South Bethany talks beaches and buildings

South Bethany Town Council met twice last week, for various workshops, special meetings and reorganization. Lloyd Hughes maintained attendance through what would be his last meeting as a member of council on June 2 (he declined to file for reelection this year). However, his tidal flush project (pipes under Route 1 refreshes town canals with seawater) is still alive.

Hughes will likely continue to provide updates through freshman Council Member Joseph “Jay” Headman, who was sworn in to fill Hughes’ seat two days later (June 4) and has agreed to act as liaison in that regard. Returning Council Member Richard Ronan was also sworn in that day, but Council Member Bonnie Lambertson (also returning) was absent — she will likely recite her oath of office at the June 10 council meeting.

In other business, Bob Washburn (maintenance) detailed some of his typical activities associated with the start of the summer season — beach cleanup, sand fences, walkway repair, etc.

Hughes asked about the condition of the beach at Ninth Street, since the town installed revetments (structures that absorb energy from incoming waves). Washburn said it was looking good — but there hadn’t been any major storms yet, either.

Mayor Gary Jayne mentioned problems with trespassing between houses — the sand fences had done their job. Designed to retain blowing sand, they’d collected enough that people could just step over the top of the fences now.

Jayne said they’d asked property owners for permission to post “No Trespassing” signs when they asked for the easement to put up the sand fences, and suggested it might be time to do that.

Washburn especially lamented the situation along the town border with the Fenwick Island State Park. There was a beach entrance no more than 15 yards north of there, he said, but people insisted on crossing at the end of the street, and he had to replace that fence on a regular basis.

The discussion moved on to sand removal on Ocean Drive — Washburn said they used a tractor with a sweeper attachment twice a year. Between cleanings, he said they used the tractor to shovel away most of the sand, enough to keep cars from getting stuck, although he admitted it could get a little deep for bicycle traffic.

That brought up the topic of (aesthetically) “contaminated” sand. He noted Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) recommendations to homeowners to use pea gravel or crushed oyster shell in driveways — not gray stone gravel.

Jayne expanded on that, saying DNREC considered the gray stone an “invasive species,” not indigenous to the beach area, and very difficult to sift out once it got in. He said DNREC’s Tony Pratt brought out a loader periodically and carried the contaminated sand away into the park, but he tended to agree with the recommendations.

Council also heard from Planning Commission’s Ron Wuslich on June 2, regarding progress toward an updated Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), and discussed developments on the new Town Hall/Police Station front.

According to Council Member John Fields, combined costs for the two buildings proposed hovered near $1.2 million. However, he recommended council revisit those plans and consider spending a little more money.

Fields said the buildings as proposed would be at-capacity the day they were completed, and the town was already stretching to provide certain services, with existing office space and staff.

While he agreed the town wouldn’t be growing in size, he said residents might come to want additional services someday, and it would be cheaper to build for that eventuality now rather than try to add on later.

Council is slated to revisit the discussion at workshop later this month. Due to the dollar amounts involved, the project will, per town code, eventually come before voters on a referendum ballot.