2012-2015: A Record of Cape Charles News in the Wave

The Cape Charles Wave was published from July 2012 until July 2015. It remains online as a record of local events that occurred during  those three years. Every story published in the Wave may be accessed by clicking on the various tabs at the top of the page.

The 10 most-read stories over those three years are also featured below, in order of popularity. Ironically, although a primary goal of the Wave was to inform voters on local issues, not a single political issue featured in the top 10 stories. Instead, real estate got by far the most attention — Aqua/Oyster Farm in particular. Even our little feature about the storybook cottage gas station eclipsed any reporting about local elections or any other town issue.

Appropriately, our final story, “Goodbye Wave, Wave Goodbye,” turned out to be the 10th-most-read, and so it is the last featured story below. We didn’t purposely insert it there — that’s just where it placed in the numbers.

The story we had the most fun writing didn’t make the top 10 (it only placed #25). But you can read it by clicking here.

#1 Story
Aqua Restaurant Becoming Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery

Cape Charles' preeminent restaurant retained its original name of Aqua even after ownership changed.  Now the name is changing and so is the theme to more family-oriented, less expensive dining with more emphasis than ever on fresh seafood -- especially oysters. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles’ preeminent restaurant retained its original name of Aqua even after ownership changed two years ago. Now the name is changing and so is the theme to more family-oriented, less expensive dining with more emphasis than ever on fresh seafood — especially oysters. (Wave photo)

By KAREN GAY
Cape Charles Wave

February 2, 2015

The Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery is coming to Cape Charles, part of a newly branded complex called The Oyster Farm at Kings Creek. If you’re thinking that the name Kings Creek is familiar, you’re right!  This is the new name for the Aqua Restaurant and the Kings Creek Marina.

Big changes are underway to the restaurant, marina, weddings and event center, and villas. The plan is that rebranding will bring many more people and especially families with children to Cape Charles this coming season and afterwards.

So what’s with the Oyster Farm concept? Marketing consultant Hope Lawler explains that Robert Occhifinto, who bought the property two years ago at a foreclosure auction, plans to create a very large oyster farm. Oyster cages measuring 20 inches in diameter and 6 feet long, each with 10 compartments, will be suspended from the sides of the docks. The oysters they produce will be called “Kings Creek Salties.”  The idea is to have an interactive, festival-like environment right on the docks with raw oysters available to eat, hands-on demonstrations of oyster growing, oyster shucking, shucking contests, oyster bakes, BBQs, and bands. [Read more…]

34 Comments

#2 Story
NJ Entrepreneur Buys AQUA, Marina, for $4.6 Million


Click the PLAY button above to watch the auction. Buyer Robert Occhifinto is on right. (WAVE video)

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

December 29, 2012

Five bidders signed up for the trustees’ auction yesterday in front of the Northampton County Courthouse, where AQUA restaurant, Bay Creek Marina, adjoining shops, and Marina Village rental units were on the block.

But when bidding began at $3.3 million,  the amount due on the bank note, the players quickly dropped to two: Eastville attorney Bert Turner, and New Jersey entrepreneur Robert Occhifinto.

Turner presumably was representing a client, while Occhifinto was bidding for himself.

The two began by raising each other’s bid by the minimum allowed — $10,000. Occhifinto soon tired of that game and bid a full $3.6 million.

Turner followed suit at $3.7 million.

And so it went for the next minute or so, until Turner bid $4.5 million. Occhifinto immediately came back with $4.6, and Turner was silent. That was his limit.

And so a new major investor has appeared on the lower Eastern Shore. Robert Occhifinto has actually been around for a while, but until 11:30 a.m. yesterday, few realized the extent of his interest or the depth of his pockets. [Read more…]

6 Comments

#3 Story
SHORE THING: Bay Creek Can Blame Cape Charles

122 Creekside Lane in Bay Creek’s Plantation Pointe. Was $1,495,000, reduced to $995,000.

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

November 26, 2012

Bay Creek once saved the Town of Cape Charles from financial ruin. Now the reinvigorated Town of Cape Charles is sucking the lifeblood out of Bay Creek. Is this town big enough for both of us (“both” being the Historic District, and Bay Creek)?

