121417 Pawleys Island: Groin repair will start ahead of beach project
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Repairs were planned before Hurricane Joaquin in 2015.

Pawleys Island: Groin repair will start ahead of beach project

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The town of Pawleys Island will start work this winter to repair damage to its field of 22 rock and concrete groins along the beachfront that was first identified in 2014. The work is estimated to cost $250,000 and will start in advance of a proposed beach nourishment project.

“We will see almost immediate returns,” Council Member Rocky Holliday said. “The groins are not working as they are supposed to.”

The work was included in the town budget for 2018, which received final approval this week.

“This is something we don’t have to wait on,” Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said. “It would make no sense to come back and dig up the sand we put out there.”

The town is currently planning to pump 725,000 cubic yards of offshore sand onto the beach at an estimated cost of $11.8 million. Mayor Jimmy Braswell said the project will create 100 feet of dry sand beach at high tide in front of the southernmost house on the island, where the dunes are regularly flattened by storms. “It’s up to storms and nature how long that will last,” he said, but he added, “that is pretty impressive.”

The actual scale and cost of the project hinge on getting bids from contractors. The town initially planned to place 1.1 million cubic yards of sand, but scaled back the project because the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism reduced the amount of grant funds for the project due to the lack of public beach access in the middle of the island.

The town has since received additional credit from the state for beach access at Hazard Street and First Street because it marked roadside parking for access. It will now fund up to 40 percent of the construction cost instead of 33 percent. “It’s quite a substantial difference,” Fabbri said.

The groin repair will also be eligible for PRT funds, he told the council. He plans to get bids from contractors next month and bring the project back to the council in February.

The groin work was included in a budget that was already showing a $438,000 deficit because of the engineering work for the beach nourishment project ($630,000) and construction of a new Town Hall ($600,000).

The town doesn’t separate capital projects from operations in its budget, principally because it has never had major capital projects.

The Town Hall will be funded with donations that are not shown under revenue. The beach nourishment work, like the groin repair, will be funded from nearly $5.5 million in a beach management fund built up over 15 years.

When the operations are separated from the capital projects, the budget shows a $233,478 surplus next year.

But council members were concerned about the rise in capital spending. “It’s very important that we have a conservative budget and prioritize,” Council Member Guerry Green said.

He proposed cutting funds to replace a patrol car for the police department. He asked Chief Mike Fanning if he would rather have a new SUV or a new Town Hall.

“I spend a lot more time in my car that I do in Town Hall,” Fanning said, adding that the department would make do if necessary.

Along with $45,000 for the SUV, $40,000 for a walkway at Third Street was also cut from the budget.

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