Surf City may get to go it alone on a federal beach nourishment project the town has been trying to secure for more than two decades.
Town officials recently announced that the Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of reevaluating a 50-year project for Surf City after neighboring North Topsail Beach backed out what was originally proposed to be a joint venture among both towns and the Corps.
The Corps is now working on a general reevaluation report, which must be authorized before the Surf City and the Corps can sign a project partnership agreement, obtain easements and ultimately begin construction.
The project is estimated to be complete in 2024, according to a town news release.
Surf City Mayor Doug Medlin in a statement thanked Corps officials as well as Senate and congressional representatives for their work and support of the project for the town.
“After a hard-fought battle, we are finally one step closer to seeing our project begin,” Medlin said. “We are also thankful to North Topsail Beach for working along with us as they were seeking deauthorization which allows us to move forward. Since they declined the project, we can now move on with our part.”
North Topsail Beach’s notified the Corps in July 2021 that the town would not meet the deadline to commit to signing a partnership agreement.
Mayor Joann McDermon explained then that North Topsail Beach aldermen had made the decision for a few reasons, including that the estimated cost of the project had more than doubled since its initial proposal.
North Topsail Beach would have to finance more than $26 million, she said.
The hefty price tag would put too much of a pinch on the town as it was also in the process of funding a Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, project along the same stretch of beach last fall.
A joint project would also limit funding needed to replace a fire station and pay for beach nourishment along North Topsail’s remaining 7 miles of beachfront, which is within a federally designated area omitted from receiving federal funding.
Surf City is looking at paying an estimated $24 million over the course of the 50-year project. That estimate may change once the reevaluation is complete.
“We are pleased that we have identified a clear path to move forward together on this project,” Col. Benjamin Bennett, the Corps’ Wilmington District commander, said in a release. “Construction of this beach is one of our top priorities and we look forward to seeing it through to protect lives and property in the area from coastal storms.”