Beach reconstruction activity in Bethany Beach moved back to the south this week, as Weeks Marine completed construction of a new, wider beach and a new dune running from Hollywood Street to the town’s northern boundary at Fifth Street and a taper to the non-replenished private beach at Sussex Shores.
Workers were in the process Monday of moving equipment back to the original landing site at Hollywood Street to begin the project’s southern section. Once that is completed, the equipment will be moved to neighboring South Bethany, where the process will begin again. That is currently anticipated to be in mid- to late November.
The reconstruction of the private beaches at Sea Colony and Middlesex Beach are set to be “piggybacked” onto the project at the completion of the South Bethany segment, with funding for those projects paid by the communities’ homeowners associations.
Program Administrator Tony Pratt of the Shoreline and Waterways Division of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) told the Coastal Point on Monday that a response from DNREC and local official’s requests to reduce the dune height in Bethany Beach was expected to take months to receive from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps will need to review storm and engineering models to determine if the reduction by 2 feet, to 14 feet — requested due to the impact of the dunes on the view — would impact storm protection designed into the project.
Pratt emphasized that there was no particular pressure to have that decision prior to the completion of the Bethany Beach segment or even before equipment used in constructing the dunes is removed from the area, as only DNREC equipment and manpower would be used to reduce the dune height if such a reduction is given the go-ahead.
Weeks Marine equipment and manpower cannot be used to reduce the dune height, he said, because that work was not included in the contract made with the company.
“DNREC can and will do it, if it is deemed safe,” he said.
Local residents and property owners continued to debate the issue of the dune height this week, as the enhanced protection of the 16-foot dune was weighed against the ability of boardwalk visitors to see the very thing the dune was design to protect them, the boardwalk and their properties from: the pounding waves of the Atlantic.