Dewey's Sunset Park grant application denied

Project was to improve bayside park's wetland habitat
A $418,000 grant proposal by the Center for the Inland Bays for wetland habitat restoration at Sunset Park in Dewey Beach has been denied. The project was looking to get money from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's $102 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. The foundation made the announcement June 16. BY CHRIS FLOOD
June 30, 2014

A $418,000 grant request by the Center for the Inland Bays to improve Sunset Park in Dewey Beach has been denied.

The request was made as part of the $102 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced recipients June 16.

The NFWF's website said “the grants will fund science-based solutions to restore wetlands and other natural areas, better manage stormwater using green infrastructure and assist states, tribes and local communities in protecting themselves from major storms...”

“I really thought we had a project that would be funded,” said Bartholomew Wilson, center science coordinator.

He said the list of projects funded were generally either implementary or planning, but the Dewey project was both.

There were 375 proposals and 54 received grants, most of them, 24, in New York and New Jersey, which together received nearly $50 million.

Had the grant in Dewey been approved, it would have funded the establishment of about half an acre of tidal wetlands, a new horseshoe crab habitat, concrete oyster castles and wave-attenuation devises, designed to mitigate wave action that occurs during storms while still allowing marine life to navigate easily.

Wilson said was struck by how few Delaware projects received funding. In all, three projects received nearly $11.5 million – restoring Delaware Bay's wetlands and beaches in Mispillion Harbor Reserve and Milford Neck Conservation area received $6.18 million; repairing of infrastructure and restoring wetlands and beaches along the central Delaware Bay shore received $4.91 million; and creating a three dimensional wetland model for the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge received $427,000.

“Delaware seemed a little underrepresented,” he said.

Wilson said the center worked with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in Wilmington and the Barnegat Bay Partnership in New Jersey to submit one large comprehensive plan that included funding for seven implementation projects and training for industry professionals.

Wilson said the thought was that a comprehensive plan submitted by the three entities together would look better than being submitted separately if a packet of projects were submitted together, Wilson said.

Dewey Mayor Diane Hanson said she was disappointed the project was not funded.

“I thought it was a good proposal,” she said.

Hanson said the project was going to help deal with the erosion of the park's shoreline. The park is going to wash into the bay if it's left unattended, she said.

Hanson said the park has still received some improvements recently, pointing to town-funded repair work and upgrades to the small bayside park.

The town rebuilt the bridge that connects the street to the park; the gazebo was moved back from the waterline and spruced up; vegetation was cleared, benches that line the beach were repositioned; and solar-powered, motion-censored lights were installed.

The park looks much better than it did, the mayor said.

Wilson said he's heard there may be a second round of grants, and if that's the case the Sunset Park plan would be introduced by itself.

“I'm sure the ones that were funded are all great proposals, but we're definitely disappointed,” Wilson said.