Moving Sand: Fenwick Island begins process of building new beach

Atlantis is risen in Fenwick Island this week, as dredging outfit Bean Stuyvesant replaces sands lost to the tides over the past 13 years.
Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Contracting company Bean Stuyvesant goes to work on the Fenwick Island beach on Wednesday, August 24.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Contracting company Bean Stuyvesant goes to work on the Fenwick Island beach on Wednesday, August 24.

According to Fenwick Town Council Member Harry Haon, the state of Delaware had given the beaches some attention in the late 1990s, following a series of strong Nor’easters, but it was more of a beach repair than a beach replenishment.

“They came in and moved some sand around, built up the dunes in several places where the waves had broken through,” Haon noted. “But there wasn’t any new sand."

The last time Fenwick residents saw actual replenishment was 1992 (and before that, 1986, according to Mayor Peter Frederick).

Frederick, who’d been expecting work to begin further south, was pleasantly surprised to see the sand coming, literally yards from his home near James Street, on Tuesday, Aug. 23. According to his wife, Martha, it’s been nearly impossible to drag him away ever since.

“I’m not getting anything done,” he admitted. “I’ve got to watch the whole thing.”

By Wednesday, Bean Stuyvesant had completely renovated the dune, and were pushing wet sand into the surf.

As Frederick explained, the dredging outfit actually scooped up the existing beach for the dune repair, and then pumped a slurry of sand and water into the pit they’d left behind. After the water had drained away, they started using bulldozers to extend the beach — to what will eventually be a width of 250 feet.

Frederick commended local legislators and Delaware’s Congressional delegation for coming through. “Everybody’s done a very good job for us,” he said.

“I think the key was, everybody in Fenwick Island recognized what a need we had for beach replenishment,” Frederick noted. And, they were fortunate, he added.

The engineering was completed in a timely manner, in conjunction with the beach replenishment project just south of the border in Ocean City, Md.

And then the project found its way onto the fast track, when the Army Corps of Engineers found some funds Frederick described as “designated, but not liquidated,” in the fiscal 2005 budget — not enough for a large project, but the perfect amount to fund a couple weeks of work until additional fiscal 2006 funding comes online Sept. 1.

If Bean Stuyvesant maintains their pace, Fenwick Island’s “50-year” replenishment project will probably be completed soon thereafter.