A little background: Twenty years ago, when the Town of Cape Charles was infamous for its crack houses, and the only growth industry was Section 8 subsidized housing, a savior appeared on the horizon – Brown & Root, Inc. Circa 1974, Brown & Root had purchased 980 acres known as Hollywood Farm — where racehorses once were trained — for use as a fabrication plant for offshore oil platforms. But then the 1973 oil embargo was supplanted by an oil glut, and nothing ever happened at Hollywood Farm.

Fast-forward 20 years to 1993: By then, Brown & Root had given up any thought of industrial use for Hollywood Farm. Instead, the property would become a planned unit development known as Accawmacke Plantation. Well-heeled residents of Accawmacke Plantation would demand two services that Northampton County could not provide: water/sewer and a local police force. But the struggling Town of Cape Charles could provide those services – if Accawmacke Plantation were incorporated into the Town.

Northampton County was loathe to lose control of the property to Cape Charles, and fought the annexation in the courts. But Brown & Root supplied the Town’s legal counsel, and the County never had a chance. [Read more…]

17 Comments

#4 Story
AQUA RESTAURANT IN BAY CREEK MARINA CLOSING
Saturday 12/22 Is Final Day; Employees Are Last to Know

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

December 5, 2012

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Sadly, the fabled Aqua Restaurant in Bay Creek Marina Village, managed so ably by Adam Travis, and served so deliciously by chef Shelly Cusmina, after Saturday, December 22, will be no more.

The final decision to throw in the towel at Aqua was made only this morning.

The Cape Charles Wave confirmed the news through multiple, independent, high-level sources.

Aqua employees have been told only that the restaurant is closing for the season.

The Aqua website has been changed to read: “AQUA will close for the winter season after the close of business on December 22.”

What the website fails to mention is that, along with the Shops at Bay Creek, the closure is permanent. [Read more…]

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#5 Story
Sad Story for Cape Charles Storybook Cottage

Photo: Gertraud Fendler

2008 photo by Gertraud Fendler

Wave photo

2015 photo by Cape Charles Wave

CAPE CHARLES WAVE

June 1, 2015

Storybook cottages became popular in the 1920s and were meant to evoke a “Hansel and Gretel” image — a gingerbread house good enough to eat. But the example on Stone Road has become a horror story, with passing years recording theft and deterioration. The former gas station has been for sale for years, but the owner reportedly has an exaggerated idea of the property’s worth. Last year someone stole the copper roof elements, and now the copper window is gone. The orange plastic screen and plywood door add little.

Gertraud Fendler created the idealized top image in 2008, available at Ellen Moore Gallery. The Wave’s bottom image is also available by special request (but not at the Gallery).

Last March before the most recent destruction, Jim Duffy wrote about the cottage on his webpage “Secrets of the Eastern Shore”:

Some empty buildings are just that, unfortunate bits of neglected junk on the Eastern Shore landscape. Others are something else altogether—dilapidated, perhaps, but still graced with the ability to unravel fascinating secrets behind key turns in the life of the Shore—and even the country—in days gone by.

Take this old guy, for example. He stands on the outskirts of Cape Charles, just where you are finally making your way into town from the highway. With paint peeling, weeds growing, and that tattered for-sale sign in the parking lot, the building wears a sad face.

But despite all that, it still manages somehow to announce itself as a distinctive sort of structure. And that’s exactly what it is.

To those in the know, the building marks a fascinating chapter in a revolutionary development in American life and business, the birth of the automobile. As cars became more and more popular in the early years of the 20th century, the need for gas stations grew by leaps and bounds.

But gas stations did not become popular. In fact, people generally regarded them as filthy firetraps. They didn’t want gas stations located anywhere around their homes or businesses. [Read more…]

5 Comments

#6 Story
Survey Finds Bridge-Tunnel Toll Highest in Nation

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is one of the few surveyed that charges a toll in both directions.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is one of the few surveyed that charges a toll in both directions.

