A group of Margate residents opposed to putting dunes on the city's beaches has formed Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project with the goal of providing information that members say will help all city voters make an informed decision in November.
MCQBP's leaders said its mission isn't to sway people to their side, but rather to get the answers to lingering questions regarding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposed Absecon Island Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project and to explore alternative storm protection options to evaluate what's best for Margate.
"It's not about being against dunes, it about having enough information, because this is a massive project, and it's going to reshape our oceanfront," said Margate resident Dan Gottlieb, who is leading the group with former Margate Mayor Vaughan Reale.
A city ordinance from 2001 requires a citywide referendum before approval of any dune project, so the decision to put dunes on Margate beaches will be determined by its voters.
Last month, commissioners voted to put a nonbinding referendum on the November election ballot to allow Margate voters to express their opinions on the issue. If they vote against the dunes, the project is dead, but if they vote for dunes, city commissioners will have to schedule a binding referendum on the issue, and voters will have to vote again.
On Sept, 24, MCQBP will hold its first public meeting to come up with a list of questions that the group hopes city officials will use to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain answers.
MCQBP members have already come up with about 40 questions on their own, including "What would happen when the dunes erode and need to be replenished, but there isn't funding for it?" and "Did the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluate Margate's singular needs when proposing this project?"
The group is also hiring an independent coastal engineering expert to "decipher the science from the sales pitch," and evaluate alternative storm protection options specific to Margate.
Then in late-October, MCQBP will hold a second public meeting to present the answers to its questions and the scientific data found by the coastal engineer, prior to the Nov. 5 vote.
Under the proposed dune project, the Army Corps and DEP would fund the initial phase of the project, while all future maintenance would be paid for 65 percent by the Army Corps, 26 percent by the state and 9 percent by the city.
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If you go
What: Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project public meeting
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24
Where: Dr. Dominick A. Potena Performing Arts Center, 7804 Amherst Ave., Margate
Online: Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/MCQBP/
On Twitter: @mcqbp2013.