First WADs in Virginia Installed Off Cape Charles

Crew lowers a WAD (Wave Attenuating Device) into the bay off Seabreeze Apartments at the foot of Washington Street. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 31, 2012

Rain pelted Scott Bartkowski as he waited on the breakwater. It had been a long day. First, the sun and tide were both out, and the barges sat grounded. By high tide, waves of black clouds dumped downpours on the crew, but they worked anyway.

That’s how it played on the first day of the first wave attenuating devices (WADs) in Virginia.

“I’m the inventor, so I know it’s the first,” said Bartkowski as the thunderstorm raced toward shore. He is president of Living Shoreline Solutions, Inc. Until now, most WADs have been used as artificial reefs. “These particular WADs were designed specifically for here, in Cape Charles.”

WADS are massive concrete pyramids that sit on the aqueous bottom in rows, breaking the wave action and helping a new beach form at the water’s edge. In Cape Charles, three private landowners have joined to pay for the WAD breakwater to prevent further erosion to their land.

It was Sheldon Williams’ job to move the monster WADs into place. Williams, of Cheriton,  inched his barge toward the drop site.  People waiting in the water watched for lightning, inundated by the sweeping storms. Slowly, slowly, the barge was nudged into position. They tested the crane, then in one swoop — PLOP — the WAD was set in its permanent position.

Bartkowski expects it to take 10 days to complete all three breakwaters, which will extend around Seabreeze Apartments to the pilings of the old ferry landing. [Read more…]


SHORE THING: Looking for a Place to Party

Last Chamber party of the year will be at the corner of Mason and Bay — better than the gazebo, but still not a harbor party. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 30, 2012

Another street party this Saturday night – the final “Celebrate the Sun,” hosted by the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. I hope they get it right this time because, well – frankly, the last party was a bust.

That was the “Gazebo Party,” finally consummated July 28 after two cancellations due to rain. I strolled down to take a few pictures, but not much of a crowd was there. The organizers wanted $5 to cross a police line, so I just took my photos from the other side of the yellow tape. The band played on, but it was a sad little affair at the corner of Randolph and Bay.

Contrast that with the Harbor parties the Chamber put on last year. Folks, the Town Harbor is a destination – Bay Avenue is not. (Beach yes, street no.) At the harbor you see boats docked in the water, you see a dramatic sunset on the bay, you feel part of something special.

Why do you think dockside restaurants are so popular (read: The Shanty). Not because their fish is any fresher than half a mile away in town – it’s all about ambiance.

But for reasons still unclear to me, there can be no more harbor parties. I left voicemails with the town manager and assistant town manager asking why, but got only an email from the assistant clerk: “We can no longer use the harbor because there is not enough room with The Shanty there now.”

Not enough room? Then how did our harbor master, Smitty Dize, pull off the hugely successful Clam Slam festival earlier this month? There must have been a thousand people swarming the harbor, including vendors, musicians, and food stands.

And the Shanty restaurant was packed as well, just as you would expect.

And what about the Tall Ships festival? Plenty of room for that at the harbor — and again, I don’t think the Shanty was complaining. [Read more…]

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LETTER: Ignorance about Old School Is Not Bliss

August 30, 2012


Everyone has heard the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” But unfortunately, ignorance is not always bliss. Not when ignorance means not knowing the facts.

Last Thursday at the Town Council meeting, many people came to give public comment regarding what has become a truly heated issue. I will admit that I arrived with my verbal guns ready to blaze. Was I rude to some people as they approached the building? Yes, and for that I am sorry.

Most people who know me know I am pretty laid back — until my feathers get ruffled. Then it’s “look out.” I’m sure many people that don’t know me thought, “Who the heck is that crazy woman?” So I’m writing this letter to tell who I am and why my feathers were standing straight up.

I am a person that believes in honesty, fair play, and governmental transparency. I came to the meeting knowing that honesty, fair play, and governmental transparency were five words that would not be in the room.

I knew that many people attending the meeting were ignorant about how we got where we were.

I knew that those same people were going to stand at the microphone and speak out against a community center and in favor of what our mayor and Town Council wanted, with no background on how that decision was made.

Driving to that meeting, I knew our public officials, the very people that we voted into office, the very people that our hard-earned money pays a salary to, had stacked the deck against the community center. I knew before the meeting took place what the outcome would be. [Read more…]


This Year’s Sunday Celebration Includes Music, Film & Food

Sunday Picnic in the Park on Labor Day weekend has become a tradition since the historic grand re-opening of Central Park September 5, 2010, shown above. (Wave photo)

August 29, 2012

Citizens for Central Park invites everyone to celebrate Labor Day weekend with an old-fashioned Community Picnic in Cape Charles Central Park Sunday, September 2, from 5-10 p.m.

Pack a picnic dinner or buy from vendors at the Park. Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy music by Scott Wade, Bob Rankin and Friends.

Local arts and crafts will also be for sale.

At dusk, the first “Film in the Park” will be shown.

This celebration heralds the end of summer, with families and individuals gathering to meet old friends and make new ones amid the beautiful setting of Central Park.

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Bay Creek Pays Part of Back Taxes Owed to Town

Cape Charles Wave

August 29, 2012

Bay Creek LLC and Baymark Construction have paid $43,616 in back taxes to Cape Charles, according to Town Treasurer Kim Coates. Before the payment, the two companies owed $60,762.

Bay Creek LLC paid $18,350 for 19 lots, and owes the balance for 94 more lots, said Coates.

Baymark Construction paid $25,266 for 39 lots, with balances due on 15 more.

“There was never any intent to avoid them,” said Bay Creek spokesman Oral Lambert.

The Wave’s July 31 story on delinquent Town taxpayers may be read here:

A related August 16 story on delinquent County taxpayers may be read here:


FRIDAY 8/31: Beachfront Cruise Kicks off Eastern Shore 50th Reunion

Celebrate Growing Up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia 50th Reunion:

Friday, August 31, 7 p.m. —  Cape Charles Beachfront Cruise followed by a Shore Gathering at the Island House at 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 1, 8 p.m. —  “The Sands of Time” at the Moose Lodge in Belle Haven.

Tickets $16, available at Rayfield’s and Jackson’s.

Can New-Design Breakwaters Save Seabreeze Apartments?

WADs waiting at the Cape Charles harbor for deployment off the north beach. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 28, 2012

Massive concrete pyramids line the south dock of Cape Charles harbor, waiting to be deployed along the town’s northern waterfront. They’re called WADs—wave attenuating devices. And these WADs are probably the first to be used in Virginia.

“They never would have let us build it if erosion wasn’t a problem,” said George Mirmelstein, agent for the owners of Seabreeze Apartments.

He said there was only 20 feet of land beyond the apartments’ foundation when he was first shown the problem, and Hurricane Irene gobbled up another 8 feet this past September.

“We’re hoping that this system—WADs—will cause the beach to recreate itself,” said Mirmelstein. Seabreeze joins two other properties in the Bay Vistas development to fund the breakwaters.

He said Seabreeze will contribute more than $150,000 to the project, which costs over $250,000. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) holds the mortgage on Seabreeze until 2033. It approved an emergency reserve loan from the Rural Development branch of USDA to help pay for the WADs. [Read more…]


SATURDAY 9/1: Town-Wide Labor Day Weekend Yard Sale

Cape Charles is having another big Labor Day Weekend Yard Sale this Saturday, September 1, from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Set up your treasures at the corner of Harbor and Mason, or sell from home and advertise on the Yard Sale Map. $10 fee. Contact [email protected] or stop by Sullivan’s Office Supply.