South Bethany reviews recycling, dredging

The South Bethany Town Council met in Ocean View’s Town Hall this month for what is anticipated to be the last time, while the new South Bethany Town Hall is nearing completion. In that setting, on Friday, Nov. 9, council members discussed matters such as their newly adopted recycling program, the ongoing Assawoman canal dredging project and beach replenishment.

Council Members John Fields and Jay Headman presented ordinances with specifications for the voluntary, town-wide recycling program, which set to start at the beginning of 2008, through the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA).

Definitions of recyclable materials, trash and rubbish were identified to avoid confusion between the materials and disposal methods once the program is in effect. The council established guidelines for those participating in the recycling program, including proper storage of receptacles, disposal of trash and recyclables, and the penalty for violating the guidelines.

Citizens at the meeting last Friday commented about the fact that all homeowners within the town will be billed for the program, whether they choose to participate or not.

“It’s the same as garbage collection now,” emphasized Council Member Richard Ronan. “Everybody pays the same amount for garbage. Some of those people are only here in the summer.”

“If they’re paying,” added Headman, “it will encourage them to recycle, even if they’re only here a couple weeks in the year.”

The program was described by council member John Rubinsohn as “revenue neutral,” in which any revenue accumulated will go back into the program, reducing exterior costs to the town and its citizens.

“I think statistics speak a lot louder to people when you give them the facts,” said Headman, who shared the following information:

• Recycling a stack of newspapers three feet high can save one tree.

• Every Sunday, 500,000 trees are made into newspapers that are not recycled.

• In the United States, each person uses approximately 392 cans each year.

• Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74 percent of the energy used to produce them.

• Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, and most are not recycled.

• Modern glass bottles take more than 4,000 years to completely decompose in a landfill.

• Of everything that goes into landfills across the country, 75 percent can be recycled.

• The percentage of energy saved by using recycled instead of raw materials to manufacture: glass — 40, newspaper — 40, steel — 60, plastics — 70.

A second reading of Ordinance 140-07, with reference to solid waste in the town, will be presented at the next council meeting.

“We still want to get feedback from the people,” said Headman. “This is just as much for them as it is for the town.”

Proposed changes to the state-wide recycling program by DSWA in the coming months include an increase on the $1-per-pick-up charge to $6 per month — a move that could potentially cut about $3 million from the authority’s annual deficit from recycling. DSWA normally makes up that cost through landfill fees and other programs but does not receive direct funding from state coffers, even though the statewide recycling program has always run at a loss.

Fortunately, Headman noted in a follow-up to the meeting, like neighboring Fenwick Island and Bethany Beach, the town of South Bethany was able to lock into a two-year contract with DSWA in advance of the rate change and will not be subject to the increase until 2010 at the earliest.

“It was something we wanted to look into,” said Headman. “We acted quickly and it worked out for us.”

The program will run weekly during summer months and bi-weekly through the remainder of the year. Roughly 170 households have already signed up for the town’s voluntary recycling program. Homeowners can sign up at the South Bethany Town Hall.

Assawoman dredge gets moving again

After weeks at a stand-still due to inadequate finances, the longstanding Assawoman canal dredging project is finally back on track in South Bethany.

“We can all thank Rep. [Gerald] Hocker,” said Rubinsohn. “There was no money for the project, but he was able to help fund it and get it going again.”

Specific areas along the canal had been subject to difficult erosion problems, though advancement is expected within the week, finishing up those spots by Thanksgiving. Mechanical dredging will continue with the north end of the canal, with an estimated completion date set for October of 2008.

The south end required installment of an additional booster pump at Jefferson Creek Bridge, which halted further progress in the past months. Dredging has already advanced 1,000 more feet in the Assawoman canal than last year. Hours of operation were also restricted during the first weeks of hunting season.

Replenishment looming, town hall nearly done

Beach reconstruction moved steadily through neighboring Bethany Beach, leading to completion of major dredging and dune construction work in recent weeks. The process is now expected to begin sometime later this month in South Bethany.

“I think it looks great,” said Ronan, “and I think it will turn out well.”

He referenced a recent documentary about the infamous “Storm of ’62,” when a powerful nor’easter devastated the Delaware coastline, with surges of waves recorded at a height of 40 feet, flattening dunes and demolishing boardwalks and homes.

“The dune is set high [in Bethany],” Ronan said of the controversial subject among boardwalk-goers in that town, “but if you are going to protect the place, you really have to protect it, and I think they’re doing a terrific job.”

Finally, closing out the last stage of work on the new town hall, employees of the town of South Bethany began moving into the new town hall this week. The next town council meeting will be held in the new town hall, located at 402 Evergreen Road, on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Dedication of the new building will be held sometime in the spring. No date for that event has been set at this time.