The Beaches & Waterways Advisory Committee was directed by City Council Resolution to study 4 areas and conduct at least one public forum for residents to ask questions and present opinions. I submit that this has NOT been accomplished by the B&WAC, and therefor, the committee has not completed their tasking.
VA Law “Virginia Freedom of Information Act” 2.2-3700 A states in part…”Unless a public body or its officers or employees specifically elect to exercise an exemption provided by this chapter or any other statute, every meeting shall be open to the public and all public records shall be available for inspection and copying upon request. All public records and meetings shall be presumed open, unless an exemption is properly invoked.
Any exemption from public access to records or meetings shall be narrowly construed and no record shall be withheld….
This chapter shall not be construed to discourage the free discussion by government officials or employees of public matters with the citizens of the Commonwealth.
I submit that as citizens who were present at scheduled B&WAC meetings were not provided either free discussions or with documentation that presents committee members received; concerned residents were not permitted to speak in most cases, and when they did speak, their comments and questions were ignored or not sufficiently recorded in the minutes, that the B&WAC chairman operated committee business beyond the scope and intent of the Commonwealth of Virginia law. As such, I submit that the B&WAC Recommendations Report as currently submitted is incomplete, unfairly biased, inaccurate and not ready for City Council review at this time.
I believe the City Council Resolution tasking of the B&WAC members and the timeframe given to accomplish the requisite studies to determine sufficient facts was insufficient. Given mounting public concern and scrutiny, your committee was placed in a very difficult position without sufficient resources to accomplish the required impact studies (Traffic, Safety, Impact on Neighborhoods, Structural Engineering of nearby buildings and homes, and environmental). Without sufficient impact studies, the B&WAC recommendations are limited in factual basis.
I fully support the recommendation of the Committee to remove Maple Street as a mechanical dredge spoils transfer site based upon its physical unsuitability, potential costly and continuing structural damage to nearby homes, negative impact on traffic, negative impact on nearby home valuations, safety concerns for this narrow section of Long Creek, and environmental concerns for the nearby estuary’s ecosystems.
Some specific wording of the Recommendations report concerns me, specifically;
(7,8) …the Neighborhood Dredging SSD Program (NDSSDP) has been based on well conceived funding sources…..
Comment: If private parties are allowed to contract and dispose of their dredge spoils at a city constructed facility, how will the city be reimbursed for the portions that would have been paid for under the SSD contract? The City could cut the spur channel, and for neighborhoods which could not achieve 80% agreement for an SSD or chose not to seek an SSD agreement, how will the city be reimbursed for its publicly financed portion? Will publicly procured barges as part of the SSD operate concurrently with private barges and then seek common access at the transfer site? Therefor, the SSD program and process are suspect financially.
(40-45) When developing the Comprehensive Beach Management Program….resulted in serious concerns for the negative impacts on the resident’s quality of life.
Comment: The comparison between the Comprehensive Beach Management Program and NDP with mechanical transfer of non-beach grade sand and the infrastructure to support its spoils transport is not comparable to the temporary hydraulic transfer of beach grade sand to be placed on public beaches. These NDP spoils (sludge) are mechanically transferred and not beach grade. The NDP is a 16+ year program, not a temporary program occurring once every three or four years for a couple of months.
(60-61) The DMTS can be located and constructed in these areas so as to have a minimal impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
Comment: This statement is without basis. Without adequate safety impact study, traffic impact study, environmental impact or engineering studies to assess potential property damage from nearby heavy dump truck traffic, this statement cannot be made.
(104-112) Adverse impacts. No mention is made of structural damage to houses, foundations, and roads that would occur from heavily loaded dump trucks over a sustained period of years. Vibration damage will occur and its potential impact should be evaluated and considered into the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM)costs of the NDP. Should city general funds pay for road and structural repairs or neighborhoods using the transfer site?
(108) Mention is made of …surface vibrations occurs when digging sand from the holding area.
Comment: Holding areas for the storage and de-watering of dredge spoils (non-beach grade) would not meet EPA or DEQ standards.
(300-302) Council adopts a policy which provides for permitted use of the DMTS sites by the public for dredging by entities or individuals other than the city.
Comment: What will be the City’s cost recovery mechanism for private use of a public transfer site? How will damages occurred by privately contracted dump trucks hauling private spoils be corrected? Would private parties be permitted to use DMTS beyond the SSD 16 year timeframe? The private sector use of the public transfer site beyond SSD cost recovery or mitigation expenses should be strictly limited by City Council if permitted at all.
(394-396) …recommends that use of Long Creek and Crab Creek DMTS be restricted from operations for anytime greater than 60 consecutive workable days during any three year cycle.
Comment: This statement is worthless as it would permit continuous operations for 59 workable days, a cessation of one workable day, and then recommencing another 59 workable day cycle. Transfer sites should be limited to specific total days for the year based on SSD requirements. If no extra days were available for private dredging transfers, perhaps those neighborhoods should have joined an SSD and contributed to cost recovery to the General fund.
Much to consider in a few days.
David M. Williams
President, Shore Drive Community Coalition