After listening to several city presentations on the proposed dredge spoils project and after reviewing the Robin Hood Woods proposal (available for viewing at VBGov.com, word search “SSD”), I believe that there are some major missing components to the city’s project. Deputy City Manager, Dave Hansen and Water Resources Engineer, Mr. Phillip Roehrs presented the project’s overview at the March BAC and the SDCC meetings. According to the plan, there will be five transfer sites throughout the Lynnhaven basin where dredge spoils will be offloaded from barges and then transferred to dump trucks to be taken to a spoils dump area near Oceana.. Residents who want there areas dredged will pay into a city “Special Service District” (SSD) fund created by those residents paying higher taxes on their property for a certain period. So, what’s missing in the city’s proposal?
Safety management. Placing commercial barges throughout the basin, on Long Creek, offloading at Crab Creek or by the Marina Shores proposed transfer site could present a boater congestion problem. Who will monitor the safety of these operations? Who will have that responsibility? The city? The contractor? The Police or the Coast Guard?
Scope of the project. The city’s presentation for just one site, Robin Hood Forrest states that phase 1 will dredge over 12,500 cubic yards of materiel from that area alone. If a tandem wheel dump truck can load 10 cubic yards of materiel, how many dump trucks will it take? How long will it take 1,250 dump trucks to transfer the spoils to the dump site? And that amount of spoils is only for one area, not including the other areas throughout the basin. This project will be reviewed at four years (go/no go?), but is projected to have three cycles out to 16 years. Then, the cycles could start again. This could be a very big project.
Environmental issues. What will major mechanical dredging do to the water quality of the Lynnhaven basin? What will be the impact on the oyster beds, fish, crabs, and the swimmers? Mr. Roehrs stated that the project would improve the water quality. So many people have worked so hard to rebuild the oyster beds and our water quality, it would be a mistake to destroy these efforts for the benefit of maybe just 2500 home owners (number given in Robin Hood Forest brief).
Work hours. Mr. Hansen stated that the City Council would determine the work hours for the projects, but with so much materiel to be dredged and trucked, how can that be accomplished with just a Monday-Friday 0730-sunset schedule?
Impact on Traffic. If N. Great Neck Road will be an exit route for the dump trucks coming from Crab Creek and the proposed Marina Shores Marina dredge spoils transfer site, how will the trucks impact morning and afternoon school traffic for the three schools (John B. Dey, Great Neck Middle, and Cox HS)? What about impact during the construction of the new Lesner Bridge. Traffic will already be slowed by construction, what will the dump trucks contribute?
Special Service District (SSD). How will the SSD work for the resident who wants his property dredged, the neighbors who DON’T want their property dredged, and for the taxpayer who will inevitably get involved if there are cost overruns? Who will be responsible for the project’s expense?
Who’s spoils are who’s? If spoils are dredged from one area, but the transfer site for that area is not ready yet, where will those spoils go? Probably go to somebody else’s transfer site? Many people believe that if the spoils came from one area, they should be hauled from that area. Otherwise, somebody else’s spoils could become your spoils. What would be the incentive to develop other spoil transfer sites if the city could make do with a couple or two?
Perhaps the city should take a step back, hire a reputable consulting firm to find the answers to these questions. The answers to these questions should be made public at for all of our taxpayers to become informed. The impact on our lives, our safety, and our tax payer’s dollars will be threatened if this project is not conducted with sufficient care, concern and technical oversight. This project should never be for the benefit of just the few at the expense of the many. I think the tax payers deserve better answers.