FENWICK ISLAND – As officials in Fenwick Island prepare for a town-wide drainage study, project consultants came before a resort committee last week with an overview of the work to be completed.
Last week, representatives with GMB, a local engineering firm, came before the Fenwick Island Infrastructure Committee to discuss the specifications of a proposed drainage study. Town Manager Terry Tieman said the meeting would allow committee members to review the scope of work.
“Before we proceed with putting numbers to it, we want to make sure that you all, the infrastructure committee, have had a chance to review it,” she said, “and we can tweak the scope of work to include everything that needs to be included.”
Tieman said council members last year expressed their desires for a drainage study. She said the proposed plan would include phases, priorities, project scopes and budget ranges for resiliency projects in town.
“We wanted them to look at everything and give us a five- or 10-year action plan of how we can better mitigate flooding …,” she said. “We cannot fix the flooding. We are at sea level, sometimes two feet above sea level, and we can do some things to mitigate it. But to fix it is not possible from the town’s perspective. It’s going to require participation by the state and federal government and by property owners of Fenwick Island.”
Consultant Brent Jett told committee members last week GMB has proposed reviewing previous studies and updating GIS maps to before meeting with community members later this year. He said the public’s comments would help engineers to identify areas with frequent flooding issues.
“I can tell you where some of the problems are, but having the public engagement is really going to tell me where the true problem is,” he said.
Using public comments, Jett said GMB would draft a resiliency plan that would go back to community stakeholders for review. He said he expects a final plan to be completed by next spring.
Councilman Bernie Merritt, committee chair, said the study would identify existing conditions and develop short- and long-term solutions to the town’s flooding issues.
“Folks around town are getting pretty frustrated,” he said. “It seems like we’re getting flooded more and more. We can’t stop it, but the town wants to do as much as it can.”
Jett said GMB could also help the town apply for federal funding. He noted money the town receives from the American Rescue Plan Act could also be used to fund some projects.
“My personal thoughts are this is a great idea,” Public Works Manager Mike Locke said. “It will be helpful in so many ways.”
During public comments, Councilwoman Vicki Carmean questioned the study’s price tag. Tieman said officials were waiting for GMB to provide the town with a final project proposal and cost estimate.
“They are still in the process of scoping the project,” she replied. “Once it’s fully scoped – and this [meeting] is part of scoping it – they will present us with an estimate and council will have to decide whether to fund it or not.”