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

March 3, 2014

“With tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge headed for as much as $8 by 2017, there’s plenty of grumbling and griping,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle in a survey of the cost of crossing each of the nation’s 150 toll bridges. The Chronicle found the cheapest toll to be $1 to cross to Avery Island, Louisiana (home of Tabasco Sauce). The most expensive toll was – you guessed it – the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. [Read more…]

13 Comments

#7 Story
Home & Garden TV Network Films Cape Charles Episode

Filming “Meet & Greet”, A Re-enactment Of The First Meeting Between Eva & The Buyers

Richmond residents and now Cape Charles vacation homeowners Jim and Jodi (obscured behind Jim) Outland re-enact their first meeting with Realtor Eva Noonan, filmed at Aqua Restaurant. (Photos by Marlene Cree)

Home & Garden Network (HGTV on cable channels) filmed an episode in Cape Charles last week for a new series to be aired in January, and Marlene Cree of Blue Heron Realty was there to record every detail — which she has graciously provided for Wave readers.

By MARLENE CREE
Blue Heron Realty

October 2, 2013

It’s been a pretty exciting last few days for Blue Heron Realty Co. with the Home & Garden network, HGTV, filming here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for a new series entitled “Beachfront Bargain Hunt“ which will air in January 2014!

I say exciting for us because in late August, after seeing some of our great beach listings on our website, HGTV called Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office where Eva Noonan was the Duty Agent that afternoon. I’m sure Eva never dreamed when she picked up the phone that day that the call would be a real estate agent’s opportunity of a lifetime — starring in a national real estate TV show!

But not so fast, because the Location Coordinator for the series wasn’t entirely sure that Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and Cape Charles in particular, would be a location that could really work for them. After all, we’re small, rural, and relatively unknown. In fact, nobody on the actual production team had ever heard of our area, let alone been here. But Eva, who knows Cape Charles like the back of her hand, having been a top agent in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office for many years, flipped that ol’ lemon right into a super tasty lemonade.

Well, said she, Cape Charles may be a small town, but it’s lovely, truly quaint, and historic, offering charming affordable homes, most built in the early 1900s, which have retained their yesteryear charm and character. It’s really Virginia’s Mayberry, but with beautiful beaches, two state-of-the art marinas, and all the charming little shops, art galleries, and restaurants that make life in this small town so unique and exciting.

Not to mention the two new waterfront signature golf courses, top-rated Palmer and Nicklaus courses, placed side by side. And yes, we may be relatively unknown, but HGTV could have the distinction of introducing to a national audience what is really Virginia’s Best Kept Secret — its truly delightful Eastern Shore.

As for rural, we have gorgeous, wide open green spaces to enjoy that other areas can only dream of, with small waterfront neighborhoods nestled between spacious family farms, neighborhoods with beaches, opportunities for boat docks — neighborhoods offering the type of affordable waterfront homes the Home & Garden channel is trying to introduce to its audience.

Well, the rest, as they say, is history, and HGTV has spent the last three days here on the Eastern Shore, filming Eva and her buyers, Jim and Jodi, touring and discussing some of beach homes they considered. [Read more…]

8 Comments

#8 Story
Bay Creek Lots, Lighthouse Go for Pennies on the Dollar

map annotated

Bay Creek lighthouse cost $1 million when built 10 years ago but sold at auction for $137,500.

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

June 2, 2014

The iconic Bay Creek lighthouse, a full-scale replica of the historic Old Plantation Flats lighthouse, sold at auction Saturday for $137,500 to the sole bidder, John Waller of Virginia Beach. Waller said he did not attend the auction with the purpose of buying the lighthouse, but when no one else bid, he did so on a whim. He and his family will use it as a “getaway.”

An additional 22 lots in Bay Creek Marina Village East owned by Paul and Robert Galloway also sold at auction for prices ranging from $2,750 to $37,076, for a total of about $200,000 for all 22 lots. At the height of the market eight years ago a single lot sold for more than that.

Built by Bay Creek developer Richard “Dickie” Foster as a museum in 2004, the lighthouse was never intended to be sold. Instead, it was a visual feature of Bayside Village and the Arnold Palmer golf course. But Foster gave up the lighthouse as part of a December 2013 settlement with his former business partner Paul Galloway.

Lighthouse buyer John Waller with daughter Garland Waller (Wave photo)

According to Galloway, the settlement provides him (and subsequent owners) access to the lighthouse through the gated entrance to Bay Creek South, even though the lighthouse is no longer part of Bay Creek. That means the lighthouse owner could drive through the Bay Creek gate without having to pay the monthly $155 homeowners association fee.

