North Topsail Beach will consider an offer to fix their north end sandbag problem this week.
Erosion was threatening the structures on the north end of North Topsail Beach and the town and property owners went in together to pay for sandbags, but it ended in a lawsuit for the town.
A settlement between the two was reached in November and a Revetment Committee comprised of the town and some of the plaintiffs was created to work on fixing the sandbags, which aren’t doing their job well enough, according to a press release from late 2017.
The committee received only one bid for the project partly because “nobody wants to touch this job,” Town Manager Steve Foster said previously. After a presentation from Arendell Engineers, which included a required waiver for the company saying they would not be sued, the committee approved recommending the contract to the NTB Board of Aldermen.
These aren’t the only sandbags on North Topsail Beach. Another strip of them are laid in front of Topsail Reef condos and were not included in the revetment project on the north end. The residents there paid for the bags themselves, said Topsail Reef resident Charlie Meyers.
That’s how it’s typically done, Meyers said: property owners pay to protect their own property rather than relying on the town and taxpayer money.
Meyers said Topsail Reef has two lines of sandbags, one of which acts as “soldiers” taking the brunt of wave action and protecting the bags closest to the structures. The residents there paid more than $2 million for the first line of bags alone.
“We paid millions of our own dollars to protect our homes,” Meyers said.
The settlement between the north-end residents and the town states the plaintiffs will pay $450,000 toward a sandbag revetment enhancement project while the town will add $200,000 to the project, according to the 2017 press release.
The lawsuit is a sore subject for many living in North Topsail Beach, Meyers said.
The residents should have paid for their own sandbags, but they’re past that point now and the revetment project is necessary for the north end, he added.
“If the town had not done that sandbag line, their houses would have been gone. There’s no doubt about it,” Meyers said. “The town would suffer monetarily if those houses had washed away.”
By that, Meyers said he means in lost property tax revenue and potentially losing the roadway, which is where people park to fish at the New River Inlet.
“It’s a very important part of the town,” Meyers said.
Foster said he’s looking for guidance on what to do next, whether they want to approve this contract or potentially look for additional bidders. The board also wanted the town attorney’s input on the contract before making any decisions, Foster said.
The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at NTB town hall, located at 2008 Loggerhead Court.
Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com