Dredging Effort Gets Funding Boost

FENWICK ISLAND – An additional $15,000 is expected to help a Fenwick Island committee further its efforts to secure a dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council agreed to establish a $15,000 budget for the Fenwick Island Dredging Committee to complete soil testing, pay for consulting services and fund permits and application preparation as it moves forward in a lengthy process to secure a dredging project in the town’s neighboring bay.

Town Manager Terry Tieman said staff recommended $15,000 be taken out of the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) reserve to fund the budget request.

“This would be a budget revision,” she said. “We are requesting the money out of RTT. Even with doing that, the RTT fund is in compliance with our reserve policy.”

Specifically, $6,200 would be used to pay Coastal & Estuarine Research Inc. to prepare state and federal permit applications and present the proposed Fenwick Island channel dredging project to state and federal representatives, while $5,840 will be used to pay John D. Hynes & Associates Inc. to complete soil testing in the north channel of Little Assawoman Bay. The remaining $2,960 will be used to pay Tony Pratt – a retired administrator with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – for consulting services.

Councilman Bernie Merritt, chairman of the dredging committee, said the money will be used to bring a plan for the dredging project before state and federal officials.

“We are at the point now where we need to put a plan in place and take it to the state,” he said. “That way the state takes a review of it, looks at it and can tell us where the holes are.”

Merritt said once soil testing is completed at the north end of the Little Assawoman Bay, town and Coastal & Estuarine Research officials will arrange meetings with various stakeholders and gather information on how much the proposed project would cost.

“That is what the budget amendment is for,” Tieman added, “to proceed.”

Councilman Roy Williams questioned if the committee’s efforts would require any additional funding in the future.

“Would this be the last study or last type of expenditure?” he asked.

Merritt said there would be no way of knowing what the committee would need moving forward.

“It’s hard to say yes to that …,” he said. “I think this moves the ball pretty far forward as far as understanding what we need to do to move forward with permitting, the types of dredging we can do, etcetera.”

While the $15,000 is expected to move the town forward in its dredging efforts, Merritt said a plan will also give officials a better understanding of how much a dredging project would cost.

“We are hoping to get a price and begin to seek funding …,” he said. “Right now, it’s just estimates. We don’t have any hard facts.”

With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to accept the $15,000 budget request.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.