By the end of the year, the western portion of Rehoboth Avenue should be a little safer for pedestrians.
During a commissioner workshop Sept. 8, Rehoboth commissioners approved the installation of pedestrian signs and lights at the three pedestrian crosswalks on Rehoboth Avenue from city hall west to Fifth Street.
This project is a line item in this year’s budget worth $50,000, but when commissioners passed the budget in March, two-thirds of a $3 million general fund capital improvement budget was deferred until fall.
Commissioner Lisa Schlosser said she asked for the subject to be put on the agenda. Schlosser recognized the city is in penny-pinching mode, but said the move to defer that portion of the budget has put the city in a position to make this small, but important investment.
Every day the city delays action, it’s increasing the risk for an accident, or worse, she said.
In the grand scheme of the city’s $26 million budget, City Manager Sharon Lynn said the $50,000 expenditure is not a big number, but it’s a cost, and where the money will come from will have to be figured out. At this point, everything is being looked at, she said.
Lynn said the pedestrian improvements may be installed by the end of the year, but added that parts need to be ordered and there could be a several-month wait.
Police Chief Keith Banks said data doesn’t necessarily back up the need – zero accidents in any of the three crosswalks dating back to 2017 – but he said he was in favor of the safety measure. It’s been a problem since Rehoboth Avenue streetscape was done, because people don’t understand the brick pavers indicate crosswalks, he said.
Commissioner Susan Gay asked if proposed crosswalks on King Charles Avenue could also be added. Rehoboth Avenue isn’t the only place in town with busy intersections, she said.
Lynn said those crosswalks would have to wait until next year.
City-wide paving bids announced
Commissioners also discussed the bids for the city-wide street paving program, and it appears the $50,000 spent on pedestrian improvements minutes before could be realized in savings on the paving bids.
The city budgeted $450,000 in this year’s budget for the program. Public Works Director Kevin Williams said Newark-based A-Del Construction was the low bidder at approximately $370,000.
The price includes paving on Lake Avenue, from Surf Avenue to North First Street; on Sussex Street, from Columbia Avenue to Fifth Street; and on Stockley Street, from Hickman Street to Scarborough Avenue. The price also includes crack sealing in much of the Country Club Estates development, island work on Scarborough Avenue and a section of sidewalk on Lake Drive.
Williams said the city moved forward with the bid process so things were ready to go for the next administration. He said if it’s approved, the work could be done in the fall, when the weather conditions are more favorable.
Final meeting for Kuhns, Schlosser and Scheffer
The September workshop also marked the final meeting for Kuhns, Schlosser and Commissioner Steve Scheffer.
Kuhns was elected mayor in 2017. He was a sitting commissioner at the time and defeated former Mayor Sam Cooper, a two-decade incumbent. He lost to Mayor-elect Stan Mills in August.
Schlosser, elected in 2017, and Scheffer, appointed in 2018, did not run for re-election.
Mills and Commissioners-elect Jay Lagree and Patrick Gossett are set to be sworn in at the commissioner meeting Friday, Sept. 18.