BBLA Newsletter

 
 
Volume 1 - Winter 2021
 
 
BBLA Newsletter
 
 
 
The purpose of the BBLA Newsletter is to provide members with in-depth coverage of current issues/topics related to Bethany Beach and the surrounding areas.
 
BBLA publications are also available on the BBLA website
 
Articles
 
Topics in this Issue:
(1) Community Donations During Pandemic
(2) National Guard Neighbors
(3) BBLA Membership Drive
(4) BB Government
(5) Protection of Wetlands
 
 
BBLA Ramps Up
Community Donations During
COVID-19 Pandemic
 
Consistent with language in the BBLA Bylaws, “...to carry on charitable, educational and civic work for the improvement of the Town of Bethany Beach...,” each year BBLA makes donations to worthy organizations and activities that benefit the community and the surrounding areas. In 2020, the BBLA Board approved increased giving due to the pandemic and was able to initiate support and consider requests for a significant number of organizations. These donations were only possible due to the generosity of the membership, which has consistently provided personal donations with their membership dues.
 
With the focus of helping those in need during this unique time, the following donations were made within two categories: 
 
CHARITABLE
 
  • DELAWARE BREAST CANCER COALITION ($2,000) – To help support their Peer Mentor program that trains individuals to follow cancer patients on a one-on-one basis from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. Due to COVID, they were unable to hold their fundraisers.
  • DELAWARE BY THE SEA WOMENADE THROUGH PEOPLE’S PLACE II ($2,000) – To help purchase bedding for their shelters for abused women and children, especially hard hit during the pandemic. 
  • SOUTH COASTAL VILLAGE VOLUNTEERS (SCVV) ($1,000) -- To help with start-up costs for a new volunteer program to aid Seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible. These services will be available in Bethany Beach, Ocean View and Millville. In their newsletter, SCVV Chairman, Ron Kerchner, expressed the group’s gratitude for this “very significant gift which will kick off our efforts. With the growing number of older adults making their homes in Sussex County, it is imperative that volunteer organizations provide support to make it possible for them to remain in their homes and active in our community.”
  • SOUTHEAST SUSSEX MINISTERIUM ($1,500) Food Pantries – The Ministerium is composed of 12 member Churches whose work serving people in need has been especially important in this time of the pandemic. Although they are responsive to a myriad of community needs, they requested help for their Food Pantries. Five of the member Churches have Food Pantries and it was a request that the BBLA felt was urgent and timely. The donation was shared equally among the Food Pantries. Sister Loretta Primus, President, wrote “It is with deep gratitude in my heart that I am writing to acknowledge your generous donation...”
  • SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL (SVDP) ($1,000) – To help stock their Food Pantry due to the extreme need during the pandemic. In April 2020, at the time of SVDP’s request, the Food Pantry served 96 families which was an all-time record. Typically, approximately 40 families are served per month. Demand has continued to be much higher than normal. 
       
CIVIC
 
  • BETHANY BEACH FARMER’S MARKET ($1,500) – To help purchase the necessary supplies to open the Market safely. Doug Mowrey, President, wrote “The Bethany Beach Landowners Association generously donated $1500 to the Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market this year. This funding was critical for the Market to be able to have the supplies necessary to handle the COVID-19 epidemic. This funding was used for masks, signage and disinfectant."
 
 
  • COASTAL POINT ADS ($900) -- BBLA felt it was very important to support our businesses who were, and still are, struggling due to closures and restrictions on patronization. To aid them in letting the public know if they were open, and if so, give their hours of business and their names and addresses, we purchased a full-page ad in the Coastal Point which ran for 3 consecutive weeks with updated information each week. We received many thanks from the businesses and we understand from the feedback that these ads were very helpful. 
  • TOWN STAFF APPRECIATION DAY ($1,200) – BBLA designated a day of appreciation to all Town employees for their dedication and hard work to make the summer of 2020 enjoyable for all. Box lunches from DiFebo’s restaurant were distributed to the employees at Town Hall by members of the BBLA. DiFebo’s not only prepared the box lunches and delivered them but donated a portion of the lunch expenses. It was a very festive day! In addition, BBLA purchased a full-page ad in the Coastal Point which listed the name of each Town employee and gave a message of appreciation from all of us. In Town Manager Cliff Graviet’s words, “We are very grateful to all of the Town employees for their outstanding dedication and hard work to keep things running smoothly, efficiently, and safely, especially this year during the pandemic.”
 
