SHORE THING: Town Tries New Angle in Park Toilet Appeal

Tops of wooden stakes show bathroom floor level required to avoid flooding. (Wave photo)

Tops of wooden stakes indicate bathroom floor level required to avoid flooding. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

January 10, 2013

Act 3 of the little morality play taking place in the historic district will be performed this evening (Thursday) during the Town Council meeting.

The scene for Act 1 was the Hotel Cape Charles, where the Historic District Review Board correctly noticed that the hotel renovations don’t look like the plans the Board had approved.

Owner David Gammino ‘fessed up that after submitting the original plans he got a new, better idea, which would look so much finer than much of the surrounding architecture on Mason Avenue that he didn’t ever imagine anyone would complain.

But as regular readers of the Wave know, Hotel Cape Charles was denied a permanent occupancy certificate, and remains in limbo.

But wait: didn’t anyone read the fine print? That would be Section 8.31 of the Town’s zoning ordinance:

Inspection by Administrator After Approval: When a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued, the Administrator or Town Building Official shall from time to time inspect the alteration or construction approved by such certificate and shall give prompt notice to the applicant of any work not in accordance with such certificate or violating any ordinance of the Town. The Administrator or Town Building Official may revoke the certificate or the building permit if violations are not corrected by the applicant in a timely manner.

The “certificate of appropriateness” is what the Historic District Review Board issued based on the original drawings for the hotel.

According to the zoning ordinance, it is the responsibility of the Administrator to inspect construction “from time to time” and to give “prompt notice” of work not in accordance with the certificate of appropriateness.

And so the curtain fell on Act 1.

In Act 2 (a humorous diversion) the scene shifted to Central Park. [Read more…]


SHORE THING: On AQUA, and Business in Cape Charles

Cape Charles Wave

December 19, 2012

According to the Bay Creek website, AQUA Restaurant will close Friday night, December 21, (moved up a day from the original announcement).

According to the Trustees’ Sale notice, the following property will be offered at public auction at 11:30 a.m. Friday, December 28, at the County Courthouse: the restaurant building, the Marina Shops building, the Pierhouse building, the marina boat slips, all Villa condominiums, and various common areas and parking lots. (For the complete list, click here.)

According to the notice, the properties will all be sold together, with the exception of two residential lots. So if you want the restaurant, you have to buy the marina and the shops too.

According to County records, Bay Creek obtained a bank line of credit in July 2004 on the above properties in the amount of $11.5 million.

According to Bay Creek developer Dickie Foster, as quoted in the Eastern Shore News, “There are going to be a lot of bidders.”

Which begs the question: spun-off from their developer, are the restaurant, marina, and shops sustainable? Can they earn enough to cover operating expenses, including mortgage, taxes, and principal payments?

That’s a tough go for most businesses, and it’s especially tricky on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where the tourism season is short and tourist numbers are relatively small.

As the town’s newest business, the Wave attended last month’s annual meeting of the Cape Charles Business Association. The good news: merchant after merchant reported last summer as the best in memory. Cape Charles is in renaissance, and tourists increasingly are discovering it. [Read more…]


An Open Letter from George to Mike about AQUA

Cape Charles Wave

December 7, 2012

Dear Mike Killebrew,

This morning soon after awaking I checked the latest comments in the Cape Charles Wave. Amid the usual sniping was the eloquent comment you submitted shortly after midnight –- a paean of praise to a magnificent restaurant and to the wonderful people who work there.

You, sir, are both a gentleman and a scholar. Now let me tell you some more about yourself:

In the spring of 2010, when my wife and I first came to Cape Charles, our new neighbors (destined to become our dearest friends) invited us to AQUA Restaurant. Two and a half years later I clearly remember what I ate and who served it.

I ordered the delicious fried flounder, and you, of course, served it.

After years of living inside the Washington Beltway, I had a lot to learn. On the Eastern Shore, dining out does not mean dealing with faceless employees one never sees again. Not here –- the shopkeepers, waiters, town municipal workers, and on and on might be my neighbors, or my acquaintances, or even my friends. Rarely do they remain strangers.

My neighbor is a Realtor, and so I learned that your profession is also real estate. Waiting tables at AQUA is a sideline. But I also quickly realized that while it may be a sideline, you are doing it because you love it. That is evident in the comment you wrote, and it’s also evident to any of your customers. Our meals at AQUA have always been enhanced when you have been our server.

Was it fate that when my wife and I last visited AQUA on November 27, you were our server? At the time, nobody knew what lay ahead, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.

