Beach projects at both ends of this Topsail Island town have suffered recent challenges — one from weather and equipment failure, the other from vandalism — but town leaders are working to mitigate the issues.
N. TOPSAIL BEACH | Beach projects at both ends of this Topsail Island town have suffered recent challenges — one from weather and equipment failure, the other from vandalism — but town leaders are working to mitigate the issues.
A request for an extension for Phase 5 of the town’s beach nourishment project was granted by the final regulatory agencies late last week, allowing the project to continue through June 30.
“Everything looks like it’s falling in place and we won’t have any gaps in the work,” said Ken Wilson of Coastal Planning and Engineering at the May 7 town meeting.
Generally all beach nourishment projects must take place during the winter months as to not disrupt the sea turtle nesting season; however, because of bad weather and mechanical breakdowns the project would not have completed by the original April 30 deadline.
Concessions were made to satisfy the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including monitoring for sea turtles throughout the extension period and ceasing construction activities from the time any turtles come ashore until they have returned to the water.
Norfolk Dredging, the company doing the construction, has completed all but approximately one mile of the 3.85-mile project. The extension should allow the company time to complete the rest of the work by the new deadline if there are no further complications.
The town board voted to keep the option of bringing Norfolk Dredging back in the fall just in case unforeseen circumstances prevent the project from being finished by June 30.
Alderman Richard McCartney voted against the measure, saying that the town cannot afford to hire the company to come back in the fall.
“This is our last, greatest, best hope,” he said.
While the work is being done, a pipeline will run along the beach from around 4328 Island Drive southward to where sand is being pumped. Currently that point is around Carver Street. The town anticipates that the project will extend to the town line or close to it at about 188 Sea Shore Drive.
Despite the work being done, the beach will continue to be open with sand ramps placed over the pipeline about every 500 feet for people to use as crossovers. The parts of the beach where actual construction is taking place will be closed on a temporary basis as the work is done.
Tim Baker of Treasure Realty in Sneads Ferry asked that the town not use the extension, saying that it would disrupt vacationers visiting the island.
“During March and April we can move (renters),” he explained but added that in the summer months there are not many available places to move dissatisfied vacationers.
Maryann Marshall and her family experienced the disruption first hand. They live in Rochester, New York, and rented a vacation home in the construction area, arriving on April 18.
“We had no knowledge of what was going on,” Marshall said. “The (real estate agent) didn’t tell us anything and there were no warning signs on the beach to alert anyone.”
In an attempt to access the shoreline, Marshall tried to go over the pipeline. She fell and hurt her knee, leg and shoulder. Subsequently, she and her family spent much of their vacation time on the rental home’s deck rather than on the beach.
Despite the issues with the construction, Marshall said her family loves North Topsail Beach and will be back again later this summer. She said those handling vacation rentals in the area owe it to their customers to warn them of the pipes and machinery that are on the beach.
“We would have moved had we been given the option,” she said.
At the other end of town sandbags that are in place from the northernmost point to the Topsail Reef have been vandalized, according to Town Manager Stewart Turille.
“Vandalism of the bags is continuing to occur,” said Turille. “The police are watching the area closely.”
He said the sandbags and geotube have been sliced.
“We are going to do what needs to be done to protect town property,” Turille said. In addition to increased police monitoring, video surveillance might also be an option.
He also noted that the sandbags in that section continue to perform as expected. Repairs have been made to the vandalized areas and he is issuing a request for proposals to have a contractor maintain the sandbag revetment.
The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management issued a notice on March 26 that the town violated the terms and conditions of its Coastal Area Management Act permit for leaving the large cylinder-type sandbag known as a geotube — which was to be removed upon completion of the project as a condition of the permit — in front of the revetment. Town staff has submitted a permit request to CAMA asking that the geotube be allowed to remain in place.
“It will likely be denied,” said Turille, adding that the town will then request a variance from the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission.
A beach access over the sandbags will be built adjacent to the Building 8 of the Topsail Reef.
“Construction will begin as soon as the contractor completes the final crossover at the parking lot across form the town hall,” said Turille.