Military surplus property acquired by Dewey Beach through a federal program is being stored at a site off Cedar Grove Road, outside Lewes.
“It’s locked and gated, and not open to the public, but it’s not a secret,” Mayor TJ Redefer said Feb. 26.
Despite Redefer’s claims of transparency, a Dewey citizens group has the Attorney General’s Office pressuring town officials to explain why on three separate occasions the town did not provide the information as a part of Freedom of Information Act requests.
Jeffrey Smith, Dewey Citizens Group organizer, said the group has requested information regarding the insurance status and location of the federal military surplus property acquired by Dewey three times – Jan. 9, Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. The information was not included as part of the town’s responses, he said, so the citizens group filed its petition with the attorney general Feb. 21.
In a Feb. 22 letter from Kim Siegel, FOIA coordinator for the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office asks the town for legal arguments as to why the town has denied the documents to the group. According to the letter, the town’s response is to be turned in by Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Redefer said the information was inadvertently left out of the submissions back to the group.
“He could have just picked up the phone and asked me directly,” he said, speaking of Smith.
Redefer said the town is doing its best to move forward, and he questions Smith’s motives. The location is insured and the town is trying to accommodate the group’s requests, he said.
Smith said accountability is the reason the group continues to press the town for information. Serious matters have been identified and wrongful actions taken by town officials, without disclosure or transparency of any type, he said.
The FOIA coordinator letter says Smith has the right to reply to the town’s explanation in three business days.
The letter states that after the Attorney General’s Office receives the submissions, it will decide what further action, if any, is appropriate.