Central Delaware
Dover Human Relations Commission role tabled again

DOVER — The Legislative, Finance and Administrative Committee continued to discuss the role of the Dover Human Relations Commission and for the second straight meeting decided to table the matter for further review.

The committee has been tasked with deciding whether the commission is needed, if it is a duplication of services, if it should have a refined meeting schedule or if it should cut the number of members.

The commission was established to restore and rebuild the community in February 2002 after a two incidents in 2001.

Committee member Michael Rushe said it appears monthly meetings aren’t necessary because members don’t always show up, but regularly scheduled meetings are important.

“They need to be somewhat proactive,” he said, suggesting at least quarterly meetings when needed.
Bishop Gregory Gordon of My Brethren Ministries in Dover spoke on behalf of the commission.

“The Human Relations Commission is very instrumental,” he said.

The commission understands citizens and helps My Brethren Ministries find people jobs, Mr. Gordon said.

“We need the Human Relations Commission,” he said.

Mr. Rushe said any potential changes weren’t part of an effort to get rid of the commission, but rather to make it better.

Councilman Timothy Slavin suggested that in addition to meetings, the group should play an educative role within the community, possibly through establishing a series of workshops. He said this would allow the commission to meet without necessarily having quorum of members.

Former Delaware State University professor Dr. Jahi U. Issa said the city needed to do a better job communicating with all citizens and white citizens of Dover don’t have the same concerns and worries as black citizens.

Councilman William Hare loudly responded that this past weekend, his house was robbed while he and his family slept.

“You’re not the only who has fears,” he said.

After the moment passed, Mr. Slavin suggested the issue be tabled until the next meeting on July 22 for a continued discussion.

Councilman Sean Lynn requested that commission chairman Roy Sudler Jr. spread the word to all commission members about the future meeting. During Monday’s meeting, only two of 15 members were in the audience.

Four sites to be demolished
In city council news, four properties owned by Joe W. Burden Sr. of Dover were given an Aug. 26 deadline to make progress toward fixing major structural issues or face demolition.

The council voted in favor of this measure 5-2 on all four properties, with Councilmen Lynn and Slavin voting no.

The four properties — 45, 67 and 101 S. Queen St. and 43 S. Kirkwood St. — have had a total of 94 city code violations brought against them dating back to 1998.

The new deadline is 18 days later than the staff-recommended Aug. 8 deadline.

NAACP Delaware State Conference president Richard Smith and Mr. Gordon said they both had spoken to Mr. Burden and would support him through the process.

Mr. Smith said they weren’t playing games and were here to work with the property owner for real.

“We don’t just put our reputation on the line. We want Mr. Burden to be a part of the community,” he said.

Mr. Gordon said the plan was to sit down and review all Mr. Burden’s properties — he owns about 100 throughout the city — and decide which ones can be saved and which ones need to be let go.

“Sixty days would be better, but 50 days: OK. We can except it,” he said.

Planning director Ann Marie Townshend said fixing all the issues would be nearly impossible in the allotted time, but if progress was made, the city would work with Mr. Burden. At the very least, Ms. Townshend is looking for a structural engineering report or building plans to be done.

“These are going to be very costly repairs,” she said.

Staff writer Chris Flood can be reached at 741-8230 or