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March 7, 1997     Cape Gazette
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March 7, 1997
 

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.... CAPE G" AZETiE,'Frii'ay, ]VIarch 7- March 1"3, 1997-'13 State inks contract on beach replenishment economic study Results could dramatically change way projects are funded By Michael Short On Wednesday, Delaware's De, partment of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) signed a modest con- tract that could pave the way to a radically different way to fund beach replenishment projects in Delaware. DNREC signed a contract for $65,000 with Jack Faucett Associ- ates of Bethesda, Md. to continue work on an economic study of beach replenishment. The contract is for phase two of the work to study the economics of beach replenishment, including how to best divide the cost of beach replenishment work. Tony Pratt, program manager with DNREC's shoreline and wa- terway management section, said the analysis will look at issues like who benefits most from beach re- plenishment. Such an economic study was requested by the Beach Replenishment Task Force, and was considered a key requirement by the Task Force, which has not met in more than a year Ultimately, it could determine who pays the bill, a subject that is guaranteed to set off coastal fire- works. Now, the state pays the bill for beach replen- ishment. Such work is expensive with the 1994 Dewey Beach project cost- ing $2.3 mil- lion. Replen- ishment in- volves mov- PRATT ing sand from offshore on to beach areas to re- place eroded beaches. But while expensive, the pay- offs in a coastal area are also large with wide beaches beckoning visi- tors to come and stay in the area. "Ultimately, what we would like to see come out of this is a more equitable way (to fund beach re- plenishment)," said Bob Henry of the shoreline and waterway man- agement section last year. Questions of whether Sussex County, individual homeowners or other groups should pay part of the cost have been the subject of endless debate. Currently, the state pays half the cost of beach replenishment with the towns paying the other half. But the towns are then reimbursed through a lodging tax, which means Delaware actually pays the whole tab. Faucett Associates has already completed phase one of a study. That involved looking at existing data on the economics of such tourism areas. Now, they will take three months to study phase two, which will be followed by a pub- lic meeting, probably in the Cape region. Pratt promised that the study will be done in layman's terms and said it will study three areas: what value does the beach have on property values? what value does the beach have on retail (commercial) sales? what value does the beach have on beach users directly?, a question that will be studies for visitors who come from both clos- er and farther than 50 miles away. After the three-month study is done, a public meeting will be held on the results. The beach re- plenishment task force will then be resurrected and will study the recommendations. The task force will then make its own recommendation, which is expected to go to the General As- sembly and governor. Beebe Medical Center rewards employees for meeting patient stmrey, financial goals By Dennis Forney last fall to full time employees and medicine physicians. We could When Beebe Medical Center moved into its 1996 fiscal year which ended on June 30, 1996, the management team set out to meet two goals: "One was a patient satisfaction goal and the other was a financial goal," said Jeffrey Fried, chief ex- ecutive officer at Beebe. "As far as patient satisfaction goes, we wanted to be in at least the 75th percentile on patient surveys. Our patient surveys basically measure how well we delight our patients and they are part of a survey sys- tem that includes 500 hospitals around the county. That means we wanted to be in the top 25 per- cent. "Our financial goal," said Fried, "was to beat our projected ex- pense budget by one million dol- lars. We announced our goals to our employees and indicated if we met the goals each full time em- ployee with a satisfactory perfor- mance evaluation would receive a $300 bonus and that part time em- ployees would also be rewarded." The plan, said Fried, was to give the employees a sense of owner- ship in the mission of Beebe Med- ical Center and a share of the pos- sible success. The employees of Beebe Med- ical Center beat both goals - rank- ing well into the top 25 percent of hospitals according to patient sat- isfaction and far exceeding the fi- nancial goal. "As a result of the success we were able to give $1,000 bonuses $500 bonuses to part time em- ployees," said Fried. "We were glad to be able to do this. It helps us to attract good employees. We set high stan- dards and we're contin- uing to go af- ter the best. The pro- gram's in place again for the cur- rent fiscal year. This FRIED time we want to be in the top 23 percent of the patient sur- vey hospitals and we've set the fi- nancial goal at half a million dol- lars better than our budget projec- tion for expenses. Those are not lay-up type goals nor are they half-court shots. It will take work and cooperation to meet them but they are achievable. We think that increasing the clinical excellence of Beebe Medical Center can only assist our recruiting efforts." Recruiting critical Fried said that recruiting efforts remain a critical initiative for Beebe. "We receive more than 100 calls a month on our physician re- ferral line from people looking for a doctor," said Fried. "We recent- ly hired a full time physician re- cruiter - Marilyn Hill - for that purpose. We need family practice doctors, pediatricians and internal use at least a dozen more doctors than are presently available. They're particularly needed in the outer area of our service area: Mil- ton, Millville, Georgetown and Millsboro - the Rt. 113 corridor." The need for doctors in Beebe Medical Center's service area - which it defines as Rt. 16 on the north down to the Maryland line and east of Rt. 113 - is expected to continue to grow. 