High Street is over halfway completed

By Tony E. Windsor

For those who have wrestled with the frustrations caused by the major construction project along the High Street area of Seaford for the past 16 weeks, there is some comforting news from city hall. That news is that the project is now over halfway done.
Seaford engineer Judy Schwartz, of George, Miles, and Buhr, Inc., was on hand for a recent progress report and told an audience of largely downtown-area business owners and residents that there were now "13 weeks to go."
The progress report, given on Tuesday, April 25, was one in a series of such meetings hosted by the City of Seaford as a means to help keep businesses and residents up to date on issues surrounding the downtown "streetscape" project.
Schwartz said that the project was able to make some gains in terms of completed work last month, however recent rains have created a delay in getting necessary concrete installed for the new pavements.
She said, however, even with the rains, crews have been able to continue working on having new utility lines installed underground.
Also included in the good news is that crews have been successful in completing curb and sidewalks on two portions of High Street from the Deep Cut railroad bridge, east to Spring Street and from Pine Street, east to Arch Street. Schwartz said the project is most likely looking at about four more weeks of curb and sidewalk work. She said the landscaping, which includes the planting of trees and shrubs, should begin this week.
Seaford Mayor Daniel B. Short told those gathered for the city meeting that he shares their concerns about some of the inconveniences caused by the construction work, but hopes everyone will recognize the significant scope of the project and how positive the impact will be once it is completed. "I was looking at some of the figures associated with the work being done downtown and you quickly realize the magnitude of this project," he said. "For instance, when we look at the landscaping work that simply addresses the aesthetic quality, such as trees, flowers and shrubs we have $52,000 invested in plants alone. This is a major project."
Schwartz said restoring two-way traffic along High Street is another positive aspect that has come about in recent weeks. She said this was accomplished once crews completed the demolition of existing sidewalks and curbs to make ready for installing utility lines.
But, Schwartz also warned that once crews begin to mill and repave the actual High Street surface, it will be necessary to implement special detours and some one-way traffic again.

This street work is expected to begin at the end of June and continue until the project is completed in late July. On the positive side, Schwartz indicated that by the time the street resurfacing begins, sidewalks and curbing should be completed making for a much more pleasant pathway for downtown pedestrians. She said the street work will be done in small sections to minimize the impact on the downtown traffic flow.
In the next month, Schwartz said she expects those traveling downtown to see the culmination of project components to become much more visible. Such things as completed sidewalks and curbing, newly planted trees, flowers and shrubs, water sprinkler systems, as well as new street lights, will begin to rise out of the rubble that is now the landscape of the downtown High Street area.
Short interrupted the meeting long enough to allow the group to watch a local television news report covering the downtown construction work and the impact it is having on downtown businesses.
This is the wake of recent complaints from business people that were printed in an article that appeared in the Seaford Star newspaper last week.
Short expressed his frustration at having people complain, yet not attend the scheduled progress meetings to express their concerns. "I keep track of the names of those people who attend any of the meetings that we hold here at city hall each month," Short said. "The people who complain the most are not here. I don't take the comments very seriously from these people who say they have attended these meetings and have been dissatisfied, when they only come to one meeting.
"I understand the economics and certainly sympathize with how this project has impacted the downtown area. I think, however, we need to focus on how much this will positively impact this area once the job is completed."
Short said, however, that the improvement project can't stop once the construction work is completed. "We need to continue marketing efforts," he said. "The downtown merchants and city must work together to help bring in new businesses that can enjoy the nice downtown area we will have." He also offered the city's assistance in developing creative ways to help offset some of the detrimental economic hardships felt during the construction project. "There is a beautiful open area in one of our busiest intersections [High and Market streets] that could be utilized for holding a flea market or a tent sale," he said. "The city will certainly make that available for such a project and even supply the tent."
In closing the meeting, Short encouraged those in attendance to come back for the next progress meeting, to be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 23, at city hall on King Street. "It is important that we get the feedback from the community. Whatever you want to talk about, we are here for that purpose," he said. .