The Bethany Beach Landowners Association looks forward to continuing to serve the community in 2021.  
 
Bethany Beach National Guard Neighbors
 
Among those we often take for granted until an emergency arises are those who serve in the Delaware National Guard, including those at the Guard’s Training Site on the West side of Route 1 in Bethany Beach. We drive past the entrance without giving it any thought except maybe wondering how the landmark UH-1 “Huey” helicopter hovering on a stand near the entrance will manage in a high wind. But those who serve or are trained on the base can play a vital role in our safety and even national security.
 
Under State law and at the direction of the Governor, the Guard protects lives and property in natural disasters and other emergencies; conducts search and rescue operations; maintains vital public services; preserves peace, order and public safety; and otherwise supports the efforts of civil authorities.
 
Most recently, for example, Governor Carney activated the Guard to assist and support law enforcement in 2021 Presidential Inauguration-related activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Guard units have operated testing sites for the public and helped deliver essential medical supplies. 
 
Many will remember that during the state of emergency in February 2010, following two major blizzards, Guard personnel supported State and local agencies by providing emergency medical services, law enforcement assistance, transport of medical patients and evacuation of residents who were without electricity to shelters.
 
Some might also remember the historic devastating nor’easter storm in March 1962, when the Guard was here in Bethany Beach saving and protecting lives and property. Delaware Guard personnel help in disaster relief operations in other states as well, just as they did in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
 
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Guard units can be mobilized by the Federal Government for military operations when needed. Delaware Guard units have been mobilized and deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries since September 11, 2001.
 
The professional competence and stellar record of the Delaware National Guard in all its missions starts with training and much of that training is conducted at the Training Site in Bethany Beach. The Regional Training Institute of the 193rd Regiment on the base is the center for the Delaware Guard’s Officer Candidate School and recruit training program. More broadly, the 193rd conducts training in a number of military skills and operations, including combat medical lifesaving, domestic operations in disasters and other emergencies, and communications, The Institute is considered a premier technical school for signal support and communications training and has been designated by the Department of the Army as an “Institute of Excellence.” Training in those sub jects is conducted not only for Delaware Guard personnel, but for National Guard personnel from other states as well.
 
The 105-acre Training Site has been a welcome part of Bethany Beach since 1927. For a brief history of the base and memories of a few residents before and during World War II, see BBLA’s booklet, “A Walk Through History 1901-2014.”
 
Guard personnel have always been great neighbors, supporting and participating in community events, like the 4th of July parade and VFW activities, and also keeping open lines of communications with neighbors about issues large and small. Here’s just one example. In 2007, when Guard officials planned to construct a number of wind turbines on the base to provide electrical power, residents in the adjacent Canal neighborhood and others raised concerns about several issues with the project. Guard officials hosted public meetings and listened to those concerns and suggestions. After further study, the Guard decided that solar panels would better meet their needs as well as address the concerns of their neighbors. In addition to the solid relationship we enjoy with the Training Site, the hundreds of Guard personnel who are trained there every year also contribute to the local economy.
 
We are proud of the Delaware National Guard and all those who serve at the Bethany Beach Training Site. It’s reassuring to have them there. They are our neighbors and a valuable part of our community.
 
