June 1, 2007

Va. Pilot: No Turning Back on Norfolk Beaches - Science - RedOrbit

I guess I'm feeling a little nostalgic this morning. I plan to go over to the Board of Elections this afternoon and submit the paperwork to close protectnagshead.org, the referendum committee Bob Oakes and I formed to work towards passage of the Nags Head beach nourishment bond. I was in that kind of reflective mood when this editorial from the Va. Pilot popped up in my Google News alerts. The Pilot was pointing out that Norfolk's East Beach was recently recognized by the American Shore and Beach Association as one of this year's outstanding nourished beaches in the country. The piece relates the brief history of beach maintenance in Norfolk following wide spread flooding and erosion caused by Hurricane Isabel the goes on to talk about the impact of the projects.
"The replenishment served as the backdrop for East Beach, the village that lit the fuse for the Ocean View gold rush. The millions of dollars spent from East Ocean View to Willoughby Spit to save the beaches has been multiplied a hundred fold.

The winds and tides from the 2003 storm devoured half of the seven miles of Chesapeake Bay shoreline, breached homes in Willoughby and destroyed practically every plank walkway from the street to the water. Fixing them cost about $9 million, more than Norfolk had expended on beach maintenance in the previous 20 years of benign indifference.

Intent on applying that lesson, the city has followed up by creating a robust erosion-fighting plan backed by an annual $2 million appropriation through 2012. That's a prudent acknowledgment that too much wealth is now at risk to engage in wishful thinking about Congress putting up money for Ocean View sand piles.

That's the good news. The downside is that there's no turning back; once public beach nourishment begins, it's impossible to stop. That should spur debate over who should pay for the beach and whether the public gets enough access to it."

The Pilot goes on to suggest that Norfolk voters might not be fond of continuing this spending plan for the remaining miles of Norfolk's Chesapeake Bay coastline, suggesting that voters in Va. might follow our local lead and reject plans to spend tax money on beaches no matter how successful the projects are. Interestingly, the issue doesn't seem to be dollars per se but access. Norfolk has reduced the already limited access to the nourished beaches and this has drawn outcries from the beach access advocates. The article closes by suggesting the the Norfolk Council is on the right track, searching for more ways to open up the beaches to residents and visitors and I can only agree. The public should have access to beaches they are helping to restore, it is very important element in any beach restoration project.
Interestingly this issue never surfaced in our Nags Head debates. In large part that is due to the excellent access program the Town has implemented over the last 30 years. You no longer need to park in the sand to go to the beach in Nags Head.
Perhaps its time to follow Norfolk's lead and bring access back up as an issue. Our local beaches generate an enormous amount of money for local governments, yet like Norfolk, some parts of "our" beaches aren't equally accessible to everyone. In particular, the beaches in Southern Shores have no public access. The very same town that protested so much when it share of the the beach generated revenue was threatened. Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk offer an enormous amount of public access to the oceanfront. This has been done with public money and without any restrictions. Duck has limited public access but not much.
Its time we start tying access to tourist generated money to providing at least some public beach access. If you don't provide access you don't get the money. I'll bet there are some great undiscovered surf breaks in "The Town That Won't let Me go to the Beach" (TTTWlMGttB). Sammy the surf dog probably doesn't even know about them because he can't get to the beach even if he was allowed on the beach (TTTWlMGttB doesn't allow dogs on the beach from May through Sept. but that's a different issue). Sorry Sammy, maybe that nice lady at Brew-Thru will give an extra treat instead. Bill might find some new spots to windsurf and Monticello might be able to suggest a new brew to go with the uptown beach scenery of TTTWlMGttB. We all would benefit from access to all our beaches. Lets hope we get some soon. If we start tying money from beaches together with access to beaches we'll see a lot more.
Well, its time to close this piece, I want to go over and sit in the sand before I trek to Manteo. The ocean was gorgeous yesterday over at Loggerhead access. It should be just as nice today. Maybe I'll try a new spot, someplace different, just so long as its not in Southern Shores, the town where YOU can't go to the beach either.

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At 1:53 PM, Blogger starco1 said...

Thanks for all of your hard work on the renourishment issue. Someday we will wish we had what was once here. If you are looking for another project how about trying to stop the media from making hurricanes entertainment? Hurricane predictions are the flavor of the day right now whether in print or on TV. Since when did possible tragedy become entertainment for ratings. And while you are at it, how about telling Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel to stay home. We need reports from the Hurricane Center in Florida not some stupid observations from a dune in Nags Head. It serves no purpose for the media to send their trucks down here at the first sign of a stiff wind so we have to watch out for their sorry butts on top of other things to do. I recall the fake plywood frenzy created at Home Depot a few years ago by the employees who took off their vests for the cameras. WAVY was trying to catch the action before a tropical storm turned into a hurricane. The only problem was no one was in the store and the Outer Banks were carrying on business as usual. The tropical storm never made it closer than 200 miles to shore but the media never lets the facts get in the way of a story. The Headlines on that evening news was OUTER BANKS BRACING FOR THE BIG ONE. Needless to say, Many tourists stayed away that weekend causing cancellations and a lost weekend for our business people. Anyway, thank you again for your work to Save the Beaches and I can only hope that some how we can drum up the support we need and bring it up again somewhere. Maybe Kitty Hawk?? Starco1

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Paula the Surf Mom said...

We lost our gate pass to Southern Shores, so they won't even let me go there anymore.

And Sammy says 'leashes?...we don't need no stinkin leashes'

At 4:28 PM, Blogger BOBXNC said...

Sammy, I couldn't agree with you more. Soon I'll spend some time on that subject. In my opinion dogs are people too!

Starco, don't get me started. The WC is dangerous and really is out of control. I am working on a hurricane piece now. Maybe I can pick up on some of this theme.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Overwash said...

Do you realize that you are egressing from the mindset of an "elected official" into the mindset of a "policial activist"?
Good post.
We like it.

B. U.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger BOBXNC said...

Actually OW, I wasstruck by the tone of this piece. It is not a piece written by someone who is thinks he is going to need to be popular in TTTWlMGttB anytime soon.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Overwash said...

It's B.U., not OW, Bob

Actually, we felt you might have been a bit selective in the parts of that editorial you chose to critique (?) You may have left out excerpts that were even more debatable. e.g...."the city (Norfolk) has followed up by creating a robust erosion-fighting plan backed by an annual $2 million through 2012..." A true activist would have said..."GeeWhiz..what's $2 million per year to a city the size of Norfolk? That's like $200,000 (or less) to a town like Nags Head. And, how much sand would $200,0000 buy for Nags Head's beaches. Get the idea?


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