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Council Hears Boardwalk Project Update: Project To Start Sept. 2014

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - A project to replace the wooden walkway along the oceanfront at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk is scheduled to begin construction in September of this year.
The Carolina Beach Town Council got an update on the planning and permitting for the project during their June 10th, meeting.
In late February 2014, the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) approved the majority of a variance requested by the Town of Carolina Beach to renovate their existing oceanfront wooden Boardwalk.
The CRC voted to approve the expansion of the existing boardwalk to include doubling  the width of the boardwalk lane from 8 Ft. to 16 Ft., renovating the landscaped coves,  adding windsails for shading, benches, seating areas, swings, improvements to the  sound stage gazebo including a new roof over the sound stage, and improved beach  access points.
The CRC also asked the town to make one last attempt to work closely with one property owner north of the existing boardwalk to attempt the resolve outstanding issues and return to them to make a presentation at a future meeting on a plan to extend the existing boardwalk north to connect to a beach access to provide connectivity to the Town's marina on Canal Drive. 
The existing boardwalk was constructed in 1989 prior to the adoption of current coastal regulations and is a unique amenity along the North Carolina coast.
The project cost is estimated at approximately $1,603,000 part of which will be funded through a $250,000 Water Resources grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources that requires a $250,000 match from the Town and a $603,000 CAMA grant from the State Division of Coastal Management. Last summer the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a grant to the town of $500,000 towards the project.
The project would replace the existing wooden boardwalk within a setback area governed by coastal development regulations. The Town was aware of the issue and submitted a permit application in late 2013 anticipating the permit would be denied and then require them to request a variance from state regulations.
Part of the project extends the existing boardwalk along the beachfront north to Pelican Lane. Mr. Averette owns an oceanfront home within that area and expressed opposition based on concerns of increased foot traffic and noise in front of his property.
Project Coordinator Jerry Haire explained Town staff is working to finalize plans for the project and, "To address the property concerns on the northern extension we have lowered the entire structure one foot to take a little bit of that impact off of the elevation of the frontal dune." He said those structural changes caused a need for other electrical and plumbing changes.
Haire said several seating areas along the northern extension of the project were removed to address concerns from residents that people would congregate in front of their homes creating additional noise.
He said, "As far as permitting, we did receive our expected denial of the CAMA permit for the northern extension. That set us up to submit a variance application to CAMA to go to the CRC July 30th and 31st."
He said an advertisement will be published seeking bids from contractors on June 16th. After final review of the plans, they will open bids on July 23rd.
Haire said a bid could be awarded to a contractor at the Council's August meeting and construction could begin in September with completion anticipated by February of 2015.
Fundraising efforts will begin after completion of the project to pay for benches, swings, landscaping and other amenities.