 
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A Successful 2021 BBLA Membership Drive
 
Many thanks to the approximately 600 property owners who have renewed or become new members. If you renewed online and also received a postal request, please accept our apologies. We are doing our best to ease into a paperless process; however, sometimes systems don't want to cooperate. If you haven't renewed, please do so ASAP to remain a BBLA member.
 
 
How is Bethany Beach Governed?
 
The Town of Bethany Beach is 1 square mile with a resident population of approximately 1,000. Like most municipalities throughout the country, it practices a Council/Town Manager form of government. It’s governed by a 7-member Town Council. Property-owners and residents are eligible to vote for Town Council. Members of the Town Council elect the officers, including the Mayor. The terms for Council membership and officers are 2 years and the election is held in September, when Council seats are open and contested.
 
The Town Council is responsible for making policy, passing ordinances, approving the budget, and having overall authority in Town Government. The Town Manager's office is responsible for overseeing every administrative department from Police to Public Works. The Town Manager takes direction from the Town Council and is responsible for supervising government operations and implementing policies adopted by the Town Council. He or she is responsible to the Mayor and Council for the administration of all town affairs placed in his or her charge under the Town Charter.
 
The current governing members are as follows:
 
Council Members
  •  Rosemary Hardiman, Mayor
  •  Lew Kilmer, Vice-Mayor
  • Jerry Morris, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Faith Denault
  • R. Bruce Frye
  • Joseph Healy
  • Patrick Sheplee
 
 
Town Employees – Leadership Positions
 
  • Cliff Graviet, Town Manager
  • Michael Redmon, Police Chief
  • John Apple, Code Enforcement/Assistant Town Manager
  • Susan Frederick, Building Inspector
  • Brett J. Warner, Public Works
  • Ron Foreman, Water Dept
 
Through BBLA communication efforts, BBLA members are kept informed of elections and other major Town business. More detailed information is available from the Town, by visiting the website and subscribing to your areas of interest found in the “Notify Me” section.
 
 
BBLA Supports the Protection of Wetlands 
 
Key message: As stated in the BBLA Website Environmental Corner (EC #1 - Summer 2020), the BBLA Board believes that wetlands are critically important to Bethany Beach and Coastal Communities.  Nearly 60% of Delaware’s pre-development wetlands have been lost, along with the critical natural functions and services they provide. Protecting the remaining wetlands in our community, including the acquisition of wetland tracts with the intent to preserve, protect, and perhaps restore/enhance them. Bethany Beach has recently responded with an acquisition of a tract of wetlands (see below) that had been under threat of development.
 
Wetland Functions and Services Provided to Bethany Beach: flood protection (storing flood water), groundwater recharge, maintaining water quality by filtering and absorbing pollutants, shoreline stabilization, blocking saltwater intrusion, providing fish and wildlife habitat for aquatic and non-aquatic species, and supporting recreation, to name a few. These functions and services play key roles in the quality of life in our community every day, and some of these characteristics protect us, our homes, and business from hurricanes and storms. Taking a careful look at how best to protect and manage wetlands is a critical aspect of any holistic strategy to address the inter-related environmental and social issues that challenge Bethany Beach.
 
What Happened to Our Wetlands? Wetlands are a key component of our coastal ecosystem, and along with natural channels, mud flats, dunes, and beaches, their locations and sizes can vary greatly at the whim of nature, climatic forces, the seasons, and ocean influences. Simply put, the coastal ecosystem within which we live and work is extraordinarily dynamic, and, prior to settlement and development, was in constant flux. While it is estimated that nearly 60% of Delaware’s pre-development wetlands have been lost, if one narrows the lens to look at a coastal town like ours, the percentage of wetlands lost is significantly higher. Coastal ecosystems are fragile and can be altered dramatically by human activities, both minor and major. Wetlands have been drained, filled, had roads cut through them, had structures built on and over them, and have been converted for agriculture. These activities have fragmented, degraded, altered, and starved (of water) or flooded our wetlands to death. In other words, transforming the landscape to a fairly typical American community has come at the cost of our wetlands, some of the most valuable and biologically productive habitat in Delaware. Additionally, natural processes can affect the location, quality, and amount of wetlands (subsidence, erosion, over-wash, hurricanes, biotic effects, such as activities of muskrats and snow geese, or the effects caused by invasive plant species, etc.).
 
