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Oak Island Council accepts detailed beach report

Posted on September 21, 2021

Oak Island Town Council accepted – but took no action on – a 25-page report on shoreline management from the ad hoc Beach Renourishment Committee. The committee, in the majority, echoed most of the town’s existing plans for a long-term engineered beach that would initially cost roughly $40-million.

Two of the seven committee members offered a dissenting opinion and said that Oak Island might be better served with a smaller scale project.

The committee, chaired by Rick Barry, recommended the town pursue a beach built to withstand a storm expected once every 25 years. The group suggested using municipal service districts and existing tax revenues to fund the plan. It also asked council to consider a paid parking plan which, it suggested, could generate $1-million to $3-million a year.

The committee looked at practices at other beach communities as far as Virginia. It suggested the town hire a lobbyist and work more closely with Brunswick County and other governments.

Barry said engineers stated that Oak Island is losing roughly $4.5-million worth of sand every year it doesn’t act.

“We want Oak Island to be a better place,” he said.

Barry acknowledged that imposing the fees on municipal service districts would be complex and difficult to administer fairly and in a way that most property owners would understand.

Beach committee member Christy Dooley said that the true cost of the project should account for beach sand maintenance every six years that amounts to $32-million. She and member Mary Ann Fox raised concerns about paid parking and how the town would handle parking in the rights of ways.

Fox encouraged the town to work toward beach improvement, even if it meant something less than an “engineered” beach.

Council members received the report hours before the meeting and said they wanted time to review it.

Council also agreed to allow N.C. Sea Grant to install a prototype storm monitoring station before a major hurricane at SE 49th Street. The effort is a joint project with University of Florida and the National Science Foundation.

In other business, council:

• Agreed to move forward with a special obligation bond of $10,061,294 to serve as a bridge loan for work on emergency dunes associated with Hurricane Florence. The town expects to be reimbursed in full by state and federal emergency agencies.

• Agreed to accept a donation of an unbuildable oceanfront lot from Langhorne Canning.

• Accepted a memorandum of understanding with the Beach Preservation Society for operation and support of the Beach Ambassadors program. The volunteers put in 600 hours of work this season, said the society’s Rosanne Fortner.


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