater and was presented with the preliminary plan for the amphitheater.

Delmar Superintendent Dr. David Ring and Delmar Patrolman James Jacko addressed the Council about a traffic study that was done at the school. At issue is how to coordinate the walkers, busses, and drop-offs to make things more safe.

"We continue to look at ways to improve the traffic flow in the morning," said Ring.

Jacko showed photos of the area and presented two proposals to address concerns. Both proposals involve the use of delineators (permanent or removable) on Eight Street, in front of the school. The devices would keep vehicles in lanes and prevent cars from turning into traffic, causing additional backups and potential accidents. Ring said the devices would also help control traffic patterns during after school events such as football games.

Delmar (Del.) Mayor Michael Houlihan voiced concerns about running dividers all the way down the street on a permanent basis, limiting turns from side streets and affecting area residents. He suggested getting some input from the residents before taking action.

One of the options calls for the delineators all the way down the street, while the other would only be in certain locations on the street. Either way, Ring, who has been addressing the Council about the issue for the past three years, would like to see the issue be addressed.

"Something's got to be done," Ring said. "A little inconvenience for the safety of our kids goes a long way."

Councilman Robert Thompson suggested trying one of the options (the one with less devices) with traffic cones on a trial basis. The town will look into getting enough cones to do the trial run. Once the cones are in, Ring will give parents more details on the new traffic pattern before it is initiated.

Ring also spoke to the Council about the issue of school security and a possible partnership with the town to bring a school resource officer (SRO) back to the district.

"The situation in Connecticut has brought a high level of attention in many towns," said Ring.

"I would like to see an SRO come back into our building."

There was an SRO in the building up until two years ago. Ring said he is meeting with a representative from the department of homeland security this week and will come back to the Council to share what the department is asking schools to do. Ring believes a partnership with the town may be necessary in order to bring a police officer back to the school.

The Delmar Commission (Md.) approved a zoning change for Heron Ponds following a favorable recommendation by planning and zoning. The change from R2 to R4 zoning in the third phase of the development puts the project at 50-50 between the two zoning types. The Commission also approved a monument sign for the development.

The Council was also presented with the preliminary plan for the amphitheater at Heron Ponds. The project will be done in two phases, starting with the berm, stage, and first building (with a restaurant, green room for the artists, and office) in the first stage.

Parking will be located between the homes and the amphitheater with mulch and straw being put down on the night of events, rather than having a paved parking area. There will be permanent parking around the restaurant.

The amphitheater will include a canvas that can cover 1,600 people in the event of rain. Tents can also be put up on the berm, but no permanent seating is planned.

At the beginning of the meeting, Patrolmen Robert Harris, Jeffrey Novack, and James Jacko took the oath of office. The Delmar Police Department received a $30,500 grant for video cameras in police cars that all start recording when the emergency lights are turned on. The Council also approved the purchase of a 2013 Dodge Charger for $22,170 which will be purchased by the police department with a $25,000 grant from Sussex County.

Delmar Fire Chief Darrin Scott reported that the fire department responded to 499 fire calls and 1,612 EMS calls in 2012. Plans for the new year include adding a pole shed at the rear of the building, remodeling the fire hall's lounge and kitchen area, and getting new chairs for the banquet hall. Two new ambulances are also due late fall/early winter.

The Council voted, 5-0, to approve the 40X60 storage facility (pole shed) to be located on residential property owned by the fire department. See next week's Laurel Star for more from Monday's Joint Council meeting.

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