Letters to the Editor -- January 15, 2010

Bellistri offers his opinion on dune

It seems there is a lack of understanding about beach replenishment. The latest letter written by Harry Steele, an ex-Bethany town councilperson, states, “If this dune were not of the design needed, we would have lost the bulkhead, boardwalk, businesses and homes of our neighbors and friends.”

Though it is impossible to determine if Mr. Steele’s dread scenario would or would not have come to pass, a reasonable person may be able to access a plausible scenario by looking at the beach just north of Bethany.

The fact is, Sussex Shores, without a “dune of the design needed,” sustained minimal damage; mostly dune fence and beach stairs. Thus, based on this empirical evidence, one might say the dune saved the dune.

Furthermore, Steele writes of a report from the University of Delaware that states for every dollar spent in beach replenishment, the state of Delaware receives $7 to $10 dollars in tourist related money (taxes).

Aside from this being a study paid with taxes to substantiate a project paid with taxes, let’s take it at face value. Here, Steele fails to recognize the difference between a dune and a beach. Tourists do not come to Bethany for the dune, they come for the beach.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s say the natural shore line lies approximately 150 feet from the bulkhead in Bethany. And let’s say we place a dune that is 125 feet in width in front of the bulkhead. Also we can logically assume that the beach will gravitate to its natural state over time. However, if this occurs, there will be a tragically tiny beach, or worse yet no beach, with waves lapping at a 10-foot wall of sand and no beach access. Sound familiar?

Historically, Bethany’s beach has been no more than 150 feet wide. A 25-foot-wide dune is adequate and currently still pretty much intact. If sand is added to Bethany, let it be added to a beach, not a dune. It is time for Bethany’s town council and town officials to take a stand and preserve the aesthetics and recreation that DNREC and the Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project disrupted.

Bethany’s beach is currently approximately 100 feet in width in most spots; the ocean is visible from the boardwalk; and there are sandbars forcing waves to break gradually, not as dangerous backbreaking shorebreak. Let’s thank Mother Nature for putting our beach back in order and, hopefully, DNREC and the Corps will have learned from their mistakes.

So I hope the above information helps Mr. Steele and others like him to make better, more informed decisions concerning beach replenishment.

Joe Bellistri
Bethany Beach

Writer disputes previous guest column

Some of my little friends and favorite newspaper columnists say there is no Santa Claus (So you’re thinking about a job in journalism, Coastal Point, Jan. 1, 2010). More precisely, they say that there’s no future for the profession I’ve devoted my life to.

Please tell me the truth. Is there a future in journalism?

Dick, to paraphrase, you and your friends wringing their hands over the loss of newspaper and broadcast jobs are wrong. “They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see.” What they see is the capitulation of an industry. What they see, sadly, is the consequences of a failure, for decades, of imagination by the media industry.

What they should see is that the need for prospective journalists like your buddy’s son has never been greater. There is an explosion of information. Consider 183 million Web sites, over 125 million bloggers, if anyone’s still counting – not including the 75 million in China. The printing press may be a relic. What the jobs are called may be changing.

But in an era of instant communications, when the airwaves have exploded with spin, posturing and angry rhetoric posing as fact, we as a community and as a nation desperately need people with the skills to ferret out credible information, to distill it, prioritize it, present it and explain it.

Journalism has never been about “really big bucks.” It’s always been about informing people and improving their lives. The reward was never the payday, but the satisfaction of discovery, discernment and disclosure. As someone who has worked as a reporter and editor since I was a third-grader, I’m thrilled that your buddy’s friend wants to be a journalist. We dare not stop him.

Jim Toedtman
Bethany Beach

Sprinkler system saves Hocker’s

A sprinkler system in our Hocker’s Super Center store prevented major damage to our business in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, 2010. A small fire was extinguished by the sprinklers, and we were very lucky to have only sustained minimal water damage to part of our building.

We would like to take this opportunity to praise the many volunteer firemen from our local companies who responded and helped to prevent further damage to our business. We would like to thank the Millville, Bethany Beach and Roxana fire companies for their rapid response to our alarm. Thanks also to the Rehoboth Fire Company for standing by, as well as the Delaware State Fire Marshall’s office for their investigation and response in those early morning hours.

Please remember the needs of these volunteer organizations when considering their donation requests. We need them and appreciate the many hours they contribute to keep our community safe.

The Hocker Family