Wetland Protection: Over the past 20 years, implementation of wetland protection, preservation, and restoration/enhancement programs, projects, and activities have increased dramatically. Federal, State, and local governments, contractors, environmental organizations, and others have benefited from an explosive growth in knowledge regarding wetland protection over this time period. A key foundational resource on this topic is Ralph W. Tiner’s classic 1985 publication “Wetlands of Delaware." Chapter 9 identifies relevant laws and regulations promulgated to protect wetlands and underscores the importance of fee acquisition, acquisition of conservation easements, or local zoning regulations designed in ways that protect wetlands. Another key, and more recent publication, is “Delaware Wetlands: Status and Changes from 1992 to 2007” by Tiner, Biddle, Jacobs, Rogerson, and McGuckin, which covers wetland functions and services, wetland classifications, the status of wetlands in Delaware, and forces changing Delaware wetlands. There are some excellent photographs of wetlands, soils, and plants, and also diagrams on wetland values, wetlands in a watershed context, and upland to ocean cross-sections. At the end of this publication is a list of Federal and State agency wetland contacts and a wetland resource guide.
 
A Wetlands Restoration Example, Delaware Bay: An article entitled “Coastal Recovery: Bringing A Damaged Wetland Back to Life” by Jim Morrison, published in YaleEnvironment360 (May 9, 2019) describes an ambitious wetlands restoration project to restore a badly damaged salt marsh. “Contractors hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dredged more than 1 million cubic yards of sand from Delaware Bay to create 2 miles of beach and barrier dune that had been washed away by a series of storms beginning in 2006 and culminating with Hurricane Sandy in 2012. To stabilize the recreated dune, workers then planted half-a-million American beachgrass plugs and erected 10,000 feet of fencing. Down the beach, Fish and Wildlife staff are enclosing the nests of piping plovers, a threatened species that started breeding at the refuge only three years ago.” This $38 million restoration project is expected to return 4,000 acres back to a relatively natural, self-sustaining condition.
 
Bethany Beach and Wetlands Protection: In 2020, the Town of Bethany Beach acquired a 12.53 acre tract of land, predominately wetlands (forested, marsh, etc.) that have been under threat of development and loss for many years. The southern border of the tract is Garfield Parkway (Rte. 26); the northern boundary is the loop canal. The rear property lines of residential structures, mostly on Wiegand Lane, form the eastern boundary of the tract; and the western boundary is generally formed by Jennmar Way, Hudson Avenue; and the rear property lines of part of Tingle Avenue. The property was the largest remaining wetland/upland mosaic left in the community potentially threatened by development. The parcel exhibits the functions and services discussed above. The fact that it is tidally-influenced makes its preservation and protection critically important for ecological, flood protection, water quality, and habitat reasons, to name a few. As of this writing, the Town intends to maintain the parcel in its natural state. The Town has acquired or maintained small wetland areas over the years. Back on March 28, 2001, the Town purchased the 26-acre “Annie K. Natter Property” along Route 26 in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Trust for Public Land. The land, consisting of 23 acres of wetlands and 3 acres of forested uplands, has been used for natural habitat conservation, environmental education and passive recreation. BBLA looks forward to working with the Town and interested parties on initiatives to identify, preserve, protect, and restore/enhance wetlands in our community.
 
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NEWSLETTER CONTRIBUTORS:
 
Jerry Hardiman -- Claire Loftus -- Chip Smith
Mary Louise Embrey (writer/editor)
 
Bethany Beach Landowners Association | PO Box 401, Bethany Beach, DE 19930
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