Fenwick Shares Delays In Resiliency Plan Development

FENWICK ISLAND – With a town-wide resiliency study at a standstill, members of a Fenwick Island committee this week agreed to reach out to state officials to expedite the process.

In a Fenwick Island Infrastructure Committee meeting Tuesday, Councilman Richard Benn, committee chair, presented members with an update on a town-wide resiliency study.

While the town has received grant funding from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to complete the study, Benn told the committee this week the town was awaiting contract approval between the department and AECOM, the company the town selected to complete the project.

“DNREC gave us a grant to pay for the study, so we don’t have to use the town’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds …,” he explained. “It saved the town $50,000. The problem is the way the grant is awarded, DNREC is AECOM’s boss, and they have been hashing out wording in their contract.”

Late last year, the committee began working alongside officials to develop the scope of work for a proposed resiliency study and GIS mapping of the town. Officials say the goal of the project is to take a proactive approach to sea level rise and flooding through the development of short-, mid- and long-term solutions.

“This study is so important to us,” Benn said.

Since selecting AECOM to complete the work, the company has updated sea level rise maps and identified sea level ride projections.

But with the project now at a standstill, Benn told committee members this week he was looking to reach out to state representatives to expedite the process.

“The resiliency study is still, unfortunately, being held up by DNREC …,” he said. “So I’m reaching out.”

Representatives with AECOM also came before the committee this week to discuss alternative backflow preventers, which are used to address flooding along the bayside.

Benn also provided an update on traffic studies involving Bunting Avenue, Island Street and Maryland Street.

“They are zooming through there,” he said.

Been noted a Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) representative had visited Fenwick Island and would make recommendations to address traffic concerns in the area.

“He’s supposed to get back to me today,” he explained. “He’s been out to Fenwick Island, and he will tell us next steps and recommendations.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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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.