Let it be: Millsboro chooses status quo on roadside memorials

MILLSBORO – Let it be.

That’s Millsboro town council’s consensus on roadside memorials – a sensitive issue brought to council’s discussion forum by Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway in March.

“This will be the third meeting we’ve had on this,” said Millsboro Mayor John Thoroughgood.

After brief discussion, council agreed to let things stand as is, which is allow a single item such as a cross at a roadside memorial, so long as it does not interfere with private property rights or become a public safety issue.

“This came to head basically because of the accumulation of things that were being put there but never removed, was it not?” asked town councilman Larry Gum.

“There were about 11 to 13 crosses. They were there for two years,” said Mayor Thoroughgood. “And it was getting to be a nuisance for the neighbors. There were liquor bottles and everything else.”

Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson informed council that presently each of the roadside memorials in the town consists of a single cross.

“My personal feeling is … if it doesn’t last forever and it’s not too big of a display,” said councilman Tim Hodges. “I think everybody is sensitive to the personal side of it. That’s a special occasion wherever it happened.”

Chief Calloway confirmed that roadside memorials are now one cross.

“That is correct. I certainly agree with what Mr. Hodges has presented. And again, the most recent roadside memorial was a sensitive issue. I appreciate the council’s patience when it came to this,” said Chief Calloway. “Other memorials we have are one item, whether it be a cross … as long as it not considered a danger to other community members.”

“These are being put in the right of ways, not on private property, is that correct?” Mr. Gum asked.

“I’ve seen them both ways,” said Mayor Thoroughgood.

“I can see an issue. Say if something happened in front of my residence, I wouldn’t want somebody putting something in my front yard,” said Mr. Gum. “I would object to it.”

Mary Schrider-Fox, Millsboro’s town solicitor, pointed out that private property owners have the right to say no to roadside memorials placed on their property. “It is your private personal property,” she said. “So, in that case you could say, ‘Sorry, but you need to take it away.’”

“That is my concern from a code enforcement standpoint. I hate for the town to have to play ‘bad cop’ on this. I’d almost rather to Mary’s point remind residents of their rights to remove things that are on their private property. I think that would address at least some of the concern,” said Mr. Hudson. “To the chief’s credit, he was very helpful handling a delicate situation going outside of his lane so to speak and handling a civil matter. That was appreciated by town hall.”

“So, perhaps the thing to do is to leave status quo, but make note that the town always reserves the right to make sure that it is not overdone, or in a dangerous location or on private property or even on the right-of-way where it is not appropriate,” said Mr. Hodges.

“I’d say we ride it out and see what happens in the future,” said Mr. Gum.

“Hopefully, we’ll never see a cross; that’s what I am hoping,” said Mayor Thoroughgood. “As touchy as it is, it does become a nuisance to someone else, even though somebody lost their life there.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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