SB votes to enter into agreement for sea-level rise grant

South Bethany Town Council voted unanimously last week to approve a grant agreement with engineering firm URS, stating that the firm would help write a grant proposal to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), with the understanding that URS would be given the surveying contract if the grant was awarded.

“An opportunity has presented itself from DNREC where we can put in a proposal for a grant,’’ said Councilman George Junkin. “We’ve had some meetings among some council members and with a company [URS] that we met at one of the SCAT meetings that is very interested in helping us out.”

Junkin said the town would be seeking a grant to pay for a detailed survey of all the roads and bulkheads in South Bethany.

“This is so we can have the data to assess some of the things we might be able to do to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise,” he explained. “Some of the things we might be able to do are raise our roads… and also raise bulkheads so we can keep water from coming over them when we have high water. We all realize now after seeing the effects of Sandy what can happen if water comes out of the canals.”

URS presented a proposal to the town, stating that they would write the proposal for free, and if the competitive grant is awarded to the town, the survey would cost $9,900. Junkin said, if awarded, the grant would be a 1:1 match.

“We’ve been trying to be really proactive so we can start gathering data so South Bethany is prepared to move forward in whatever the studies show,” explained Mayor Kathy Jankowski. “We need to have a base to start from. We’ve attended all of these sea-level rise meetings. They’re saying the sea level is rising and Delaware is sinking and we need to do something. So, we would like to be proactive and be in front of this and not just stick our head in the sand and ignore it. DNREC said this money is available.”

Council noted that entering into such an agreement is legal, given that the cost of the contract would be under the competitive bid minimum of $10,000.

Council voted 6-0 to approve the grant agreement. The deadline for the grant submission was March 15.

In other town news:

• During his report, South Bethany Police Officer Mark Burton stressed to residents that they should not under any circumstances give out any personal information over the phone.

“It’s personal for a reason,” he said, noting that a resident had recently been scammed. “You have no way to prove who you’re talking to.”

• The Town is working on updating its Web site, making the homepage more dynamic and interactive. It will include a new masthead, a photo slideshow, and will welcome and encourage people to come to South Bethany.

• Resident Carolyn Marcello announced that on March 29, from 10 a.m. to noon, a Life Chain will be held along Route 1. Marcello explained that Life Chain is a peaceful pro-life movement where participants pray silently for those who are unborn.

• Maria Johansen of the South Bethany Historical Society told council that the society is compiling book with interviews of town council members and mayors of present and past.

“We hope to publish the book in the near future,” she said. “We’re also putting together a calendar that we’ll be selling at the bull roast.”