Beach Replenishment Project To Impact Fenwick’s Summer Season

Beach Replenishment Project To Impact Fenwick’s Summer Season
A previous beach replenishment project is pictured in Fenwick Island. File Photo

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island say delays in a beach replenishment project will impact the town’s busiest summer month.

As a beach replenishment project makes its way south, Fenwick Island Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said residents and visitors can expect disruptions this summer.

“As it stands now, the Army Corp of Engineers are estimating that they will get to us at the beginning of July and be here for roughly two weeks,” she said this week. “This estimate is weather dependent and may also be altered due to factors from their other work that they are performing for our northern neighbors.”

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. And in December, USACE announced it had awarded a $23.8 million contract to Weeks Marine to conduct periodic nourishment along the Delaware coast. The contract calls for dredging sand from offshore borrow sites, pumping it onto the beaches through a series of pipes, and grading it into an engineered dune and berm template, which is designed to reduce damages from coastal storm events.

In Rehoboth Beach, 196,000 cubic yards of sand is being placed on the beach in the northern portion of the community between North Surf Avenue south to the bandstand area. And in Dewey Beach, 194,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed on the beach between Salisbury Street and Beach Avenue area.

The project will then move to Bethany Beach, where 245,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed from Third Street to Wellington Park, followed by South Bethany, where 287,000 cubic yards will be placed from North 5th Street to the north end of Fenwick Island State Park.

Fenwick Island will be the last town to receive beach renourishment, Magdeburger explained this week. The USACE reports 207,000 cubic yards will be placed from James Street south to Lighthouse Road.

“Our northern neighbors have historically gone first,” Magdeburger said. “They serve larger communities and they also suffered greater loss of their beaches in the Mother’s Day storm last year as well as Hurricane Ian. Despite being disappointed, it follows the Army Corps’ logistical model to do projects of greater need and greater impact first.”

Magdeburger said she has reached out to USACE Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Ramon Brigantti in regard to the July start date in Fenwick Island.

“He expressed his sincere apologies about the delay but also explained that there are only a few companies on the east coast that are able to perform beach replenishment and they are fully scheduled,” she explained. “I have come to appreciate the attention to detail that Lt. Col. Brigantti exhibits and, despite being frustrated by the delay and concerned about the impact, I accept his explanation.”

Magdeburger noted the benefits of having a beach renourishment project outweigh any disruptions that could occur.

“The Army Corp of Engineers along with DNREC have done a very good job of creating a dune system for Fenwick which has protected us from breaches during major storm events,” she said. “We are thankful for their expertise and while we all would have been much happier to have followed the original fall/winter schedule, we are left with adapting to the schedule which is in place now.”

She continued, “I recently reviewed pictures of the Nor’easter of 1962 and the alternative to beach replenishment could be catastrophic. So while we are very disappointed by the delays and the impact Fenwick will suffer, we are also thankful that the Army Corp put Fenwick on their list so that our community is better prepared to weather the devastating effects a major storm could have on our Town.”

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.