Frankford community park paving encounters financial roadblock

FRANKFORD – Hope that the parking lot at Frankford Community Park will be repaved prior to the town’s big fall festival Oct. 29 has hit a roadblock.

Additional requirements from Delaware’s Department of Transportation have staggered efforts for the project that have pledged legislative funding support from state Rep. Rich Collins and state Sen. Gerald Hocker.

Town councilman Marty Pressley announced during the Oct. 3 council meeting that the overall cost of the paving project has nearly doubled with inclusion of amenities required by DelDOT.

“Any time you deal with government, the next layer of government throws a monkey wrench into everything. That is what we are running into now. We were hoping to have this done, wrapped up and paved for the fall festival,” said Mr. Presley. “It doesn’t look like that is going to happen.”

“By the time you factor in what DelDOT is requiring us to do as far as handicap, striping and curb/guttering, you’re basically doubling the cost of the project. We’re going from 30-some thousand to close to $60,000,” said Mr. Pressley. “The good news is that Rich Collins hasn’t thrown in the white towel yet.

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Frankford Community Park on Clayton Avenue.

“An Oct. 10 meeting that included Rep. Collins and town and DelDOT representatives was to be held to see if something could be worked out “to minimize the extra costs DelDOT is putting on it,” said Mr. Pressley. “I think the money is still available.”

The Frankford Fall Festival is set for Oct. 29 and runs from noon to 4 p.m. at the community park on Clayton Avenue. A parade is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Sell and consolidate

Banking on recommendations from those in real estate, town council may look to sell the current police department property and consolidate town operations under one roof — the town property that currently houses Justice of the Peace Court No. 1.

Earlier this year, the state of Delaware announced its plans to vacate JP Court in Frankford at the end in a consolidation of JP courts in Sussex.

“We have spoken with several real estate companies and gotten their opinions on the town assets as far as the police department, the old water plant, the JP Court, and our current (town hall) building,” said Mr. Pressley. “It seems like the consensus is that the best thing for us to do is sell the police department, use the proceeds from that to upgrade the old water plant and use it (for storage).”

The town would consolidate town hall, the police department and other operations in the JP Court building on Main Street.

The police department property is valued at $70,000 to $75,000.

Mr. Pressley said the advantage of selling that property is “not only receiving the money for the building, we’d no longer have the upkeep of the building.”

The town is contemplating donating the current town hall to the non-profit Envision Frankford organization “so that they would have the ability to raise money and really promote the town in a really good way, with the understanding that the building will be preserved as it is to maintain its integrity,” said Mr. Pressley.

Update on Mountaire

In the 2000s, Frankford took on substantial debt to upgrade its water plant. Earlier this year, town water revenue took a major hit when Mountaire Farms put in operation its own well it drilled to meet production needs for its feed mill plant in the town.

The town is now moving forward with an option to refinance existing debt with the possibility of a zero-percent loan through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Mr. Presley said.

“We could extend the maturity of those loans out to minimize the cash flow hit that we are getting from Mountaire being disconnected from our system,” Mr. Presley said. “The bad news is we extend loans out another 10 years.”

By doing this, the town would save about $55,000 in interest costs for the life of the loan.

“More importantly that will reduce our debt service from approximately $85,000 down to around $30,000,” said Mr. Pressley.

He added that would cushion the blow with the loss of Mountaire as its high-volume user.

The town subsequently has appealed DNREC’s decision to permit Mountaire to drill its well without town permission to the state Environmental Appeals Board.

Mr. Pressley announced two meetings that are scheduled for this month. One meeting, to be held Oct. 27, was requested by DNREC to explore other options.

“What those options are at this point in time, we don’t really know,” said Mr. Pressley, adding council’s point of view going into this is the loss of a minimum of $1.4 million over the next 20 years

“Our point of view is: where is the $1.4 million going to come from? That is how we are going into the meeting. So we’ll see what happens,” said Mr. Pressley. “DNREC has requested this meeting and if we can come to some sort of agreement, we would drop the appeal.”

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

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