The original 1886 lighthouse was built as a place to live, and the reproduction is true to the original, with the exception of the addition of heating and air conditioning. But there is no plumbing. According to information provided at the auction, water and sewer hookup could be accomplished for about $24,000.

The 22 lots that sold in Marina Village East were the final Bay Creek real estate holdings of the Galloway brothers, each of whom until recently also owned a large home in that subdivision. Aqua Restaurant owner Robert Occhifinto has purchased both Galloway houses for use as vacation rentals.

Marina Village East is the least developed section of Bay Creek, and does not even have a gate to limit access. A few “seed” houses were built by the developers: Paul Galloway’s former house on Charlestowne Drive, Robert Galloway’s former house on Bridgeton Drive, and Bay Creek official Oral Lambert’s former house on Bahama Road. Two other houses, one at the corner of Randolph Avenue and Bahama Road and the other on Fig Street, are owned by private parties.

Auctioneer William Summs of Norfolk, who has been in the business all his life, said he had never seen similar properties go for such low prices. The auction originally advertised minimum starting bids of $20,000, but closer to the time dropped that to $10,000. In the event, they took anything they could get, which was $2,750 for the cheapest lot and $37,075 for the priciest (all prices include a 10 percent buyer’s fee). [Read more…]

14 Comments

#9 Story
An Outsider’s Inside View of Bay Creek’s Beach Club

Forget the beach -- the new Bay Creek facility is really a large, impressive gym. (Wave photos)

Forget the beach — the new Bay Creek facility is really a large, impressive gym (Wave photos)

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

January 27, 2014

When I moved to the Town of Cape Charles four years ago, I didn’t realize that the majority of the Town would be off-limits to me. Sure, I knew that Bay Creek was a gated community, but I didn’t think I would be banned from riding my bicycle over there.

That’s because, as a college student in the 1970s, I worked construction one summer on Hilton Head Island, where Sea Pines Plantation looks like it must have been the prototype for Bay Creek. Cars entering Sea Pines had to have a pass, but bikers and pedestrians could waltz right through. That was before 9/11, of course – maybe things have changed now.

Nevertheless I was shocked to learn of the “unneighborliness” of Bay Creek. German guests at our vacation rental rode bikes over to the gate and naively said they just wanted to “look around.” They were turned away, of course, not knowing the magic words “Coach House Restaurant.” Even my new weekender neighbors, a doctor and his professional wife, also on bikes, were turned away.

By no means do I intend this as criticism of the friendly guards at the Bay Creek gate, one of whom I know personally. I have friends who live in Bay Creek, and the mention of a friend’s name has always granted me access. But sometimes I cheated, mentioning a friend’s name when I really just wanted to “look around.” And Bobby Thomas finally caught me, embarrassingly enough when my wife and I were giving relatives a tour of Bay Creek, and we got the bums’ rush.

Once burned, twice cautious. I continue to “look around” the gated portion of the town I now call home, but my most recent visit to Bay Creek was under the protection of a genuine property owner. And that is how an outsider gained access to the inside of the new Bay Creek Beach Club. [Read more…]

30 Comments

#10 Story

GOODBYE WAVE, WAVE GOODBYE

CAPE CHARLES WAVE

June 29, 2015

In last Monday’s edition (which broke all readership records – over 7,000 page views in one day) the Wave had the sad task of leading the page with news of another drowning off Cape Charles Beach – a tragic death that competent town leadership could have avoided.

Anyone could have seen that drowning coming, and of course many did. The former “safe” beach has become a death trap now that newly pumped spoil has brought the beach close to the once-distant Cherrystone channel and its sudden drop-off and swift tidal currents.

Three months ago the Wave drew attention to the town’s failure to acknowledge the dangerous beach when we wrote: “A ‘special edition’ of the Cape Charles Gazette purports to tell everything you ever wanted to know about the harbor dredging/beach improvement. We learn what color the sand will turn, and whether it’s safe to walk on the beach. What isn’t mentioned is whether it’s safe to go in the water — specifically, are there dangerous drop-offs now that the beach extends so close to the channel? The town isn’t telling. (April 1, 2015)”

That same Gazette mentions that the town annually budgets $20,000 for beach sand replacement, but with the free spoil, that cost will now be saved. Yet last Saturday’s Eastern Shore News quotes town officials as saying that hiring lifeguards would be too expensive and too complicated.

