FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island will not fund a $25,000 study to dredge the area’s waterways until they acquire more information.
In a Town Council meeting Friday, Councilman Richard Mais, chair of the ad hoc financial committee, informed officials of a proposed study that was brought to the group at its first meeting.
Although the study will be the first step in dredging the town’s canals, Mais said the committee will not recommend the proposal to the council until certain concerns were addressed.
“The committee spent quite a bit of time discussing that and thought that it was premature to recommend an expenditure of $25,000 without knowing the full scope of the project,” he said.
Mais explained that the committee expressed concerns about the affordability of the project and questioned if the town would even get approval from the state to dredge the canals. Yet, one of the group’s biggest worries, he said, was the shallow bay that lies beyond the canals.
“You may be able to get out of the canals,” he said, “but you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.”
The ad hoc financial committee was tasked with reviewing financial options for hydrographic survey proposals that the town’s environmental committee brought to the council in a prior meeting.
The environmental committee recommended that Gahagan and Bryant Associates, a national surveying company with an office in Wilmington, Del., submit cost proposals for the town’s consideration.
“Our recommendation at this time, until there is more information, is that it not be funded,” Mais said.
The council agreed to the committee’s decision, but Councilwoman Vicki Carmean inquired about other topic’s on the committee’s agenda, more specifically funding for sidewalk installation.
“You know for 15 years we’ve talked about this and for 15 years we’ve made no progress,” she said.
Mais said the topic was broached in the committee’s meeting but added not enough information was provided to make a recommendation to the council. He explained that inconsistencies with residential and commercial property lines, as well as collaboration between the town and state, will complicate the project.
“Sidewalks are going to be an issue, somewhat like dredging the canals,” he said. “It’s going to be a can of worms.”
Until then, Mais said those developing or redeveloping commercial properties in town are required to install sidewalks, which will take care of some portions of town until officials can earmark and acquire funds to construct walkways throughout the resort.
He said one of the committee’s members, Bill Weistling, estimates the construction will cost much more than $30,000 for each block.
“We talked about maybe doing incremental stages of the sidewalk,” he said.
Carmean liked the idea of setting up a fund to complete the sidewalk installation in stages.
“I think that it’s time that we set up a fund similar to what we have with parks and recreation so that some of that money is directed toward sidewalks, where we can at least make incremental progress,” she said.