Beach towns always have erosion on their minds, and North Topsail Beach is no different.

At nearly every NTB Board of Aldermen meeting something along these lines is brought up, whether it’s the possibility of working with Homeowners Associations in a partnership, looking at options for the New River Inlet, or working with the state and federal governments on monetary help.

Most recently, the Revetment Committee met to discuss the sandbags on the north end of the beach, which aren’t doing their jobs well enough and caused a lawsuit and settlement between some of the homeowners on the north end and the town.

That lawsuit, as explained by Interim Town Manager Steve Foster, is the reason only one of the several firms the town reached out to agreed to bring a contract forward to update and fix the sandbags.

“Nobody wants to touch this job,” Foster said.

The Revetment Committee was created following the lawsuit’s settlement in November and is comprised of the town and some of the plaintiffs so the two groups can work together on the “revetment enhancement project,” according to a press release about the settlement in late 2017.

James W. Forman Jr. with Arendell Engineers out of Morehead City brought a contract to the committee on Thursday. The contract would work on the beach from Topsail Reef to the inlet.

“We’re not averse to taking on a project like this,” Forman said, but added, “it’s a risky project (and) risk equals dollars.”

Forman laid out the problems with the current sandbags:

• The revetment isn’t continuous which causes gaps in the body of the structure and allows water to rush though, causing erosion behind the bags.

• The sandbags were overfilled originally, so they’re now more rounded and more likely to move.

• There’s no adequate toe structure in place for when the geotube was removed.

• The structure wasn’t constructed to the top elevation indicated in the permit drawings.

• The level of protection hoped for was not achieved.

“We’re here today because of a lawsuit, and that bothers me. It bothers contractors,” Forman said.

Because of that, he said risk management would make a big difference in the price.

In his presentation Forman included the nearly $50,000 cost he estimated for surveying and data collecting, project design and permitting, contractor selection and negotiation, and construction administration. The total budget amount set aside for this project is $650,000.

The purpose of the project is as follows, as laid out in Forman’s presentation:

• Stabilize the shoreline

• Provide protection from ocean inundation

• Protect the tax base

• Minimize damage to residential buildings

• Protect the public and private infrastructure, roads, utilities, and septic systems

The constraints with the project include:

• High risk project, and risk is more expensive

• High energy shoreline

• Project budgets may limit the level of protection provided by the structure

• Regulatory limitations of 45 feet bottom width and 12 foot top elevation

• Fill sand availability, whether they use cheap beach sand or expensive sand hauled from an offsite location

• Qualified contractors, of which there are a limited amount

• The condition and existing reusability of the existing bags

Due to the lawsuit, which included the contractors, Foster said before the company would agree to do the job they would require a waiver from the town. The waiver would state that no matter what happens they would not be sued, and the town would waive any possibility of suing the company.

The contract would also include an indemnification stating that outside of issues directly caused by the engineer – like errors, willful misconduct, and negligent acts – the company would not be held responsible.

Foster estimated that he could be ready to speak with contractors by early May, but some were wary of starting a project like this during tourist season.

The committee approved recommending the contract – but it wasn’t unanimous. Former mayor Fred Burns, Alderman Mike Benson, and residents Tom Best, Richard Farley, and Cynthia Wiford all voted yes while resident Cameron Kuegel voted no.

What this means now, Mayor Pro Tem Joann McDermon explained, is the contract will now be given to the NTB Board of Aldermen to consider for approval.

McDermon asked Foster to ensure the town’s attorney would be available so they could have their legal questions answered prior to making a decision, so the contract is scheduled to be part of their regular monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 5 at North Topsail Beach Town Hall, located at 2008 Loggerhead Court.

 

 

Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com