Storms leave Bethany with limited handicapped access to beach

With DNREC’s work on the town’s storm-battered beaches complete, Bethany Beach officials said Town staff have been working to reconstruct steps at nine dune crossing locations in recent weeks, but handicapped access to the beach will still be limited this summer, due to the damage caused by nor’easters over the winter and spring.

Set to be completed this week were new stairs at Second Street, First Street, Central Boulevard, Campbell Place’s north and south sides, Garfield Parkway’s north and south sides, Hollywood Street and Parkwood Street.

But handicapped access to the beach will only be available at Oceanview Parkway this summer, Town Manager Cliff Graviet said in an update on the Town’s website.

“The Town is not able to create the appropriate slope at Wellington Parkway to make a ramp handicap-accessible at this time. DNREC has worked to push sand to non-boardwalk streets this spring with mixed results. Wind and wave, while widening our beach, have not deposited enough sand to make major restoration of our dunes possible.

Due to a lack of sand, officials said, several of the ramps are very steep, and the use of the Town’s accessibility-enhancing Mobi-Mats at those streets “is not a viable option” due to that steepness.

“The mats that have made our beach so accessible over the years do not perform well at extreme angles and are very slippery when covered in sand or wet. Mats will be used wherever possible, and we will monitor beach conditions daily.

They said that, if there are not mats on a ramp, it is because they have judged the ramp to steep or too narrow to safely accommodate the use of mats.

Deemed to be potential candidates for use of the mats are the dune crossings at Fifth Street, Fourth Street and Third Street. Officials said the crossing at Ocean View Parkway has vehicular and pedestrian access currently available, but the crossing is steep. At Cedarwood Street, vehicular and pedestrian access is currently available, and the slope there has been deemed “fine.” Parkwood Street’s crossing has pedestrian beach access currently available.

At Wellington Parkway, the Town has been working with DNREC to restore the ramp, and officials said they anticipate it will be open by Memorial Day.

However, on crossings at three streets — Oakwood Street, Maplewood Street and Ashwood Street — the slope is considered steep enough that mats may not work there.

While access to the beach may be more limited than it has in recent summers, officials said they believe the beach has recovered enough to be ready to welcome summer visitors.

“Our beach is widening, as it does every spring, and though we don’t have the depth of sand on the beach that beach replenishment has made us accustomed to, we anticipate Bethany’s beach will be as wide and accommodating as it has been in past years.”