County To Seek Federal Help With Eroding Shoreline

WEST OCEAN CITY – A dramatic increase in erosion along the area formerly known as “stinky beach” has prompted the County Commissioners to seek assistance from the federal government.

Buck Mann, managing agent of Harbor Lights Condominium, came before the commissioners Tuesday to brief them on a recent spike in erosion levels along the condominium’s bayside property.

Mann called the current erosion problems a “jeopardy situation” and warned the commissioners that action needed to be taken to combat the issue in the near future.

“It’s a serious situation,” Mann said. “I think if it gets too out of hand we’ll be forever correcting it.”

Stacy Hart, president of J. Stacy Hart and Associates, accompanied Mann as a consultant and explained dangerous erosion had been noticed when two surveys were conducted, the first of which took place last January while the most recent was done only last week.

“With the two surveys, you can really see what’s going on,” stated Hart. “Sands are moving everywhere.”

In a written report, Hart suggested a recent increase in precipitation, combined with powerful storms and low winter temperatures over the last few years may have contributed to the shoreline issues. However, Hart also mentioned the possibility that work performed by the Army Corps of Engineers to shore up Assateague Island may also have played a part in the current situation.

Hart also warned that Harbor Light Properties weren’t the only ones placed in danger by the erosion.

“This is not an isolated issue,” she told the assembly. “It’s a regional problem.”

After reviewing several elevation maps, pictures and a string of data, Commission President Bud Church attempted to frame the complex problem in layman’s terms.

“So the long and short of it is we have a major, major washout?” he asked. “And time is of the essence?”

“Yes,” responded Hart. “Oh yes.”

When asked what the commission could do to help, Mann said, “We’re not looking for a bag full of money to correct the problem.”

Instead, he proposed a letter endorsed by the commissioners that could be sent to Annapolis with the eventual hope that the Army Corps of Engineers could be brought back to the area to address the growing erosion.

The commissioners quickly agreed, asking Hart to help draft a letter with the appropriate information that the commission could then sign off on.