Some cities want bridges and schools from the federal stimulus plan.
Virginia Beach wants all of that and sand, too.
Beach officials are concerned the Obama administration will disqualify sand replenishment projects from receiving stimulus cash and have launched a pre-emptive lobbying effort.
Mayor Will Sessoms sent a letter to members of the city's congressional delegation asking that Virginia Beach get $10 million to replace sand at the Oceanfront.
The city needs the sand as protection against hurricanes and to lure tourists, said Phillip Roehrs, the city's water resources engineer.
Operation Big Beach, the city's and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' last major beach replenishment effort, ended in 2002. Since then, parts of the Oceanfront have eroded by 70 feet to about 200 feet wide, Roehrs said.
"It's now slightly less than it should be," Roehrs said.
Virginia Beach is one of several coastal communities that are upset about reports the White House Office of Management and Budget pulled the Army Corps' list of beach renourishment projects. Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and Rep. Glenn Nye of Norfolk were among 30 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to reconsider the decision.
The OMB is looking at whether to fund sand replenishment and may have a decision by the end of the month, said Tom Gavin, spokesman for the office.
The dust-up over this stimulus money is part of a long-standing debate about whether the federal government should pay for any beach replenishment efforts. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations didn't think so and argued it was a local expense.
"The question is who should pay for it," said James V. Koch, an economist and former Old Dominion University president.
A big beach helps Virginia Beach bring in more tourists and prevents flooding, Koch said, but should Midwest taxpayers pay for the sand?
With the stimulus money, there may be "bridges and dams and all the other kinds of things" that could generate jobs and that the Army Corps should be building instead, Koch said.
Virginia Beach's sand replenishment project will directly employ about 60 people, including crews of dredge workers and surveyors, Roehrs said. The city also plans to contribute $5 million to the cost, he said.
Deirdre Fernandes, (757) 222-5121, firstname.lastname@example.org