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Bethany Beach Looks to Lobby for Beach Replenishment

Posted on November 22, 2016

By Laura Walter, Coastal Point

It’s not a beach without sand, and local coastal towns are meeting to discuss beach replenishment and possibly lobbying federal agencies for previously promised funding.

Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon said at Monday’s council workshop that he planned to meet this week with South Bethany, Fenwick Island and Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) officials.

“I think it would be good if we had a concerted … effort” to ensure southern beach towns are included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ next budget for beach replenishment, Gordon said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper’s office suggested that the local towns “lobby the Corps as quickly as possible to get into their funding cycle,” said Town Manager Cliff Graviet.

Graviet has drafted a letter for the mayors to consider, and perhaps sign and send. The Bethany Beach Town Council supported that action at their Nov. 14 workshop.

Mostly funded by the federal government, beach replenishment helps to build sand dunes that protect homes, businesses and infrastructure. The wide beaches also draw visitors and valuable tourism dollars. The result is a cost-benefit ratio that the town’s tout strongly in seeking federal and state funding for their beaches.

The next local nourishment project was slated for the fall of 2017, for the towns of Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island. However, that three-year cycle is always at the mercy of Army Corps funding (itself at the mercy of the federal budget), and some are worried that it won’t happen.

“Rehoboth and Dewey [Beaches] have replenishment. What’s happened here to us — I think this region south of the inlet needs to promote itself as much as possible, with the three towns,” Gordon said.

Those northern beaches were already scheduled for renourishment in 2016, which was lucky timing after January’s Winter Storm Jonas dragged sand away from Delaware’s Atlantic Coast.

Councilman Joseph Healy supported a united front.

“Funding is going to be a major issue over the next several years,” Healy said. “Delaware is going to attempt to do the 35 percent [match] on our end,” but the State could easily turn around and ask municipalities to start giving the State back a share of realty transfer taxes. “This isn’t about Bethany Beach. This is about the region,” he emphasized.

The discussion of the issue on Monday began with the suggestion of a beach replenishment action committee being created in the town but, for now, the council opted just to try to get those letters in the mail.

Next, Bethany Beach may propose a larger committee among the three towns. Later, there could even be coalition of coastal towns, Chambers of Commerce, legislators and other interested parties (although Gordon warned that large groups move more slowly).

Source: Coastal Point

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