Chairman’s Report, January 2014

Report to the Town Assembly of the Village of Arden
by Danny Schweers, Chair, Monday, January 27, 2014

(Some of this repeats info posted elsewhere on this blog.)

LOCAL SERVICES APPLICATION FILED WITH COUNTY

On December 27, 2013, I filed the Local Services Application with New Castle County for July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The county taxes us on the services it provides us, but gives our village a tax credit on the services we provide locally. Our treasurer, David Michelson, provided the following actual expenditures.
Recreation programs: $28,748 (BWVC), $1,500 (ACRA), $800 (Library)
Local Parks and Roads: $53,106 (Civic), $3,936 (Memorial Garden), and $2,760 (Playground).

INSURANCE INSPECTION

I and others met on January 14, 2014 with our insurance agent and our insurance company’s inspector. My notes from that successful meeting can be found on my new blog on the Arden website. Please contact me if you have questions.

RECORDS MANAGEMENT AND FOIA

To learn more about best practices for records management and about handling Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Village Secretary Liz Resko and I went to Dover on Thursday, January 23, 2014 to hear presentations by the Delaware State Archives and by the Delaware Department of Justice. Links to the Powerpoint slides of those presentations are on my blog. One of my goals for 2014 is to get meeting times posted at least seven days before committee meetings, as required by law.

SEA LEVEL RISE

The village recently received a hundred-page document titled “Recommendations for adapting to sea level rise in Delaware” from the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee. On the Internet, search for “preparing for tomorrow’s high tide DNREC 2013”.

PAVING MARSH ROAD

Delaware Department of Transportation is now accepting bids to pave Marsh Road from Silverside to Chestnut. The contract number is T201406102 if you want to find details on the Internet. Paving will probably occur this year and hopefully will not impact the Arden Fair.

THE BUZZ

Finally, let me talk a bit about a topic banned from some homes, a topic some consider the Bermuda Triangle of Arden politics. I’m talking about the Buzz Ware Village Center.

While The Buzz is the sole responsibility of the Village of Arden, it is a community center for all three Ardens. One village has to make the legal and fiscal decisions for a community center that serves three villages. This division is not often a problem, but it is a recurring problem.

First, some background. Buzz committee meetings have been run with representatives of all three Ardens having a voice. While representatives of Ardencroft and Ardentown don’t officially have a vote when decisions are made, traditionally everyone had their say and a consensus was reached. Problems arise when there was not consensus.

When, in November, 2013, Larry Strange reminded the representatives of the other villages that they did not have an official vote at Buzz Committee meetings, an uproar ensued. Some of the ruckus was driven by personalities, but the basic problem was that representatives of the other villages felt like they deserved a vote since their villages so actively contribute to The Buzz with volunteers and because their villages do contribute financially to a degree.

This is an old problem. Shari Phalan, from Ardentown, tells this story: Ten years ago or so she attended a meeting of The Buzz committee as an Ardentown representative. She wanted to vote on an issue but an Arden representative would not let her vote because she was not an elected member of the Arden committee. In Shari’s hand was a check from Ardentown, written out to The Buzz, that village’s yearly donation. “If you want this check,” she said, “I get to vote!” I don’t know how they worked it out.

Another time the problem surfaced was when Marguerite Archer moved from Arden to Ardentown or Ardencroft. As I remember, Marguerite was an Arden resident elected to The Buzz committee; in fact, she was became chair. But, when she moved away from Arden, she was surprised to learn she could no longer be chair. Because the committee had been run with all three Ardens having a voice, she thought her place of residence was irrelevant. The reality is different.

Out of the latest ruckus came a letter from Ardencroft Director Jim Schwaber to the chairs of the three villages. He asked us to explore how the three villages could share in the fiscal and program decisions of The Buzz, rather than one village having sole responsibility.

The three chairs have met twice now, on January 4 and 25, to begin exploring how the three Ardens together might be responsible for The Buzz. The hope is that, by sharing responsibility, The Buzz can be a community center of the three villages, run by the three villages, and funded fairly by the three villages.

The three chairs are a long way from making a recommendation on how that might happen, or even how to proceed. We have many local models of joint collaboration such as the Arden Craft Shop Museum, the Arden Community Recreation Association, the Arden Club, and the Arden Building & Loan. Tomorrow the three chairs will meet with the town attorney, Ted Rosenthal, to get his perspective. Before the process is done, everyone will have a chance to contribute their ideas. Eventually it will be up to the three villages to accept whatever plan is finalized.

Jim Schwaber’s letter, notes from our first meeting, and this report of mine can be found on www.TheArdens.com. Also there, you will find Connee McKinney’s 100-page history of the Buzz Ware Village Center, written in 2004.