DelDOT says its not the bad guy when it comes to Chrismas tree lot in Newark

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The Delaware Department of Transportation is taking pains to not be seen as the Grinch that Stole Christmas when it comes to a Christmas tree lot on Elkton Road,  operated by a local Boy Scout troop. The agency has been under fire downstate for land deals and problems related to the Indian River Bridge project and does not  need more negative PR.

Still, this weekend,  Brookside-based Boy Scout Troop 603 is expected   move its  lot to a site off Marrows Road  in Brookside,  southeast of  the city of Newark. The problem facing  Scouts  is  a two-year construction project on Elkton Road that has made access to the lot more difficult.

“At no time have they been denied the ability to sell their trees or told they could not continue,”  said Mike Williams, public relations  director for DelDOT in an e- mail response.

Williams confirmed in the e-mail that the traffic pattern around the lot was switched as part of the project. The change  eliminated the  shoulder in front of the tree lot that was previously used for parking.

According to Williams,   two suggestions were made. The first would  have cars pull into the lot to load the trees and the second was to request Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Co.  (at an adjacent parcel) if their parking lot could be used.

Calling the situation a nightmare, Debra Pragg, who has been associated with Troop 603  and the tree lot for many years,  said lot   is not paved and that wet weather could lead to a muddy mess  for tree shoppers.  With the   forecast calling for rain on Sunday,  it was decided to move the lot to the Marrows Road site, next to a baseball field.

Pragg said the troop was given no notice about the traffic changes, adding that a new site will also be needed for  next year, due to the ongoing construction. According to Pragg, Troop 603 has operated the tree lot since 1964.

The tree business has not been easy the  troop, which relies on the sales as a major source of funds for its activities.  Pragg said.  The troop was also not  included in a listing of tree lots by the state’s largest newspaper, the News Journal.

In addition to challenges that come with the current economy, the lot has seen stiff competition from artificial trees, Pragg said.

“We have our regulars,” she said, but added that numbers have dropped.

The new  Boy Scout lot is also a short distance away from another longtime holiday fixture in the  area, the Brookside Lions tree lot.

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