Despite mounting opposition from residents and local elected officials, the Social Security Administration office in Georgetown will relocate to Lewes this summer.

Despite mounting opposition from residents and local elected officials, the Social Security Administration office in Georgetown will relocate to Lewes this summer.

The office, now located on U.S. Route 113 North in the Georgetown Professional Park, will move to Vineyards at Nassau Valley, located at 12001 Old Vine Boulevard in Lewes.

“This move is a result of an open and competitive procurement for leased space that meets the SSA’s space requirements, accommodates their regional operations and offered the lowest overall commercial rent rate to the government,” said Gina Blyther Gilliam, a spokeswoman for the U.S. General Services Administration in Philadelphia. “By law, GSA must seek full and open competition for all leasing actions.”

This 12-mile move from the County Seat has sparked community opposition, with many saying the additional travel time will be inconvenient.

Millsboro resident George McCauley said he visits the Georgetown office once or twice a year and it would be more convenient if he didn’t have to travel the extra distance to Lewes.

“It’s a lot farther for me to travel,” McCauley said. “Plus, Georgetown is the center of the county. It makes more sense for [the office] to stay here.”

Laurel resident Robert Young said he doesn’t think the move is a big deal.

“I only visit the office about once a year,” Young said. “It will just take a little longer to get there. I’m not too worried about it.”

Several local elected officials have voiced their staunch opposition to the relocation, saying the move will hurt their constituents.

In mid-September, Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) sent a letter to Sara Manzano-Diaz, Mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the Government Services Agency in Philadelphia, saying the Georgetown office serves nearly 100 people every day, many of whom have retired to Delaware and rely on a close, responsive office. Carney voiced concerns regarding accessibility, summer traffic congestion and limited bus service at the Lewes location.

Carney also said there was not adequate public input prior to making a decision to move.

“Transparency and input from the public must be part of a decision-making process that will impact thousands of Social Security recipients in the community,” Carney wrote.

On behalf of the Sussex County Council, County Administrator Todd Lawson wrote a Nov. 6 letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) requesting the Delaware congressional delegation review the relocation.

“The relocation of the Social Security office to Lewes could have a significant effect on the residents of Sussex County,” Lawson wrote.

In a Nov. 15 letter to members Delaware’s congressional delegation, seven downstate members of the House of Representatives – including Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown), Danny Short (R-Seaford) and Dave Wilson (R-Cedar Creek Hundred) – protested the relocation, saying the change will have a “devastating impact” on the citizens of Sussex County.

The letter states the relocation will affect Georgetown’s current status as a one-stop shop for many residents, being home to offices like Sussex County government, various courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration, among others. The representatives also said the relocation will be problematic for those without regular transportation.

“Citizens residing on the western side of Sussex County will now have to drive or find transportation almost to the eastern most boundaries of Sussex County to reach the Social Security office,” the letter states.

Gilliam declined to respond to any of these specific concerns. She also declined to respond to questions regarding when a decision was made to move and why there was no opportunity for public input prior to finalizing a lease agreement in Lewes.

Katie Wilson, a spokeswoman for Carper, said the senator and his staff have been monitoring the situation closely since this summer.

“Sen. Carper’s office asked the SSA to provide detailed information about the decision to move, how the new location was selected and the anticipated community impact,” Wilson said. “Our office has not yet received all of the requested data, but Sen. Carper and his staff will continue to work with his constituents and the SSA to determine whether this new location in Lewes, along with the current offices in Dover, Cambridge, Md. and Salisbury, Md., are adequately serving the needs of Sussex County.”