The Cape Charles Town Council has approved this year’s fiscal year budget to the tune of over $7,903,698.00. Of that almost $8 million, only $20k is allotted for beach replenishment. Given the amount of erosion and the loss of at least 60% of the beach in some areas, it seems that the beach is no longer a top priority for the town.
Sources tell the Mirror that the consensus among top movers on Town Council that is that the beach is the beach, but funds will be more focused and targeted towards the town itself. That is, Main Street and other initiatives meant to benefit local business is now the top priority.
There is nothing wrong with this, however, it exposes a high level of misunderstanding about the fundamental nature of the Town of Cape Charles. Does it make sense to spend tens of thousands to install an elevator in the Library so that the town staff can eventually move in while the beach erodes away to slivers of sand?
Why do people come, and vacation is this quiet little town? To shop on Mason Avenue, or eat Brown Dog ice cream, or have a beer at Kelly’s or the Shanty, or go to the harbor? No. They only come for the beach. The show that made us famous is not called Mason Avenue Bargain hunt, it’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt. So, why have we stopped taking care of the beach?
Part of the problem is we have a board and committee for almost every aspect of life here, but there is nothing that pertains directly to the health of the beach.
During Mayor Proto’s term, he tasked the Dune and Wetlands Board with coming up with a beach maintenance plan. This was entirely unfair, and way out of that board’s purview and expertise. To the Dune and Wetland’s board credit, they worked very hard and collected a massive amount of data from the City of Norfolk. They did come up with a plan, but, as would be expected, it had more to do with creating large dunes than it did with creating a pleasurable experience for beach goers. Isn’t the experience what this is supposed to be all about?
Note: We love the dunes, they’re beautiful and they serve an important purpose. But do they really need to be 29 feet tall?
Cape Charles Town Council seems to be trending in a familiar direction—business owners first, ordinary citizens second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.). It should also be noted that not a single member of the current council even goes to the beach. They just don’t get it.
The reality is, there would be limited numbers of businesses on front street without tourists—and there would be limited numbers of tourists without the beach.
In the long run, creating a new board with the responsibility of the beach experience should be the goal. Until that happens, a committee should be formed to monitor and study the beach and the people that go there. Ideally, this would be made up of folks that don’t mind getting wet and sandy.