Council OK’s Bay Sediment Testing Request

FENWICK ISLAND – Additional sediment testing will allow negotiations to continue regarding a dredging project in the Little Assawoman Bay.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council approved a request from Councilman Bill Rymer, chair of the town’s dredging committee, to proceed with additional sediment testing in the Little Assawoman Bay at a cost of $23,000. In a memo issued last week, Rymer said the testing will allow negotiations to continue between the town and Carl M. Freeman Companies, the local developer looking to place the dredged material on its nearby property.

“In connection with contract negotiations with a local developer, it was determined additional sampling and testing of sediment in the two boating channels would be necessary to support the placement of dredged materials at that location,” he wrote. “The testing performed 16 months ago was not sufficient for the dredging permit applications, but this additional testing will provide the necessary support that the materials are suitable for usage in that residential development.”

In recent months, members of the town’s dredging committee have continued to explore potential placement sites for material that will ultimately be dredged from the bay. Potential placement locations include Seal Island, Seatowne – a residential community north of Fenwick – and a parcel of land off Route 54 owned by Carl M. Freeman Companies.

In January, the town began working with its solicitor’s office, and a specialized environmental attorney, to draft a legal agreement that could bring a partnership between the developer and Fenwick Island to fruition. In a statement last week, Rymer said the additional sediment testing will allow those negotiations to continue.

“This was just recently determined and normally would’ve been discussed at a dredging committee meeting first and then recommended to town council,” he wrote. “However, given the tight timeframe to accomplish the testing and review the results, this request was made directly to the town council.”

In last week’s meeting, Councilwoman Janice Bortner questioned how many sediment testings the town had recently performed. Councilman Richard Benn said previous rounds of testing did not include the samplings needed for negotiations to continue.

“The bottom line is, if they do find something, it’s material we shouldn’t have moved anyways,” he said. “While it’s a big expense, I do believe it’s necessary to further this along and get this done so we can meet the dredging window.”

After further discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Rymer absent, to approve the request for sediment testing.

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.