Posts Tagged ‘John Mateyko’

Circle off limits to Lewes protesters

September 18, 2009

Prior to the Thursday, Sept. 10, Sussex County Planning and Zoning public hearing on the Village Centre rezoning request, several Lewes residents planned a protest on The Circle to draw attention to their opposition to the application.

As the protesters, holding up their signs in a pouring rain about 5 p.m., assembled along the curb around The Circle, Georgetown Town Manager Gene Dvornick greeted them.

He explained to the group they weren’t permitted to gather on The Circle because irrigation work was taking place. A yellow rope tied to light posts encircled the circle warning people to stay away.

The Lewes group was asked to take their protest to the sidewalks in front of the administration building, as long as pedestrian access was not denied.

During this discussion, Georgetown Mayor Ed Lambden and two Georgetown police officers also appeared. The mayor must have just come from work because he was still in his U.S. Postal Service uniform.

Some of the Lewes protesters got into rather long discussions with the officers, but eventually all moved off The Circle. That group must have been reliving their days of taking it to “the man.”

Although there has been some controversy about other crowd estimates in the news lately, this group of protesters was easy to count and numbered about 30. What was the average age of the protesters? Let’s say most qualified for Social Security several years ago.

I guess the Georgetown officials were expecting a gang of Lewes hooligans and were prepared for a large-scale protest.

To be honest, it seemed a little surreal to see the highest-ranking officials in Georgetown and two police officers watching over a small group of mostly senior citizens huddled together in the rain holding up signs.

John Mateyko, organizer of the Lewes protesters, said the city manager told him “you can’t be here.” He said the group did not have a permit, but one is not needed in a public area like The Circle.

“We had a personality breakdown, and I decided not to push it,” Mateyko said.

And what about the closing of The Circle, the most logical of all places to voice your opinion in Sussex County?

After some investigative digging, I uncovered some information in the Georgetown Town Council minutes that irrigation work was scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 10. According to the minutes, pedestrians were to be kept off The Circle between noon and 2 p.m. for an irrigation inspection. Maybe the inspection went a little longer than anticipated.

The Lewes groups have planned another protest starting at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, prior to the county council public hearing. One can only wonder if more work will be taking place on The Circle.