Staff photo by Joshua Curry
Beachgoers sit on the top of the escarpment near Columbia Street on Tuesday, April 16.
Prior to the New Hanover County Port, Waterway, Beach Commission meeting, Wrightsville Beach town manager Tim Owens informed the commission that President Barack Obama’s FY 2013-14 budget allocates $8 million for the upcoming Wrightsville Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project. Obama’s budget, which was released last week, also allocates $150,000 for a Masonboro Inlet project.
Owens, Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti, and NHC shore protection coordinator, Layton Bedsole, were pleased to hear the news since there has been increasing speculation about the federal government’s contribution for this coming year and in the future.
The Wrightsville Beach CSDR project is scheduled to begin sometime this winter or the spring of 2014. Planning for the project will begin this spring.
The ongoing CSDR project in Kure Beach is progressing but falling behind schedule, Bedsole said. An extension has been approved and it is expected to be completed by April 17. An environmental window extension has subsequently been requested for the Carolina Beach project but not granted yet. The expected start date for that project is April 20.
Continuing a discussion initiated at last month’s PWBC meeting, the commission decided to uphold its member representation numbers from the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County. Initially there was a request to increase the total membership from 15 to 16, with one more appointee from Wilmington City Council to equal the number appointed by the county commissioners plus the addition of a representative from Figure Eight Island as a nonvoting member. The change was also partially recommended to create an odd number of voting members, from 14 to 15.
At the PWBC’s April 10 meeting, county commissioner Tom Wolfe said it was the consensus of the county commissioners he spoke with that the county should have a majority representation since the PWBC is a county organization.
In response, PWBC chairman David Weaver proposed changing the representation to seven from the county and five from the city but Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady protested, stating he felt the change would create a problem instead of solving one.
“I don’t know what we are fixing,” O’Grady said. “I’m not at all concerned that there is an even number, there have not been a lot of close votes, or for that matter, any votes except the vote to change the votes.”
As a solution, Cignotti proposed the chairman vote on tied votes, thus keeping the same representation and providing a tiebreaker. The other members of the PWBC agreed with Cignotti’s recommendation and unanimously voted for the change, as well as the addition of a nonvoting Figure Eight Island representative.