'q'he population is growing here at about two percent per year and most of that is senior citizens," said Fried. "Sussex County as a whole in- cludes about 12-15 percent senior citizens while our area includes about 25 percent. As we all get older we require more health ser- vices. "We're living longer now and with age comes increasing sick- ness and healthcare need. We're already disproportionately depen- dent on federal Medicare because of the age of the population we serve. About 65 percent of our annual revenues come from Medicare dollars." Fried said that the medical cen- ter's management team is in the process of developing its next budget now - for the fiscal year that begins July 1. "Our mission remains the same: to spend the community's money as efficiently as possible to provide quality health care. We want to provide the right care for the right price at the right time." Sussex towns pushing for federal replenishment funds By Michael Short Sussex County towns aren't giving up on the idea of getting fed- eral help to replenish or nourish their beaches. Despite the recent federal failure to fund the anticipated replen- ishment planned for Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, the Asso- ciation of Coastal Towns (ACT) came out strongly in favor of fed- era] funding for the project this week. ACT President Bob Frederick said he plans to go to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, March 11 to lobby for inclusion in the federal budget. "A deal is a deal," he said of the expectation that Delaware would get help from the federal government. John Hughes, director of the Division of Soil and Water Conser- vation, agrees ardently. Hughes wishes Frederick well, but said talking to Delaware's congressional delegation is preaching to the choir. Frederick said he plans to "walk the halls and knock on some doors" in Congress to try to gather whatever support he can. Other members of ACT agreed. Joseph McHugh of Bethany Beach said "it is not just the coastline per say. A lot of other states are also against these big cuts." "All the authorization in the world, but until you have the money, you haven't got anything," he said. In the meantime, Delaware is planning to proceed with a smaller maintenance-type beach dredging this year. That dredging would be for Dewey Beach, South Bethany, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. While delighted with what amounts to a routine periodic replen- ishment, members of ACT are worried about the timing. They re- member 1994 when some Bethany visitors became very upset about the timing of the noisy replenishment, claiming it ruined their expensive and long planned vacation. "We-had a riot," said Bethany Beach Mayor Charles Bartlett, who had to face a group ofmgry renters, who expected a peaceful vacation. Bartlett said that the fuss in Bethany seemed to come down to a few people latching on to the idea that they could get a free vaca- tion. Frederick, also the mayor of Dewey Beach, said that realtors have asked them when the beach replenishment will take place. But he said they have been unable to give them a definite date. While he is glad to have the project, the Dewey Beach mayor said the uncertainty about the date could be "an accident waiting to happen." Hughes said .that despite some concern in Bethany during the previous project, almost everyone supported the beach replenish- ment and he said the state does the projects in the summer because it costs much less. He said they will notify the towns with dates as soon as they know and will keep noise as low as possible. He said that 99.9 per- cent of people understand the need and pointed out that only a very small stretch of beach is done at a time, meaning only perhaps 100 yards of beach at a time is closed to the public while work is under- way. Rehoboth OKs parking meter change machine; awaits word on park and ride By Trish Vernon The Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners agreed to budget in the purchase of a parking meter change machine, as proposed by the Parking Advisory Committee, at the March 3 workshop. To be located on the east side of the comfort stations on the island at Rehoboth Avenue and First Street, the change machine will dispense quarters and accepts one and five dollar bills. No large bills will be accepted to discour- age merchants from using the ma- chines, which hold $1,500 in cash, from using them to get change for business purposes. The cost of the machine is $3,000 and the tom- mittee estimates it will cost an ad- ditional $2,000 for placement of the protective kiosk, cement pad, lighting signage. Dominick Pulieri is donating the gazebo used as part of the sales office at First Street Station across the street to protect the machine. Advisory committee member Donald Derriekson told the board that the group also wants to pro- hibit buses from using the Board- walk at the foot of Rehoboth Av- enue for unloading and loading passengers, due to the fumes and noise that pervade the area while they idle there. They suggest all buses use the area on the west side Continued on page 17 l' [1 [!