Town Sells Old School, Parkland to Private Developer for $10

Early photo of 1912 Cape Charles School at Central Park

Early photo of 1912 Cape Charles School at Central Park

Cape Charles Wave

December 22, 2012

Christmas came early for Echelon Resources, Inc.  On Thursday, Cape Charles Mayor Dora Sullivan signed over the deed to the school building at Central Park to Echelon developers Edwin Gaskin and J. David McCormack. The building is slated to be converted into a 17-unit apartment complex.

The purchase price was $10, but the sales contract also states that the Town shall pay to Echelon the insurance proceeds received for earthquake damage to the property — approximately $41,000.

In addition to the school building, Echelon received the adjoining park basketball court and playground parking area. Both plots of land are intended to become private parking lots for the apartments in the school.

Town Council secretly decided to give the school and land to Echelon without putting the property up for bid.

Residents opposed to the giveaway have sued the Town and Echelon on the grounds that both the sale and the rezoning of the property were done illegally. A court date was originally set for December 17, but has been rescheduled for January 25 due to a heavy docket.

The Old School Cape Charles group maintains that Town Council violated state law by keeping its meetings with Echelon secret for almost six months. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act allows closed negotiation sessions only after a public motion that “identifies the subject matter.”

The law stipulates that “A general reference to . . . the subject matter of the closed meeting shall not be sufficient to satisfy the requirements for holding a closed meeting.” When voting to go into closed session, Town Council concealed the specific subject of the session. Only a general reference was made to an “Unsolicited Confidential Proposal.”

The Town also rejected Old School Cape Charles’ proposals without a vote in public session and ignored petitions from residents requesting time to put forward a public use plan for the building.

The Old School group is also contesting the rezoning of the school, basketball court, and playground parking from “Open Space” to “R-1 Residential.” Old School argues that the applications were defective, the action was contrary to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, and the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit to allow apartments in R-1 Residential constituted illegal spot zoning. [Read more…]


Elton Merritt, 80, Cape Charles Ferryman, Police Officer

December 22, 2012

Elton Merritt Sr., 80, a resident of Cape Charles, passed away Friday, December 21, at his home.

A celebration of life service will be held 11 a.m Thursday, December 27, at St. Charles Catholic Church with Father J. Michael Breslin officiating. Interment will follow in Cape Charles Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Eastern Shore S.P.C.A. Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 164, Onley, VA 23418. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

A native of Cape Charles, Mr. Merritt was the son of the late Isaac Lewis Merritt and the late Lillian Hux Merritt. He was a member of St. Charles Catholic Church. He worked on the Cape Charles ferries until they moved. He then went to work for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and then went to the Police Academy in Virginia Beach, where he graduated in the top of his class. [Read more…]

William ‘Jiggs’ Dunton, 94, WWII Veteran

December 21, 2012

William Edmund “Jiggs” Dunton, 94, of Exmore, son of the late Ernest Mapp Dunton, Sr., and Maggie Lankford Dunton, passed away Thursday, December 20,  in Nassawadox.

The funeral will be 2 p.m. Saturday, December 29, at Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore with the Rev. Alex Joyner officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Eastern Shore S.P.C.A. Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 164, Onley, VA 23418 or Belle Haven Presbyterian Church, c/o Nancy Bunce, P.O. Box 236, Nassawadox, VA 23413.

Jiggs was a native of the Eastern Shore who graduated from Franktown-Nassawadox High School. He received his B.S. degree in Agronomy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1940. He served with the United States Army in the Pacific campaign in World War II from 1942 to 1945. [Read more…]