- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2002

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) In the Sandbridge resort community, the beach is so eroded that during high tide waves crash against bulkheads protecting summer cottages and million-dollar mansions from the sea.
Now, after years of negotiation between the city and the federal government, an agreement has been reached to have the federal government pay 65 percent of the cost of beach replenishment for at least the next 46 years.
Sandbridge residents and renters will pay the remaining 35 percent from property taxes and taxes on rental homes.
The sand along nearly five miles of coastline will provide hurricane protection and improve waterfront recreation on the narrow finger of land bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay.
The City Council unanimously approved the arrangement Tuesday, two weeks after city officials reached an agreement with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives and the local congressional delegation.
"Is historical too big a word?" said Thomas E. Fraim, past president of the Sandbridge Civic League and chairman of the city's Beaches and Waterways Commission.
"It's a very smart move on the part of the city," Mr. Fraim said. "And from a federal standpoint, they protected a lot of very valuable property."
The council vote also clears the way for the latest replenishment project in the fall when 1.5 million cubic yards will be dumped along Sandbridge from the Dam Neck naval training center south to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It will extend the beach to an average width of 170 feet.
The fall $10 million restoration project will involve about two-thirds the length of what was replenished recently during Operation Big Beach, a project that covered the resort strip and North End from Rudee Inlet to 89th Street.
The new agreement for Sandbridge calls for regular replenishment in smaller doses of sand.
"The goal will be to create a dry beach at midtide that's 170 feet wide," said Phillip J. Roehrs, the city's coastal engineer. "That's a balanced design that considers whether the cost of building the beach is offset by the storm protection it provides."
Each project will be subject to the federal budgeting process. A future federal government could revoke the arrangement, although that's unlikely, said Robert R. Matthias, assistant to the city manager and the city's chief Washington lobbyist.
"It's in perpetuity, for all intents and purposes," Mr. Matthias said. "It's as long as two mortgages for a house."

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