October 2, 2019 Meeting at Kathleen Wilbur Elementary School

The community meeting on October 2, 2019 at the Kathleen Wilbur Elementary School was supposed to be about getting answers to the questions posed at the July 2, 2019 meeting at the Delaware City Library.

Sadly, the October 2 meeting failed to provide most of those answers. During a frustrating and contentious meeting, the bright spot was New Castle County Councilman Bill Bell’s calm and responsive voice.

New Castle County Councilman Bill Bell has heard and listened to his constituents’ concerns about The Refuge. He and the New Castle County Land Use Department have done their jobs and are addressing our concerns to the best of their ability. The speakers from New Castle County, including Councilman Bell, Assistant Land Use Manager Jim Smith, and Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle were each well received because they clearly wanted to know our concerns and responded openly and directly to questions.

We learned from the County that the heavy equipment at The Refuge must go. No more jackhammer training in your back yard! We also learned that while residential institutional use is permitted once applied for, non-residential programs such as a clinic or a work release training program are NOT permitted under current zoning.

State Representative Valerie Longhurst and State Senator Nicole Poore were conspicuously silent in responding to their constituents’ specific concerns. Rather than answer the questions they each received at the previous July 2, 2019 meeting about the Refuge, they chose to have representatives from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC), and the site owner and operators speak about what they do and how important their work is. These representatives did not want to know our concerns and did not give answers to our questions.

Our State elected officials had three months to respond to the questions they received in July. At last night’s meeting I placed handouts with those questions on the sign-in table staffed by the State elected officials’ assistants. Repeatedly, the stack of handouts was removed from the table. After the second time, I began handing out copies to arriving neighbors.

Both Representative Longhurst and Senator Poore avoided answering those questions. Representative Longhurst went a step farther when she decided to publicly support the primary challenger to Councilman Bell. Representative Longhurst is working against the person (Councilman Bell) who is working for us.

If one were inclined to return the favor, one would encourage every disaffected voter to register as a Democrat in order to be able to vote against the incumbent in the primary election. Party registration does not restrict a voter’s choice in the general election; it gives a voter two swings of the bat, one in the primary and one in the general. Batter up!

You can change your political party affiliation any time except from the last Saturday in May (May 30, 2020) through the date of the primary election, currently scheduled for September 15, 2020. (See https://elections.delaware.gov/voter/votereg.shtml#when2.) Better yet, do it now online at https://ivote.de.gov/voterlogin.aspx.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to adjust your elected officials rating here: https://movetherefuge.com/elected-officials/. (You’ll need to be signed in as a registered user.)

This May 12, 2019 comment thread at DelawareLiberal.net implies that Kevin Caneco was considering making a primary challenge to State Senator Nicole Poore. See

This September 21, 2019 post at Kevin Caneco’s Facebook page shows that State Representative Valerie Longhurst is the Featured Supporter at Kevin Caneco’s October 9, 2019 Kickoff Fundraiser. See https://www.facebook.com/pg/Canecoaroundthe12th/posts/

News coverage:

WDEL article: Neighbors of Bear-area substance abuse center angry at lack of community input

News Journal article: State officials, community clash over Bear-area residential drug treatment home

News Journal video: Contentious meeting yields noise, few answers for neighbors of treatment facility

News Journal article: Treatment centers for addiction face a backlash, despite opioid crisis