More beach accesses will be open soon thanks to tourism funding.
The Onslow County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved funding the North Topsail Beach Access and Crossover Project with the county’s tourism funds. It will enable the county to pay for and issue contracts to professional services and construction to fix and repair the stairs, ramps, and facilities that allow the public access to the beaches of the coastal town.
The money will come from the county’s tourism funds with the expectation that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the county for the repairs, according to Onslow County Director of Parks and Recreation Janis Steele. Tourism funds are generated in part through the county’s occupancy tax, which places a 3% tax on every hotel room rented in the county, according to Donna Hammonds, the Tourism Manager for the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce.
The total cost of repairs is estimated to be $709,000 and will be split between two projects.
The first project will cost $452,628 and will repair beach accesses, including facilities like bathrooms, showers, stairs, ramps, and concession vendors. The other half of the project will fix and strengthen the crossovers, which are stairs that go over the sand dunes and are used more by local residents and renters to enter the beach, at a cost of $256,372. Some of the money will pay for architectural and engineering services, while the bulk will go toward construction costs.
“If there’s any way to come under that we absolutely will,” Steele said. “But we wanted to make sure we had enough to cover it.”
The county wants to start on the repairs now, which is why the tourism funds are being used instead of waiting for FEMA funds. Steele said the amount of time it takes the county to go through all the regulations, steps, and processes FEMA requires was the main reason the county is starting the project now.
Engineering and professional services have already been hired by the county, Steele said, and the open bidding for construction companies to make the repairs to the beach accesses will begin on June 11. Steele said the county is prioritizing fixing the accesses first because they generate more tourism money than the crossovers.
The crossovers will be quicker and easier for the county to fix or maintain, Steele said. While each crossover has its own unique needed repair, Steele said the county’s goal is to ensure their long-term stability and durability. The county currently checks the safety of the crossovers every day.
Most of the accesses and crossovers are still usable, Steele said. Beach access #2’s ramp was destroyed, while access #4 is completely closed. There are three beach accesses and eight crossovers that need repairs, out of four beach accesses and 13 crossovers.
Steele said the hope is for all repairs to be done by the end of July.
Reporter Kevin Vandenburg can be reached at 910-219-8453 or email@example.com. For digital subscription information, click here.