Local, state leaders gather to discuss issues facing beach communities

On Pleasure Island, the contracts will be sent out for bids shortly, and leaders hope to begin bringing in sand in January
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 4:59 PM EST
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CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Town and city representatives from across New Hanover County gathered Monday morning to meet with legislators and provide updates on issues facing the county’s beach towns.

The breakfast meeting is usually an annual event, however this was the first time in two years leaders were able to get everyone together in light of the pandemic.

U.S. Congressman David Rouzer and N.C. legislators Charlie Miller and Ted Davis were in attendance, as well as mayors, town and county managers, attorneys and council members from Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach and New Hanover County government. Members of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard and MOTSU also shared updates about their organizations.

Each speaker was able to share updates about anything from beach renourishment, to tourism or development.

Beach Renourishment efforts advance in Carolina, Kure beaches

Keeping Eastern North Carolina’s beaches protected is a constant, and costly battle.

Carolina and Kure beaches have fully funded their beach renourishment projects, but Wrightsville Beach is in a holding pattern, at least for the time being

On Pleasure Island, the contracts will be sent out for bids shortly, and leaders hope to begin bringing in sand in January.

The renourishment will be easier in Carolina Beach now that the town plans to buy the Freeman Park property, also acquiring the easements they need to get this round of the renourishment done.

Beach renourishment, though, hasn’t been easy for Wrightsville Beach.

Because of a new interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, they can’t pull sand from the same place they have in years past. It’s an issue that’s delaying the project, and adding on extra cost.

Despite the obstacles before them, congressman David Rouzer says he’s optimistic the issue could be resolved soon.

“Wrightsville Beach has a problematic situation at the moment, but I think we’re going to get it worked out eventually. They have to go to an offshore borrow site, there has to be an environmental study and it’s gonna cost a little more money. In the interim, I’m working on another possible solution that will hopefully help circumvent all of that,” said Congressman Rouzer.

WECT asked Rouzer what his plan is, but he said he couldn’t say what was going on behind the scenes just yet.

USACE surveys to begin on damage from November Nor’easter

The upcoming renourishment cycle is welcome news for beach communities, given the recent nor’easter that shook the coast earlier this month.

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to New Hanover County’s coastal towns, explaining they might qualify for help funding beach repairs.

All three towns saw impacts to their dunes and beach accesses, and Kure Beach sustained damage to its outfall pipes that help the town with drainage.

No one has a definite dollar amount on the damage yet, but leaders in the meeting Monday morning said it could be in the neighborhood of a million dollars.

USACE survey teams are preparing to examine the damage, and leaders are hopeful the beaches meet the criteria to go after money to make the repairs.

“It was a surprise to us,” said Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky. “The storm was more severe than we anticipated so there’s not much more we could’ve done to prepare for it. Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature wants to do, and ‘she’ owns the beach.”

The mayor confirms they’re already working to fix the outfalls and they will have to complete that project before moving on to the accesses that are used the most by the public.

Kure Beach prepares to revamp downtown

The town of Kure Beach is preparing to rework their downtown thanks to a $360,000 grant from the WMPO.

Bloszinsky says they plan to add better sidewalks, crosswalk protections and ADA access points. Though it’s a one-light town, much of the cost comes from the high price to move light poles and electricity sources.

Traffic safety is an important issue for leaders in Kure Beach as the town sits right in the middle of Pleasure Island, between two busy state parks.

“It’s exciting, it’s something we wanted to do for quite a while, and this helps us get it done,” said Bloszinsky. “We want to keep that family-friendly ambiance. We do not wish to see a lot of chrome or steel blocking the beach, but there will be other things that happen. We want to make it safe, we want to make it pretty and we want to make it a credit to the people of Kure Beach.”

An engineering firm is working on the plan now based on the study the town provided to them. The public is expected to see the final plan as early as February.

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