That was, sadly, our last supper at AQUA. Although the restaurant will not close until December 22, we would not dare show our faces there now. It has been made clear by some staff members that my reporting was resented. The harshest criticism from an AQUA employee came in a private message on our Facebook page: “You are a mean, disgusting soul that should not be part of the town.” [Read more…]


SHORE THING: Tom Savage Was a ‘Come-Here’

Somewhere on the Eastern Shore. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

November 19, 2012

Yesterday I became a Native of the Eastern Shore. And I feel incredibly good about it.

All my life I’ve been a “come-here,” feeling somewhat less than a full citizen.

That was certainly the case during the 10 years I lived in various foreign countries in the diplomatic service. But it also applied to my seven years’ residence in Charleston, South Carolina, where I learned the ground rule early on: To be fully accepted in Charleston society you have to either be born there, or have lived there for 75 years.

After Charleston, relocating to Cape Charles was deja-vu. It’s where I first heard the term “come-here.” And I realized that, once again, I was an outsider.

After we started the Cape Charles Wave, a prominent denizen whose family goes back over 300 years in these parts suggested to my wife and me that we certainly had some chutzpah to move into town and start up a newspaper.

To which I had two reactions: first – we wouldn’t have done it if someone else had done it first. But nobody had, and the town was in crying need of a news outlet.

And second — we never would have attempted this by ourselves. It was our co-founder’s idea – as a longtime local reporter she saw the need, she chose the Wave name, and she, by the way, is married to a man whose Eastern Shore family also goes back 300 years. [Read more…]


SHORE THING: Where’s Cape Charles’ Nude Beach?

Reserved parking sticker on vehicle parked in downtown Cape Charles. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

October 24, 2012

Yesterday was the reason I moved to Cape Charles.

Walking out on the fishing pier, feeling the not-too-hot sun and the not-too-strong breeze on my face, gazing at the beach at low tide, smelling the sea air, hearing the gentle ripples of the waves — it was just perfect.

And almost no one was around. But rather than luxuriate in the solitude, I felt a sudden sadness that more people were not out at the beach to appreciate the perfect day.

Perhaps it was the decades of office confinement tugging at my conscience — I wanted to share the ecstasy of freedom to enjoy nature.

Actually, I was not alone. As I had walked up the boardwalk toward the pier I had noticed a car with Pennsylvania plates slowing down to parallel park.

And as I walked out on the pier I passed two elderly women. The older woman looked vaguely familiar. Perhaps I had met her before. I couldn’t remember. With a sudden pang I realized that very old women often look very much alike.

I leaned over the railing, gazing at the sand flats at low tide. From a distance, walking in the shallows, came two spectacular specimens of youthful beauty.

There I stood, leaning over the railing. I was invisible to the blonde Venuses below me, which I have become used to. Age is often invisible to youth. But I also seemed to be invisible to the old women on the pier, whose conversation was loud enough to overhear but spoken as if I was not there.

Youth and Age — and I stood between the two. The girls approaching me might be nearly 40 years’ my junior, while one of the women on the pier, I soon learned, was nearly 40 years’ my senior. [Read more…]

SHORE THING: Rules for Fools

A Cape Charles resident exercises his First Amendment rights. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

September 14, 2012

I’ve lived around the world, including what I thought was the bureaucracy capital of the universe — Washington inside the Beltway. Then I moved to Cape Charles.

This Town has more rules than anywhere I’ve lived before.

Example: Here, less than two months before a presidential election, it is illegal to display a political sign in your yard.

“For Sale” signs are OK. Prayer signs are OK. The jury is still out on Community Center signs. But “political” signs? Oh, no.

And it’s not as though the sign rule is some forgotten silliness buried in a dusty book of Town rules. Here it is, front and center in the September 11 official Town Gazette:

It’s the Political Season again and this means everyone will be advertising for their candidates running for the November 6, 2012 election. Please remember that political signs may be displayed 45 days prior to the election, that’s September 22, 2012 and need to be removed 7 days after the election, that’s November 13, 2012.

So – the Town recognizes that it’s the “Political Season” again.

The Town believes that “everyone will be advertising for their candidates.”

And, presumably, the Town wishes to spare us, the longsuffering residents, from being subjected to political advertising.

While you’re at it, could you please ban all TV political ads until 45 days before the election? [Read more…]


SHORE THING: Just Another Walk on the Beach

(Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

September 7, 2012

We walk on the beach most every day — after all, that’s why we came here. Rarely, however, do I carry my camera. I don’t even wear shoes — why would I want to be bogged down with a camera?

But the other evening at low tide seemed a great opportunity to snap a picture of the WADS.

What? You know — WADS — Wave Attenuating Devices.

Whoever came up with that acronym had to have served in the military.

On the way to  the WADS, we passed a human interest story playing out — a dog riding a boogie board.

Human interest? Or dog interest?

The doggie’s expression says worlds: “I hope you realize I’m not doing this for myself — it’s all just to please you. I will do anything for you, because you feed me.” [Read more…]

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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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