FENWICK ISLAND, Del.- Fenwick Island hopes to become more pedestrian friendly–and fast.
During a Pedestrian Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday morning, the committee presented engineering estimates for six blocks of sidewalks on Route One–from James Street to Essex Street. According to the Kercher Group the project would cost roughly $500,000– money the town says it doesn’t have. However, Committee head Vicki Carmean says the sidewalk funding could come from an upcoming bond bill.
“All of our plans end with a big if,” she says. “If this happens then maybe we can go forward. So we are hoping the bond bill is successful.”
Carmean says Fenwick Island is the only beach town in Sussex County without sidewalks, and they are needed for both business development and safety.
“We have visitors from all over that come that are unfamiliar with the traffic patterns and where they need to go to be safe,” she says. “It’s not unusual to see parents with a family, little ones on tricycles, bicycles, baby coaches, wagons and in order to get where they need to go they are forced out onto the road.”
Chasyn Beachley at the Fenwick Islander Bicycle Shop says sidewalks are a great start, but would like to see even more pedestrian improvements.
“It wouldn’t be as advantageous though being that bikes are not really riding on the sidewalk or anything like that,” he says. “I also feel like it would be nice to have something out of the highway […] kind of like some more trails.”
The committee agreed to look at hiring a lobbyist for funding if the bond bill doesn’t come through. But if money is secured, the committee voted to allow the engineer to start sidewalk designs as soon as July 1st.
“I would love to be able to turn the first shovel full of dirt over in September or October when our visitors begin to leave,” she says. “It’s all about safety and its all about being in a community so I’m hoping it will all work out.”
The Bethany Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the sidewalks, saying increased foot traffic creates economic benefits.
“There are tons of walkability studies that just show the impact,” Executive Director Lauren Weaver says. “Especially in a tourist, resort area where connecting those dots and allowing for people of all shapes and sizes and ages to be able to travel safely [it] really can be a big boost to the business community.”
For more on the Fenwick sidewalks’ history, click here.