It seems almost fitting that as another summer season winds down with the traditional jazz funeral in Bethany Beach, another near-tradition is beginning to find it’s own conclusion — the periodic question as to whether or not the Assawoman Canal will ever be dredged.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) officials began clearing trees along the banks of the canal this week. Yes, the Sierra Club has filed yet another appeal to stop the action, but this time it seems a bit more certain to come off than previous efforts.
We’ve heard all the arguments time after time for both sides of this issue. Those in favor say that larger watercraft will be able to navigate the canal, and deeper water will allow for more natural growth, as well as a freely-flowing waterway. Those opposed argue that dredging will disturb the natural order of things, that bigger watercraft means the end of a spectacular place to go kayaking and that speed limits will be hard, if not impossible, to enforce.
Valid arguments for both sides. Even within our office.
However, decision after decision has been made by state agencies that the canal could, and should, be dredged. Our Republican representative (Gerald Hocker) and Democratic state senator (George H. Bunting) are both on the side of dredging — mooting the potential argument that this is yet another partisan debate.
The fact of the matter is this project is a long time coming, and it’s time to let the decision stand. We agree, the dredging will impact what is a fabulous place for kayakers to enjoy solitude and natural splendor. And, we agree the speeding of boats is an important issue without a plausible answer.
However, it’s time to let go and allow the project to be completed. The courts have spoken. Respect that.
We can be pretty brutal on Sussex County Council in this spot for its propensity to allow for variances time after time — and we’ll probably continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out when governing bodies respect and adhere to codes. The Fenwick Island Board of Adjustments has granted one variance over the past two years. One.
That’s having a plan, and sticking to it.