WB nourishment to begin in March

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wrightsville Beach faces a tight schedule for beach nourishment, with the project wrapping up just three days before the April 30 deadline.

The Jan. 8 meeting of the New Hanover County Ports, Waterways and Beaches Commission included an update about the Wrightsville Beach nourishment project and a temporary agreement for a cost-sharing emergency dredging plan of Carolina Beach Inlet.

An email sent Jan. 13 from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager Bob Keistler to Wrightsville Beach town officials showed the project beginning March 24 and finishing April 27. Because of heightened biological activity during warmer months, the permit requires the contractor to complete operations by the end of April.

However, officials have mentioned the possibility of an extension into April if the contractor, Weeks Marine Inc., cannot finish the project by then.

Keistler said in a Dec. 18, 2013, interview the corps made inquiries with agencies tasked with environmental review of such projects. The county’s shore protection coordinator Layton Bedsole said Jan. 13 he believed the corps would hold a meeting with agency representatives to discuss that possibility. But he emphasized the current schedule had the company finishing on time.

After a contract awarding process that was delayed by the federal shutdown and faced above-average demand from ongoing nourishment projects in the Northeast United States, the corps awarded the $15 million contract, which also includes nourishment at Ocean Isle Beach, to Weeks Marine Dec. 18, 2013.

In other business, beach town officials also passed a resolution to recommend a cost-sharing plan to their respective boards.

In August 2011, the county and the four municipalities split the $225,000 required to keep Carolina Beach Inlet open.

During a contentious Dec. 11, 2013, meeting of the New Hanover County PWBC, local government representatives offered differing views about how to determine the share of each municipality, discussing possible formulas using population, boat ownership, proximity and property valuation. 

The first meeting of 2014 was more subdued, with Carolina Beach Town Councilman Steve Shuttleworth asking other representatives to vote on a temporary, one-time fix due to the project’s urgency. He also introduced University of North Carolina economics professor Chris Dumas, whom he said the town was hiring to evaluate the economic impact of the shallow-draft inlet to inform a future long-term cost sharing plan.

The resolution endorsed an agreement nearly identical to the previous plan, albeit with Wilmington’s and Kure Beach’s contributions switched, compared to the last agreement. The two municipalities would pay $14,850 and $4,950, respectively.

Wrightsville Beach’s contribution would remain $4,950, or 2.2 percent.

email sam@luminanews.com

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