County to pay up to $500K for Southern Shores nourishment

By on February 9, 2017

Rapid erosion last fall spurred the project. (Rob Morris)

Dare County commissioners have agreed to pay for half of the proposed Southern Shores beach nourishment project from the county’s sand pumping fund, capping the amount they are willing to provide at $500,000.

Estimates in January had the cost at between $700,000 and $800,000 to hook up to the project this spring in Kitty Hawk.

County manager Bobby Outten noted that since the initial projection by Great Lakes Dock and Dredge, the county’s contractor for the Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills sand pumping, the estimate for Southern Shores’ portion has grown to around $950,000.

The beach nourishment fund has been used to cover about half the cost of the other nourishment projects on the northern beaches, Outten said.

“The town council has not yet decided to do it, but has authorized the hiring of the same project manager as the county and the other three towns,” said Southern Shores town manager Peter Rascoe.

Rascoe said at a council meeting last month their portion of the funding could come from several sources, including the town’s fund balance — essentially its savings account — or by continuing to provide money that is equivalent to amounts budgeted for projects set to be finished at the end of this fiscal year. Less likely would be borrowing the money and paying it back with a tax increase.

A public forum was held the day prior with more than 200 people in attendance, and a majority expressing their support for the project.

Coastal Planning and Engineering has already been hired at a cost of about $45,000 for the engineering and design work for the town and to submit permit applications with state and federal regulators.

In a separate contract, the town will pay the firm $34,000 to put together a profile of the town’s entire beach. The town will save money because the work will be done as part of a post-nourishment survey of the other three towns’ beaches, which Coastal Planning is also leading.

The taper of the widened beach would end just north of the Skyline Road access. (Coastal Planning & Engineering)

Once the costs are firmed up in the next few weeks to a month, the town council will then make a final decision on whether to proceed, Rascoe said.

Rascoe said the late decision by Southern Shores to be included in the Kitty Hawk portion of the project was due to acute erosion north of Kitty Hawk Pier at the end of last summer and early fall.

Southern Shores leaders had decided not to participate in the project when it was first proposed more than two years ago, because the town’s beaches were in good condition, according to Rascoe.

Commissioner Rob Ross expressed concern that federal regulators had placed a maximum limit on the amount of sand the project could pump from offshore of 4,825,000 cubic yards, and that the 125,000 cubic yards of sand needed for the Southern Shores portion would push the project over the limit.

Rascoe said that point was discussed at a meeting in Washington, N.C. with state and federal officials, and both Rascoe and Outten noted that if the Southern Shores proposal jeopardized the overall project they would then not participate.

They were hopeful they can work out modifications to the permits to allow the increase, Rascoe said.

Questions were also raised about the short time frame for getting the permitting finished and for Great Lakes to be able to do the project in its relatively limited schedule of starting in May.

“The key is going to be can their engineer do everything that the permitting agencies require to do in a time frame to get their permits in place,” Outten said.

Outten said Great Lakes estimates they would need about one week for the actual work in Southern Shores and they saw no reason why they couldn’t handle the extra work.

The motion to pay up to $500,000 of the cost of the Southern Shores project passed on a unanimous voice vote.

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