By Carol Vaughn —
Alice Burton, of a northern Virginia animal rescue group, during the public comment period spoke about her experiences over the past decade in coming to Chincoteague to do trap-neuter-return of feral cats.
Burton said the first time the group came “everybody on the island was pretty much hostile.”
More recently, residents have been supportive, including cooking dinners and providing housing for the group, Burton said.
“I know that you had a complaint at one of your council meetings and I wanted to address that,” said Burton, who formerly worked in animal control in Arlington, Va., and recently was appointed education advisory council chairperson of Chincoteague Island Community Cats.
Burton went by the residence about which the complaint was made.
“He is putting up a six-foot privacy fence in about 11 days,” Burton said of the resident.
Burton said if council receives complaints about cats in town, members may contact Burton.
“Please let me speak with them,” Burton said.
Julie Brommer, president of Chincoteague Island Community Cats, said the group’s mission “starts out with community support and it talks about finding compassionate solutions for island cats.”
“…It’s not appropriate for cats to destroy people’s property or cause problems for neighbors; however, there are humane deterrents and there are ways that we can work if we are allowed the time and the opportunity to do that,” Brommer said.
Ginger Birch also spoke on behalf of the town’s cats, saying she has been involved in trap-neuter-release for over 20 years. “These kitties didn’t fall from the sky; these kitties are abandoned from people that have taken care of them and they move away and just leave the kitties,” she said.
American Rescue Plan Act
Chincoteague received its first deposit of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, around $1.491 million, according to Town Manager Mike Tolbert.
Chincoteaue is due to receive two payments, totaling $2.98 million, with the second part coming in about 12 months.
The council will hear comment on using the funds at a public hearing at the workshop meeting Thursday, July 15, at 5 p.m.
Causeway Improvements Requested
Tolbert has spoken with Chris Isdell of the Virginia Department of Transportation several times in the past two weeks and said Isdell “is committed to working with us on our causeway issues.”
Sealing work on the Mosquito Creek and Cockle Creek bridges on the causeway was completed June 22.
Permanent lines, center line reflectors, and rumble strip installation (to the pumphouse) turn will be completed by July 17 unless work is delayed by weather.
“We did request formally that VDOT consider adding some signs on the causeway, per the council’s recommendation, adding rumble strips from the pumphouse turn to the drawbridge, and we did also ask them to consider including edge-line reflectors,” Tolbert said.
The requests were made in writing.
Additionally, a traffic count was done June 25 related to the town’s request about traffic signal issues at the Maddox Boulevard/Main Street intersection.
All three signals on Maddox were reprogrammed to work together to coordinate movement of traffic on the road. The program was installed June 30.
“Early results are encouraging,” Tolbert said in his report, but he noted during the meeting there were still backups over the weekend, likely due to the dense amount of traffic over the holiday weekend.
VDOT has “committed to working with us on this and tweaking the lights as it becomes necessary,” Tolbert said.
The town submitted an official request to VDOT asking the agency to reprioritize causeway projects, with the number one priority being to add shoulders, number two being to raise the intersection at Maddox Boulevard, and number three being to raise the road base of the entire causeway to limit closures, Tolbert said, adding requests were made to Accomack County and the A-NPDC to send similar requests to VDOT.
Accident Scene Investigation Tool Purchase Approved
After a recent fatal crash on the causeway, delays in the crash scene investigation halted all access to Chincoteague for more than six hours “where nothing got through in either direction, including ambulances or emergency vehicles,” Tolbert said.
The next day, Tolbert and police chief R. K. Fisher spoke with 1st Sgt. Kevin Myers of the Virginia State Police Melfa barracks.
Myers said a malfunctioning piece of equipment used to investigate the crash scene was at fault for the lengthy delay.
A new piece of equipment that requires only one trooper to use, which costs $16,500, could speed up forensic investigation of crash scenes if available on the Eastern Shore, Tolbert said, adding Myers said troopers on the Eastern Shore already are trained to use the equipment.
The town council unanimously approved donating up to $5,500 toward purchase of the equipment.
Tolbert asked Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason to put on the Accomack County Board of Supervisors July agenda a request for the county to donate 1/3 the total cost, and is asking Northampton County to also donate 1/3 the cost.
If the equipment is purchased with local funds and donated to the Virginia State Police, it would remain on the Eastern Shore.
A two-year-old kayak ramp at Memorial Park that collapsed was removed, according to Mayor J. Arthur Leonard.
The council approved the Harbor Committee’s recommendation to replace the ramp with a floating lauch platform. The cost, including boarding gangway and installation, is just under $30,000 and it will take four to six weeks to be delivered.
Enough money is in the boat ramp long-term replacement fund to cover the cost.
Detached quarters proposal
The council voted to send to the planning commission for its recommendation a proposal to allow detached quarters in the R-1 zoning district. Detached quarters are allowed by right in other residential districts in town.