Topsail Beach nourishment project splits leaders and residents

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (WECT) - A controversial beach nourishment project in Topsail Beach is splitting the leadership and residents of Topsail Beach.  One group has worked for years to raise funds for the new sand, the other think it's taking too much out of taxpayer pockets.

The nourishment project was slated to begin around this time next year, but after a commissioners meeting Wednesday night, the project could be lost at sea.

During their meeting, the board voted to dismantle the Topsail Beach Shoreline Protection Committee, a group that looks at how to preserve the beach.

Many Topsail residents say they are outraged by the actions of the commissioners, and a high tide of opposition rose against newly elected Topsail Beach commissioners in their first meeting.

The protection committee has been working on the $12 million beach nourishment project for ten years.  Mayor Howard Braxton is upset about the dismantle of the group because they have put in the hard work to make the project possible.

"They have done all the paper work and leg work, and they have done a beautiful job putting everything together in getting all the permits," said Braxton.

Braxton believes the commissioners are less than satisfied with the price tag for the project.  Even with $9 million already raised, the town would still have to borrow more money from a bank to start the project on time.

Beachfront resident Grayson Reville is pleased with the decision and said she would like a federally funded project, not one that is privately funded.

"It is not the best form of beach nourishment for our town due to the fact that the expense has gone over what we were told it would be," said Reville.

Commissioners decided to move forward with getting easements from oceanfront homeowners, which is an essential part in the nourishment process.

Commissioners will hold a public meeting January 2 where oceanfront homeowners will be able to ask questions and voice their concerns about the nourishment project.

According to the mayor, the final decision on the nourishment project will take place after that meeting.

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