BBLA remains intact, but changed

Despite recent talk of dissolving the Bethany Beach Landowners Association (BBLA), the group will continue to play a role in the town for the foreseeable future.

For more than 40 years, BBLA has kept its members (from all over the world) connected to each other and the town, and it will continue to address issues important to area landowners — but with a scaled-down role.

“We’re going into more of an e-mail format, and to be more of a watchdog in so far as what is going on in the town,” said Paul Denault, president of the association. “But we’re not going anywhere.”

Earlier this year, some members of the BBLA approached its board of directors and requested that the group be dissolved, in part because local newspaper coverage of issues in the area had become so thorough.

To date, part of the role of the association has been to produce a quarterly newsletter to inform landowners of issues that will be addressed in the town council so members could play a more active role in local government.

“It was becoming a problem with the newsletter because by the time we could get information to the people, it was long past,” Denault explained.

The e-mail list will now replace the printed newsletter and will serve the same purpose. The list was started six years ago and now has 1,256 members, according to Denault.

But Bob Parsons, a former mayor and council member in Bethany Beach, disagreed with the BBLA’s new focus on electronic communication.

“If you go to an exclusively electronic format, you’re going to omit communications with several of the members,” Parsons said. “I think a lot of the people who own land are people who are older and may not have e-mail.”

Julia Jacobsen, who founded the association with her husband, said she is also opposed to the changes to the group and stressed the need for keeping area landowners who live elsewhere informed and involved when it comes to issues that will affect them.

“It’s important to have an independent citizens’ association because quite often the government can get out of hand,” Jacobsen said. “It provides a medium to let the people running the town know what they think.”

She said the most important role the group has is in keeping people informed. She called the efforts to move to an e-mail format “unfair” to those who do not have a computer.

Jacobsen added that the BBLA has been more than simply a means of distributing information to its members, who may or may not be residents. She said it has also served as an effective method for helping to exert influence in the town council and shape public policy since it was formed.