Sussex County Delaware

County Council
Denies Request for
Harness Track

Sussex County Council ...

Cites Concerns About
Project's Feasability

Special to Sussex County Online

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council followed the unanimous recommendation of the county's Planning & Zoning Commission and unanimously denied an application by the owners of the Seacoast Speedway for a harness racing track with pari-mutuel wagering at its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2000.

Each councilman gave individual reasons for their no vote but the reasons split along two primary causes.

Council President Lynn Rogers and Councilman George Cole cited the limited amount of property space available for the expansion, which was to include construction of a 1/2-mile harness track around the existing 3/8-mile stock car track, a 600-seat enclosed grandstand, a 60-horse paddock and exhibit building, and two barns.

Also to be included was pari-mutuel wagering on the horse races two months a year as well as simulcasting from other horse tracks year-round.

The track's owners, Al and Bunnie Williams of Seaford, withdrew plans for slot machines from their original proposal but council felt, as did the planning and zoning commission, that the harness track wouldn't be feasible on its own and would require slot machines to support it as is the case at tracks in Harrington and Dover.

Cole said he looked at both of those tracks, as well as Delaware Park in Wilmington, and decided that Sussex County was too small to support such an operation.

Nearby residents have accepted the stock car track but the 30 or so homeowners whose homes abut the race track property were against the expansion proposed by the Williams.

Mapping and Addressing

Council granted an additional $151,600 to finish the 8-year county Mapping and Addressing project.

Again, Dennis Norwood, director of Mapping and Addressing, was before the county council asking for more time and the additional money.

Norwood said the money was to help name and address the roads and houses in subdivisions around the county.

The project, which was supposed to be finished last year according to members of the council, was ordered by the Delaware General Assembly to assist with emergency services.

Although the council approved the additional funds, Vance Phillips voted against it. Phillips said he was getting calls from constituents who are angry at the delays and could not justify giving the department any more time.

"If you'll just go ahead and give me my signs like I jokingly told you a few months ago, I'll go ahead and put them up myself," Councilman Dale Dukes said to Norwood.

Dukes was told earlier this year that the signs for his district were laying on the floor of the sign shop. Dukes has promised to call the local television stations so they can witness him placing the signs after George Cole said he would enjoy seeing Dukes install them.

The Sussex County Administrator, Robert "Bob" Stickels, came to Norwood's defense by stating if the project had been easy, someone else would have done it. Stickels was referring to the General Assembly passing the project to the county.

This project came in with Governor Thomas Carper and Carper may be long out of office before it is ever finished.

Council Meets 'Astronauts'

Twelve young astronauts representing the West Seaford Elementary school visited with the Sussex County Council to tell the council about their "Launching a Dream Project."

The 12 third graders, who were selected through interviews and writings, were chosen to participate in the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation (DASEF) program to conduct experiments with Caravel, a New Castle County school, at the Dover Air Force Base.

Their mission included designing, then launching, a space shuttle/bus "Explorer 2000" from their playground on May 24, 2000. Their shuttle had to contain all the things they would need for space experiments in space, according to Marcia Windley, teacher at West Seaford Elementary School.

The students traveled to the base on a Goodwill mission to conduct experiments with the other crew from New Castle.

Part of the Goodwill mission included an exchange of technology through the mail. Ben Anderson, Extra Vehicular Activity expert, was surprised that the Land Rover's made by students arrived safely to the mission control center in Seaford.

"Luckily, it's in one piece," Anderson told the council.

The project was a school wide activity with the other students acting in a support role, according to Windley.

Astronaut Shivani Agarwal said if you lined all the people needed to launch the space shuttle starting on the West Coast, it would end on the East Coast. This shows how important each student at the elementary school was to this endeavor.

Agarwal was also a member of the water experiment team. She said they discovered several things including that rainwater is cleaner to drink than tap water.

Shuttle Commander Emily Wheatley told the council how much she enjoyed being a part of the mission and that she was surprised to be named commander.

The two schools conducted several experiments as part of the Goodwill docking at Dover Air Force Base. The students enjoyed being a part of the project and are looking forward to their school participating again.

Windley said she wanted the council and others to hear something good about students. She added this was a chance for the council to meet some young Sussex Countians that they represent. This is the eighth year for this program in Delaware.

In other action, council ...
  • Announced the Milton Public Library will be selling a commemorative stamp second-day issue during the Delmarva Hot Air Balloon and Craft Festival in Milton on Saturday, June 10, 2000. The stamp will be available at the library station.

  • Issued a proclamation declaring Sunday, June 11, 2000 Carlene Jones Day. Jones is being honored for forty years of service to the 4H Organization on a local and county level.

  • The state personnel office will hold a job fair on Saturday, June 17, 2000 from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown. There will be 15 agencies and a workshop on "How to fill out a state application." It is a first come first serve basis.

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