FENWICK ISLAND – Fenwick Island’s Pedestrian Safety Committee has concluded a proposed sidewalk could be placed along the commercial corridor of Route 1 without posing major problems to most adjacent parking lots, but will meet with the town’s Business Development Committee to gather more input from property owners.
In a Pedestrian Safety Committee, or Sidewalk Committee, meeting Thursday, committee member Bill Weistling and Councilman Bernie Merritt presented their findings from an informal study they conducted earlier this month as part of an ongoing effort to establish a continuous sidewalk system along Fenwick Island’s commercial district.
The goal of Weistling and Merritt’s study was to review potential parking changes highlighted in a Landmark study the town commissioned in 2011 and submit any findings to the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) for their review.
In their research, the two noted that using a combination of new sidewalks and striped paving would be the ideal situation for accommodating a walkway throughout the commercial areas.
“Overall I think a lot of these areas the sidewalks could be placed,” Weistling said. “It would be nice if we could stripe some of the existing parking lots …”
Weistling explained constructing a sidewalk in the area would require eliminating a limited number of parking spaces at two businesses and creating diagonal parking spaces at others, but Merritt told the committee the project could be feasible.
“It wasn’t as bad as we thought once you get into it,” he said.
Weistling said he wasn’t sure how far back DelDOT would make the town install the sidewalks.
He said DelDOT’s requirements of a 2-foot buffer and 5-foot walkway would be workable in some areas, but not in others, such as the Fenwick Islander hotel and Fenwick Crabhouse, for example.
“If they are going to require us to go back, we are going to have to get easements from all these people,” he said.
Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, chair of the committee, stressed the importance of working with businesses along Route 1.
“I think it’s important we work with the business owners in a positive way as much as we can,” she said.
The committee agreed to reach out to the town’s Business Development Committee in November to discuss the potential sidewalk project.
Councilman Richard Mais added that he would want to hear DelDOT’s plans for the project before going forward.
“Before we go too far, I guess I would like to hear from DelDOT whether we are going to have to ask for easements or encroach on their parking,” he said. “I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for people that have been using state land for their parking lots.”
The committee also agreed to look into the town’s parking ordinance and expressed an interest in setting up a fund for the sidewalk project.
“I don’t see the state giving us money,” Carmean said. “I don’t see the county giving us money.”