US senators discuss beach replenishment plans in OC

Ocean City, it's the summer destination in Maryland.

People come from all over to enjoy everything the town has to offer, especially the beach which is why on Monday both U.S. Maryland senators made a stop in Ocean City to discuss the beach that so many love.

"The big news is that we advanced the funding on the beach renourishment to this 2017 work plan for the Army Corp. Originally it would have been in 2018, I don't have to tell you that the 2018 budget is very unclear at this point," explains US Sen. Cardin.

Cardin tells us moving up the $3 million project to replenish Ocean City's beach is paramont to ensuring its longevity, especially after severe storms damaged it in recent years.

The federal funds will also save the city and state a great deal of money.

"It saved literally a billion dollars of direct losses to property owners here as well as protecting the tourism industry in Ocean City so it's been a great investment," says Cardin.

Justin Callahan, of the US Army Corp of Engineers adds, "When you look at the cost of the project so far and the damages prevented you're talking about something close to a 10 to 1 return on investment."

The US Army Corp of Engineers will be moving about 900,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach. They hope this will build up the beach town's protective buffer between the ocean and the dune system.

This project will allow the beach to be tourist ready for the next four years or so.

"People come here for the boardwalk, for the fishing, for the recreation but most of all everyone comes here because of this beach and that's why it's so important that we protect this natural treasure but also the economic engine for ocean city," says US Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Both US sentors tell us they will carry on their efforts to make sure projects like this continue.

We're told the replenishment project is expected to start after Labor Day and finish up before the summer season starts next year.

The US senators also addressed the possible implications the Trump Administration's proposed budget could have on cities across the state, especially on the eastern shore and in Ocean City.

Both Senators Cardin and Van Hollen tell us President Trump's 2018 proposed budget would drastically cut funds to federal grants cities rely on, plus federal funding for projects like beach replenishment.

Sen. Cardin tells us the budget would eliminate the community development block grant. He says its used by local governments for everything from affordable housing to recreation to economic growth, but that's not all.

"They cut the Army Corps of Engineers construction budget in half, which would have negative impacts on lots of projects. The Chesapeake Bay protection is eliminated with it," explains Sen. Van Hollen.

Both senators say there is strong resistance from Capitol Hill on the proposed budget and will continue to fight to make sure these proposed cuts don't make it through.

Categories: Local News, Maryland