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November 15, 2002     Cape Gazette
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November 15, 2002

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20 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Nov. 15 - Nov. 21, 2002 Assawoman Canal dredging proposal prompts heated debate By Michael Short Nearly 300 people showed up. That&apos;s what happens when you debate dredging the Assawoman Canal, the narrow gut of water between Indian River and Lit- de Assawoman bays. The Nov. 13 meeting packed the Bethany Beach Firehouse for a standing room only crowd on the latest plan to dredge the four- mile long canal, a project for which some boaters said they have waited two decades. The sometimes raucous crowd was clear- ly in favor of dredging the canal. There were opponents, most of them from the Critics questioned whether the state per- Sierra Club, but it was clear that most peo- mit request included a cost-benefit analysis pie supported the dredging and they voiced their concerns loud and clear. Supporters include the county council, the town of South Bethany, Sen. George Bunting and Representative-elect Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, and Rep. Shirley Price, D-Millville, and numerous local resi- dents. "I care about these bays," Price said. "And I believe dredging can be done envi- ronmentally." and adequate study about water quality im- provement. Permits to dredge the canal had been is- sued by the state in 1995, but a snafu with federal authorities caused that permit to ex- pire. The dredging has proven controver- sial, with the Department of Natural Re- sources and Environmental Control (DNREC) being deeply divided on the is- sue when it last surfaced. Supporters say the water in the canal, which was dug in the 1890s to ferry pro- duce and has been gradually silting in al- most ever since, is barely deep enough to float a toy boat. Those same supporters says that it's high time the state finally dredged the man-made waterway and made it navi- gable again. Critics argue that the canal has become a quiet and pristine nursery ground for fish and that its serenity, beauty and ecological value will be devastated by dredging. They say the increased boat traffic and Continued on page 22 Flushing Continued from page 1 deductible donations to do the work. For years, residents have complained that the bays have deteriorated and that water quality has declined as fish life disap- peared. Environmentalist Til Purnell often says she used to be able to see her feet even in deep water. Newly elected Rep. Gerald Hocker told an audience at a pub- lic bearing on the Assawoman Canal that he paid for his college New look Continued from page 18 appreciated it." Kindergarten students from the northern part of the district will begin their education at either of the two northern elementary schools, H.O. Brittingham Ele- mentary School and Milton Ele- mentary School. The district's southern students will enter either Rehoboth Elementary School or Richard E. Shields Elementary School. The current enrollment of 2,100 students in the K-5 grades is expected to remain around that number in the near future. The four schools could easily accom- modate 500 students each. No oth- er possible grade configurations could be handled easily in the dis- trict's elementary schools. The current Milton Middle School would become a K-5, with enough space remaining to host a private day care operation, possi- bly provided by the Milford Boys & Girls Club. Other elementary schools could also have day care operations in their buildings, Brundenberger said. They could be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. "We do not want to get into the business of operating day care, but we are interested in providing the space for day care," Brandenberg- er said. "We'll also work with the providers for making pre-K con- nections." The beauty of the Use of Facili- ties plan, said board member June Turansky, is that: "we're not changing our education or our curriculum. It's not about educa- tion. We have all that mapped out and it will hold. This is all about changes of configuration, and those changes were decided with a lot of public input before we went education by clamming and that the water was clear even when it was shoulder deep. Many at that hearing argued that flushing would be improved by deepening the canal. Bunting didn't attend that meeting, but many of the comments could have been taken straight from his pro- posal. He said cleaner water means "things are going to grow. Has there been development?" he asked, a reference to the source many believe responsible for environmental worries. Yes, there has been extensive to our referendum on the middle schools. We made history with that referendum. It passed 2-1 when all others in the state were failing. All we're doing now is following through with the 1999 recommendations of our old Fa- citifies Task Force. Imagine how nice it will be to enter kinder- garten and stay with the kids in your school all the way to gradua- tion. This is what that's all about." Things Happen. That's Why there's Insurance. To find out more about protecting your auto, home, life, health and business, call me or stop by. We're on your side. David Fetterman 200 N. Rehoboth Blvd. Milford 422-3079 david_fetterman.html Insurance & Financial Services 11/m '" development, he said. But there is more to the story. "You need to ask yourself was the water better 50 years ago? The answer is yes and it was much bet- ter. Is it because it flushed better? Water exchange openings are a common sense solution to a diffi- cult problem. Simply put, if we had not built roads and homes along the coast, Mother Nature would have cut several inlets and today we would have healthy bays," Bunting said. A flushing study, sponsored by the General Assembly, was done two years ago and showed that improving the flushing of the inland bays, which take weeks to flush now, could help improve water quality, he said. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Program Manager Brad Smith said the study indicated better flushing could help, but that it carries potential risks. The biggest risk is potential flooding during storms or increased scouring such as has occured around bridge supports at the inlet at Indian River. Bunting downplayed that issue, saying that a system of pipes under Route 1 connecting the ocean and bays would be far easi- er to control than another inlet. He said a system of pipes would like- ly be preferred because there would be more control over the amount of water entering and leaving the bays, thus limiting potential flooding problems. To learn more about the propos- al, call Bunting at 227-5227. WET BASEMENTS STINKI! You've got mold, mildew, and if it rains hard, you get water leaking into your basement. You need to get It fixed before your foundation is ruined. What can be done to fix the problem? 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