FENWICK ISLAND – A new consultant is expected to help Fenwick Island and surrounding coastal communities further dredging and beach replenishment projects.
Last week, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to approve a consulting agreement with Tony Pratt, a retired administrator with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Mayor Gene Langan told the council the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT) – an advocacy group composed of representatives from seven coastal communities in Delaware – was looking to pool its resources to hire a consultant that would guide them through various dredging and beach replenishment projects.
“Our specific cost would be $3,500 per year,” he said. “We budgeted money for this in the budget for next year. I think it’s something we should do, and I wanted the council to have input on it before we do anything.”
Councilwoman Vicki Carmean questioned Pratt’s role.
“What exactly will he be doing?” she said.
Langan explained Pratt’s connections and knowledge of state funding and permitting would allow Fenwick Island and other ACT communities to seek funding and direction for various projects.
“For $3,500 he can help us a lot and help all the towns,” he said.
Councilman Bernie Merritt, chair of the town’s Dredging Committee, added Pratt would know where to find funds to dredge the Little Assawoman Bay.
“The roadmap he allows us to have is incredible,” he said.
Councilman Richard Mais noted Pratt’s extensive experience in state government.
“He worked with state government and the beaches primarily for 30-something years,” he said. “I think this is a small investment for a big return.”
Some on the council, however, were hesitant of the agreement. They said Pratt’s consulting work with Senator Tom Carper could present a conflict of interest.
“There is no question what an asset he is,” Councilwoman Julie Lee said. “I just think we need to be clear and explain in the contract … who he is consulting for.”
The council voted 7-0 to approve the consulting agreement with Pratt.
“We need somebody who knows how to travel the roads that we need to go down,” Carmean said.