WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s been more than a year since the Town of Carolina Beach demolished its restroom facilities at Hamlet Avenue’s beach access while plans to rebuild a newer and bigger structure have hit a roadblock.
Construction for the new facility, which was to consist of a new Ocean Rescue station along with public restrooms and showers would have been 4,500-square-feet, was supposed to wrap up in May of this year.
However, prices for the project came in approximately $100,000 over budget so the town has not yet completed the project.
On Tuesday, Town Manager Bruce Oakley gave the Town Council an update as to where the town stands with the project, and what is taking so long.
Essentially, the project came in well over budget and staff is rethinking the next steps, he said.
“We could revise the drawings, eliminate some things for the cost savings. We’ve also decided that we own the plans now we can go out for separate bids to private contractors and see what kind of costs we can get … We can also wait for material prices to drop,” Oakley said.
The town had received a loan for around $660,000 to pay for the construction – but the project bids came in much higher than that. The town had also considered spending some of the room occupancy tax money it receives which are taxes charged for things like hotel rooms and short-term rentals.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth suggested the town look into doing that, especially this year since the town has not spent a lot of the ROT funds it typically does.
“As much as I have opposed spending a lot of ROT dollars on things in the past like this, this is probably a case where we need to see if we have [funds]– especially this year when frankly we didn’t have the fireworks so we saved that $80,000,we’ve has some other issues where we didn’t spend the money…” he said.
Shuttleworth also highlighted the importance of having the facilities not only for the public, but for the roughly 45 lifeguards patrolling the beaches.
“I would really encourage us to figure out a way to get this thing done before too much past Easter next year. If that means we have to come back and ask for $50,000 or $100,000 or $150,000 of ROT funds make the case,” Shuttleworth suggested to Oakley.
Oakley explained the increased costs are mostly coming from the increase in material costs not labor and although the town had $650,000 budgeted, the bid came in closer to $750,000. Mayor LeAnn Pierce suggested the town try and get the contractor to lower the cost but would also support using ROT funds to finish the project.
Town Council told staff to get back to their contractors and ask them to ‘sharpen their pencils’ and get going on the project. It will take about six months to complete, so unless construction begins soon, the town is at risk of not having the facilities ready for next year’s ‘busy season.’