FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island say delays in a beach replenishment project will likely impact the town’s summer season.
Last Friday, Mayor Natalie Magdeburger presented the Fenwick Island Town Council with an update on a beach replenishment project along Delaware’s coastline. While work was initially expected to start last fall, she said the timeline has since moved to the summer months.
“They are going to start – big surprise – in Rehoboth and work their way south,” she told community members last week. “And it is definitely going to go through the summer months. How far through the summer months, we don’t know.”
The state, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) typically performs beach nourishment projects in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island through a cost shared between the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and USACE.
The federal agency has developed a design that includes periodic nourishment at an interval between three and six years. Those projects, however, are dependent on the availability of funding at both the federal and state level.
In last week’s update, Magdeburger said she had recently met with USACE representatives and Sen. Tom Carper to discuss legislation that would provide funding for projects such as beach renourishment.
“They’ve also gotten a priority area, which each county in Delaware will fall into to get authorizing money for environmental infrastructure work,” she said. “It’s $35 million per county. My guess is there will be a lot of people standing in line to get that money, and it’s won’t go very far, but it was a good thing to hear.”
Magdeburger said the legislation would impact Delaware’s coastal communities.
“For some of our coastal communities to the north of us, they really took a hit during the Mother’s Day storm, but because it didn’t qualify for national relief efforts, nothing could really be done to replenish it …,” she explained. “This language should hopefully make it easier to get funding and assistance when there are those types of disasters.”
Magdeburger said this year’s beach replenishment project is now expected to being in either March or April and continue throughout the summer months.
“My prediction is it’s going to be the middle of summer by the time they get here …,” she said. “We are going to be at the Army Corps of Engineers’ mercy, and I suspect I will be making announcements of dune and block closures during the summer months. As soon as I have information, I will provide it to everybody.”