Fenwick Approves Funds For Sidewalk Study

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island last week approved a $14,000 funding request to conduct a sidewalk study.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to a request from the Pedestrian Safety Committee to fund 20 percent, or $14,000, of a study that will determine a financially feasible approach to installing a continuous sidewalk system along Coastal Highway from Delaware Avenue to James Street. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) will contribute the remaining 80 percent, or $56,000, from federal grants.

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, committee chair, said DelDOT representatives Maria Andaya and Anthony Aglio presented plans for a study, which would evaluate existing sidewalks and revisit past planning studies, at a mid-April meeting.

“Maria informed the committee that DelDOT has given its okay for the town to proceed with plans to install an ADA-compliant sidewalk in phases over the next couple of years,” she said. “I’m very excited about this. We’ve been waiting 15 years for this. Every beach town has gotten sidewalks except Fenwick.”

As part of the study, DelDOT will provide consultant services to conduct the study, develop project options and cost estimates, and provide a timeline, renderings, maps and visual displays. In addition to giving approval for the project, the town is expected to reach out to property owners to raise awareness of the potential project.

“Ms. Andaya requested that the residents and business property owners should be made aware of the plan due to the need of temporary construction easements and permanent easements, which would only be needed during construction times,” Carmean said. “The committee was assured by Mr. Aglio that no construction would take place during the peak summer season.”

While the first phase of the project is expected to take a year to complete, Carmean said the study itself would be finished in one to two months once the agreement is signed.

Town Manager Terry Tieman assured the council the study would lead to a sidewalk project.

“We’ve had many plans in the past and they sat on the shelf,” she said. “That’s not the intent of this study. We all agree on that.”

Carmean said the town had spent $60,000 on an engineering study for sidewalks years ago. Yet, she argued, the $14,000 would be money well spent.

“We were assured that they really mean business this time,” she said.

The town is exploring the possibility of obtaining Community Transportation Funds to offset the cost of the study. Tieman, however, said she had yet to hear if Fenwick Island had received grant funding.

Following discussion, the council voted 7-0 to approve the $14,000 expenditure and to sign a planning study agreement with DelDOT. Carmean also invited property owners to join the Pedestrian Safety Committee.

“The committee is fine, but we want to make it larger and DelDOT would like to include more resident property owners,” she said. “If you are interested, I don’t think it will be very time consuming, but it will be very rewarding.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.