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Fenwick takes major step in dredge project, awarding $2.08mm contract to JF Brennan by 7-0 vote

Town of Fenwick Island

Posted on July 8, 2024

The long-awaited dredging of two channels connecting Fenwick Island’s canals with the Little Assawoman Bay has taken a large step forward with the approval of a contract for the project.

The Fenwick Island Town Council approved the contract for the project, 7-0, with J.F. Brennan Co. of LaCross, Wisc. At $2.08 million, Brennan was the low bidder in the second round of contract bids, which was done after the first-round bids came back significantly higher than expected.

The council also approved 7-0 a land-access agreement with CMF Cannon LLC to deposit the dredged material on land near Papa Grande and Catch 54 restaurants west of Fenwick Island. The 2.5-acre property there will be used as a dewatering location for the dredged soil. Under terms of the agreement, the material must be placed on the land by Dec. 31, and the material must be tested before it is placed in “geo bags” to ensure that it meets criteria for land that is to be developed.

If any contaminants are found in the soil, another site will have to be found for it, Fenwick Island Dredge Committee Chairman William Rymer said.

In the second round of bids, the Town, as well as its engineering consultant, Anchor QEA, “were committed to identifying the most qualified, best bidder for this project,” Rymer said.

Previous work experience and overall reputation were among the criteria considered. Brennan met that criteria and also happened to be the lowest of the three bids received in the second round of bidding, he told the council.

The Sussex County Council has approved contributing $800,000 toward the $2.08 million bid cost. The Town also received $1 million toward the project from the State of Delaware.

Of the county council, which agreed to contribute the $800,000 after initially agreeing to $500,000, Rymer said, “They are truly supportive of trying to enhance navigation and promote boater safety in those channels. A lot of those folks are very familiar with our channels, with Little Assawoman Bay and how often they hit sandbars,” he said.

The second set of bidders each provided two sets of bids, reflecting two dredge depths, so that the Town could evaluate cost differentials between two potential dredge depths. The dredge committee, Rymer said, decided to go with the slightly deeper depth of mean-low-water minus 5 feet, with the feeling that the extra depth will “extend the useful life of this project,” Rymer said. The cost savings to go with a slightly shallower depth would have been about $200,000, he said.

The committee requested $545,000 from the Town for its share of the cost of the dredging project. The estimated $2.3 million total cost of the project includes navigational aids that the DNREC officials have said they will not replace. Rymer said the Town will go back to DNREC and request that the agency revisit that decision.

Dredging in the channels is set to begin in the fall.


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