January 12, 2006

Ocean Isle renourishment in jeopardy

Ocean Isle renourishment in jeopardy


Ocean Isle Beach's delayed renourishment cycle, originally scheduled for 2004, is in jeopardy once again, according to Col. John Pulliam of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Wilmington District Office.

Pulliam presented that message to the Ocean Isle Beach Board of Commissioners and a meeting room full of interested property owners at Tuesday morning's board meeting, where he vowed to keep fighting for the project to be completed by the government's environmental deadline: May 1.

Only one company submitted a bid for the project, and, like last year, the bid came in significantly over the government's estimate-$18.2 million versus $12.4 million for the entire project-which includes a similar venture at Wrightsville Beach, Pulliam said. The good news is that the bid for the Ocean Isle Beach project alone was not quite as off-the-mark: $3.7 million versus an estimate of $2.8 million.

“I suspect a lot of [the reason for this] has to do with two years of bad hurricanes,” Pulliam said.

He said that he and his staff plan to negotiate with the contractor, Great Lakes, to come up with an amount that is feasible for both sides.

The contractor lodged an official protest of the government's estimate, giving both sides the opportunity to look at the costs involved, which will be a good starting place for negotiations, Pulliam said.

He said that the negotiations will probably take “a couple of weeks” and suggested that the state and local funding might have to be increased in order to get the project completed this year.

If he is successful, it will be the first renourishment since the berm project was constructed in 2001. It was designed as a 50-year project with three-year renourishment cycles.

The renourishment was originally scheduled for 2004, but corps officials determined that the cycle wouldn't be needed until 2005.

Then, last February, the town learned that the bids had come in more than 25 percent over the government's estimates, and therefore, the project could not be completed in 2005.

“There's no way we can put this off until the fall,” Commissioner Richard Donovan told Pulliam Tuesday.

Commissioner D.B. Grantham asked how long it would take to get the project completed if negotiations were successful. The officials responded that it would take 81 days to complete everything.

Pulliam assured the board that the project is a high priority, as did Mary Ellen Simmons of U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre's Wilmington office.

“I cannot assure you enough how committed the congressman is to this project,” she said.

Third Street property owner Jack Oxford, sitting in the audience, commented that the town couldn't afford to “quibble over a few hundred thousand” when it would cost more to replace lost infrastructure on the east end if Third Street is completely destroyed.

Fourth Street property owner Bobbie Fox agreed, saying “It's a critical situation.”

“If Third Street goes, we're going to lose more houses,” she said. “We need to do anything we can do to protect the street.”

In a related matter, the board voted unanimously to allow a group of east end property owners to use the town's Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit, with CAMA approval, to place more sandbags on the strand in front of their homes. The board also agreed to spend up to $5,000 to make other improvements on the strand.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home