That same news story quotes officials as saying that a safety line and rope floats have been ordered and should arrive “any day.” But the float line will not be installed until approval comes from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

That sounds very much like the recreation director’s report submitted to Cape Charles Town Council back in May, which stated: “The paperwork is almost complete to submit to DGIF. Once they review and approve, we can start on placing the swim area.”

Mr. Mayor, take a lesson from Rudy Giuliani following 9/11: be a leader. Order that float line to be installed immediately and get the DGIF approval retroactively. If you can’t provide a safe swimming area before July 4, then resign. The buck stops with you.

And speaking of resigning, we now announce that our three-year effort to produce a real newspaper for the Town of Cape Charles is ending. As the saying goes, the great thing about banging your head against the wall is that it feels so good when you stop. [Read more…]

32 Comments


ON THE TELEPHONE POLE

SUNDAY 7/5: Art in a Barn Features Free Dance Films, Dinner at Mimosa Barn

Art in a Barn begins at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 5, 2015, at ESLAND’s Mimosa Barn just outside of Cape Charles at Eyre Hall Creek. Space will be transformed into a stage for dance, music, projection, community, and good food and drink. This innovative experience offers a stunning Eastern Shore sunset, dazzling  guests with a night that unravels in a series of site-specific, live performance “events” and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery with friends and family. Dinner and Cash Bar will be followed by performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Suitable for all ages. Special screening of dance films by COORPI, Italia, with performance and music by the Experimental Film Virginia artists. [Read more…]

SATURDAYS: Freestyle Yoga at Cape Charles Yacht Center

Saturdays beginning May 23 through September 5 at Cape Charles Yacht Center, 8-9:15 a.m.: Slow Flow Yoga. This class is a beautiful way to start your day by the Chesapeake Bay. [Read more…]


WEDNESDAYS: Trivia Night at the Oyster Farm with Jeopardy! Star Eric Hack

All trivia enthusiasts are invited to spend Wednesday evenings at the Oyster Farm (Trivia Question: What well-known Cape Charles restaurant recently changed its name to “The Oyster Farm”?). The games start at 7 p.m. and are hosted by local Jeopardy! star Eric Hack. (Don’t worry — he won’t be on the other team.) Hack describes the games as “laid-back and the atmosphere is fun while teams of contestants have three or four minutes to come up with their answers to tricky trivia questions while enjoying dinner and drinks. [Read more…]

Publish Your Event in the Cape Charles Wave

Holding an event of interest to the general public in or near Cape Charles? Send an email to
[email protected] to list your event in ON THE TELEPHONE POLE. Events will normally be publicized the same week they occur. Deadline for submission is the preceding Friday.


Bay Coast Railroad Must Move Hazardous Railroad Ties

Pile of railroad ties in foreground were amassed by the Army Corps of Engineers while preparing the spoil containment area in the background. The photo was taken from the Hump. (Wave photo)

Pile of railroad ties in foreground were amassed by the Army Corps of Engineers while preparing the spoil containment area in the background. The photo was taken from the Hump. (Wave photo)

By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

June 29, 2015

Bay Coast Railroad has been given five days to come up with a plan to properly dispose of creosote-treated railroad ties currently being buried behind the Cape Charles Museum. After the Wave alerted the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, DEQ sent a letter to Bay Coast Railroad, owners and operators of the Cape Charles rail yard, requesting a response within five days detailing what will be done to remove or recycle the material. That response is due today (June 29).

Creosote-treated products such as railroad ties must be disposed of in an approved landfill or be recycled appropriately. According to DEQ, the railroad ties must be treated as hazardous waste.

DEQ had not been aware of the large number of railroad ties amassed at the western end of the area being prepared to contain dredged spoil from the town harbor and channel. The mound of ties can easily be seen when driving over the Hump.

The regional DEQ representative, who asked not to be quoted by name, said the railroad was not allowed to use its property as an unpermitted dump site.

DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden told the Wave that he did not know whether the railroad ties could contaminate the water table. [Read more…]

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