North Topsail Beach withdraws from US Army Corps of Engineers project
Surf City executives are ready to move forward with a beach power project through the US Army Corps of Engineers, but their neighbors in North Topsail Beach are backing down due to financial problems.
The Onslow County community will not sign a Project Partnership Agreement for the Surf City / North Topsail Beach Coastal Storm Risk Management Plan, citing a massive increase in costs from an earlier estimate.
On behalf of the North Topsail Beach Council of Aldermen, Mayor Joan McDermon sent a memorandum to the Wilmington District Corps of Engineers. Besides not being able to meet a commitment deadline in early June, other reasons ranged from increased costs and additional tax issues the project will bring to residents.
“For the aforementioned reasons, the City of North Topsail Beach is unable to meet the APP project commitment deadline by July 6, 2021,” McDermon said. “We fully understand that you will need to remove the North Topsail Beach scope from the project and move forward with the Surf City portion.”
In McDermon’s letter, it was noted that planning has been underway since 2010, when the construction estimate was $ 123.1 million, with a 50-year renovation plan of $ 227.8 million. . Recently, the estimated cost rose to $ 237 million and an additional $ 672.1 million for a 50-year renovation plan.
“More importantly, until 2019, no federal funding was approved for the project, which meant he was in limbo as to whether and when the project would take place,” McDermon said.
With project uncertainty and facing beach erosion issues, North Topsail Beach launched its own project spending over $ 15 million from city funds. Officials said this resulted in a beach designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which allowed the city to cover more.
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Surf City goes solo
Surf City city manager Kyle Breuer said he was working with the Corps of Engineers to provide information and put together the easements needed to run the project.
“We understand that they (North Topsail Beach) had to make tough decisions on behalf of their city,” Breuer said. “We can’t wait to move forward with the project. I think it was planned by the city for some time. I’m really looking forward to getting more information on the current milestones and hopefully getting the project done. “
Breuer plans to communicate with city officials and residents on what to come after receiving more instructions from the Corps.
“We have questions that we hope will be answered very soon,” he said. “They have always worked well with them and we know they will try to do whatever they can quickly to move the project forward. “
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For Surf City, the project will create a new beach dune structure in front of the existing beach berm. The aim is to provide enhanced protection against storms. With changing plans, the cost of Surf City is unknown.
According to Surf City, the entire project was licensed for $ 237 million with a federal cost share of 65% and 35% paid locally based on the riparian space between the two cities. The state of North Carolina also makes contributions.
“But at the end of the day, we won’t know what those numbers will be until they go out to tender and they award an award to a contractor,” Breuer said.
At a July meeting for the Surf City Council, several board members expressed their approval to continue the progress. Pro-Tem Mayor William J. Fowler said there was a “glimmer of light” when the city was informed several years ago, which led to actions for the preparations. He said they’ve been waiting a year to get started, waiting for their sister city of North Topsail Beach to join.
He said there would likely be challenges along the way, but other officials can overcome them together.
“I think it’s a good thing from a fiscal point of view, as well as from a beach renovation and tourism point of view, that we renew our beach and have it as best we can,” added Fowler. “I can’t wait to do it with this board here.”
Journalist Chase Jordan can be reached at [email protected]