Community Members Call for County Funding for Bethany Beach Replenishment
Damage from January Storm is still evident in Bethany Beach (Photo: Amber Muehlemann/WBOC)
Some dune still remains in Bethany Beach (Photo: Amber Muehlemann/WBOC)
BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Just over a week after WBOC broke the news that Bethany Beach would not be receiving federal funding, town leaders are now looking to the county for help. Although no official request has been made, town leaders told WBOC that they are hoping that Sussex County would contribute funding for replenishment projects.
"Nothing has been proposed," said County Councilman George Cole, from District 4. "Nothing has been put on the table. But do I think the county should participate in some kind of funding mechanism to the beaches? If the towns are doing it, I think the county has an obligation to do it. At what extent though is up for debate."
All of this follows a federal decision by the Army Corps of Engineers that it will not be funding Bethany Beach replenishment in this year's work plan. The decision was a surprise to many town leaders and some Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials who said they expected that the communities of Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island would receive replenishment.
Cole said that filling the place of the federal government was a big task. However, he said some sort of investment may be possible.
"There's a lot to figure out," he said. "We should be part of the process."
Other councilmen were less enthusiastic about the idea of county funding. That included 5th District Councilman Rob Arlett, who said the price tag is a deterrent.
"I'm not convinced that it works," he said of replenishment. "And I'm not convinced that it is our role at the county council level."
Arlett said the council should look at what other beach communities are doing, in order to find a more effective solution.
"Are we putting a Band-Aid on it," he asked. "Or are we really solving quote end quote - the issue?"