Potential Path for Hydrants in Cheswold's Old Town - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Potential Path for Hydrants in Cheswold's Old Town

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The remains of a June 25 fire in Cheswold that left one person dead. The remains of a June 25 fire in Cheswold that left one person dead.

CHESWOLD, Del. -- State and town leaders say a recent meeting with a utility has opened the door for a potential plan to get water lines extended to Cheswold's "Old Town" and eventually bring fire hydrants to the area.

The development comes after a deadly apartment fire in late June that killed a woman. A number of fires have occurred in old town in recent years, a fact town leaders have pointed to in an effort to get fire hydrants installed in that area.

Old Town is served by wells, though former Mayor Don Tinari, a vocal advocate for bringing fire hydrants to Old Town, said the lack of hydrants is potentially dangerous since the nearest ones are not close to the the community.

Tinari said one particular concern lies with the fact that one of the hydrants used by firefighters is located near the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company's firehouse --- across a railroad crossing.

"If they run that hose and the train comes...There's kinds of things. You have to anticipate the worst case not the best."

Town leaders last week had a meeting at Legislative Hall in Dover with representatives from Tidewater Utilities, which serves other parts of Kent County and Cheswold.

Gerald Esposito, the president of Tidewater Utilities, said the utility could potentially bring a plan before the Public Service Commission to connect Old Town to its existing system.

That option may be the only way for Old Town to eventually get hydrants, since town officials have said Cheswold would likely be unable to pay for water lines itself.

Esposito also noted there's no formal proposal for the water lines yet and no timeline on the table.

State Rep. Trey Paradee (D-Dover West) helped convene the meeting and said it was a positive step forward to improving public safety in Cheswold.

"There were some conversations (in years past) that didn't really go anywhere but I think this time everybody is on board to make this a success," he said.

Longtime Old Town resident Evelyn Johnson, who said she's lived in Cheswold for eight decades, said water lines and fire hydrants should have been installed long ago and it shouldn't have taken someone's death to spark action.

"It's a shame," she said. "I just feel sorry for the family. They had to lose somebody."


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