County grant helps state police attain two new motorcycle; commissioners agree to charge organized groups from $400 to $600 per field to reserve them for season.

Two Harley Davidson motorcycles roared in the parking lot of the Kent County Administrative Complex on Aug. 26 as a gesture of gratitude.

The bikes are the first motorcycles to be used by state police in Kent County and are two of only six currently used by the state police throughout Delaware. The police were able to purchase the equipment through a $75,000 grant given to Troop 3 by the Kent County Levy Court in 2007.

Capt. Robert Hawkins, commander of Troop 3 in Camden, said the bikes already had been used to catch more than 40 speeding vehicles since their arrival in June.

“We squeezed every penny out of that grant,” Hawkins said. “They’ve been very productive so far in helping to slow down some traffic on some streets.”

One of the advantages of driving motorcycles is their ability to be parked in tight spaces not easily accessible to police cars, said Cpl. James Gooch Jr.
“People aren’t looking for them when they’re speeding down the road,” Gooch said, “but they might be able to spot a police car a mile away.”

Gooch, who recently was certified to drive one of the motorcycles, said the bikes also can travel on sidewalks, weave through highway traffic, and move through tight spaces between houses.

The grant was part of a larger sum given to the county and divided among municipalities and state law enforcement, said President P. Brooks Banta.

“I hope I never see the front end of one [of the motorcycles] in back of my car,” he added.

At its Aug. 26 meeting commissioners also approved a surcharge for leagues and organizations that reserve athletic fields at Big Oak, Browns Branch and Brecknock parks for exclusive use. The fee charges sports leagues between $400 and $600 per field for a full season of games at the county’s baseball and multi-purpose fields. Baseball fields also would be available for single-day and full weekend rentals at rates ranging from $50 to $150.

The fees will be charged May 1 through Sept. 1.

Introduced at the Aug. 4 planning commission meeting, the athletic field fees only would be charged to groups that are reserving fields. Park visitors still would be free to use the fields at any time unless they are reserved.
Money collected from the fees will be used to offset the cost of maintaining the fields. Currently, the county does not charge to use the fields.

Commissioners also approved a hike in other county fees, effective Oct. 1. The charges for recording deeds, mortgages and assignments would increase from $9 to $10 a page, and the fee for certified copies would jump from $5 to $7. The cost of mailing certified copies also would be raised by $1.

Commissioner Eric Buckson served as the sole opposition to the increase in the fees for the recorder of deeds office, saying that he did not think it was the right time to raise surcharges and that there wasn’t enough notice given to the public about the measure.