East Charlotte Street was Congressman Mike McIntyre’s first stop in Wrightsville Beach during a coastal tour of his district.
On Thursday, April 24, McIntyre headed to Public Beach Access No. 24 to witness and discuss ongoing beach renourishment projects where the past weekend’s weather caused severe beach strand erosion.
“Wrightsville Beach has, and I kid you not, what we consider the gold standard of beach renourishment, and I’ve always said that not just here but at meetings in Washington,” McIntyre said.
Bob Keistler, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager, showed the congressman a map of the 2014 Wrightsville Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project. Crews began pumping sand Wednesday, April 23, at noon.
Earlier Thursday morning, the corps was granted an extension to continue work during the environmental window for sea turtles’ nesting season through midnight May 31.
“We would like to finish before Memorial Day,” Keistler said.
McIntyre, who is soon retiring after 18 years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, commended Wrightsville Beach’s renourishment efforts.
“You all have done a great job and we appreciate the example you have set, and we’re glad to be able to help you too,” McIntyre said. “…We want to be able to share this beauty of the good Lord’s creation, and we want to be able to maintain it. That’s why it’s such an environmental treasure, but it’s also an economic engine.”
The second and final stop was Public Beach Access No. 31 at Chadborne Street, where pipes were pumping sand and water and bulldozers were operating beyond orange fencing.
Keistler explained the renourishment process, saying crews would travel north on the beach strand moving pipes as they go until they reach the Holiday Inn Resort.
McIntyre said in the past that every administration, whether Democratic or Republican, prioritizes areas other than the coast.
“It is a perpetual problem, because that’s why those of the coastal areas have to be ever vigilant,” McIntyre said. “There’s always a problem, because other representatives who are from inland areas of the country don’t understand the importance of beach renourishment. I don’t know of any other federal program that’s gives you a 320:1 ratio of return on investment. In other words, for every $1 spent on beach renourishment, it generates $320 in revenue. I have yet to find or hear of any other federal program that gives that kind of return.”
McIntyre left Wrightsville Beach and headed to Ocean Isle Beach to look at the beach renourishment project underway there.
“We’re going from Sunset Beach all the way to Surf City,” McIntyre said.
Afterward, Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said McIntyre has done a lot for Wrightsville Beach and called him a friend of the town.
“Going forward, I think the beach renourishment dollars will be more difficult to secure,” Blair said, adding the town will have to work closely with the person who fills McIntyre’s seat to ensure continuity.