Nourishment is officially a go for Nags Head

By on April 6, 2011

Great Lakes project in Brevard County, Fla.

Other than the weather or equipment failure, no more obstacles appear to be in the way of Nags Head starting to pump sand onto 10 miles of beach this spring and finishing by October.

Pending litigation will not affect the timetable, and the state has approved a financing plan, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said Wednesday.

As early as mid-June, Ogburn said, residents and visitors will likely see the first of up to four dredges, the Texas, a vessel the length of a football field, pumping sand from off the South Nags Head shoreline.

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Ogburn told the Board of Commissioners that the state’s Local Government Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved borrowing up to $18 million in special obligation bonds to pay for half of the project.

That was the last regulatory hurdle the town faced.

Another $18 million will come from the Dare County Shoreline Management Fund.

A lawsuit challenging the town’s method for obtaining easements is no longer a class action, so contractors can work around the 22 individual properties involved plus another 23 from which the town has not yet obtained easements, Ogburn said.

The town has received signed permission from the owners of the rest of the 715 oceanfront properties where sand will be placed. In addition to the 22 properties in the easement challenge, nine others are involved in different litigation. The rest have not returned signed documents for various reasons, Ogburn said.

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The only loose ends left are next week’s closing on the loan with RBC Bank and the county formally enacting the additional 1 percent of the countywide occupancy tax that was authorized last year by the General Assembly. That would put the rate at 6 percent.

To help pay back the loan over five years, Nags Head is counting on $2 million of the $3 million to $3.5 million that will be generated annually by the extra 1 percent. Plans to cover the rest now call for 2 cents per $100 of value being added to the property tax rate townwide and a tax of 16 cents on oceanfront properties in two special districts in Nags Head.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. has been awarded the contract to pump 4.6 million cubic yards of sand onto the beach from offshore. The company will use as many as four dredges to do the job.

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Tentative plans call for the company to begin mobilizing in mid-May with the first dredge going to work by mid-June, Ogburn said.

The dredge Texas will start pumping sand onto the the beach at Outer Banks Fishing Pier and work south. By the end of the first week of July, two hopper dredges are expected to be brought in to work on the mid-section of the beach around the clock, Ogburn said.

In August another hopper is scheduled to start to work down from the northern limit at Bonnet Street.

Barring significant delays from the weather or equipment failure, Great Lakes sees the work being done by Oct. 1, Ogburn said. But there could be some variations in the scheduling.

Work will be limited to about a 500-foot section of beach each day and walkovers will be put over pipes to try to minimize disruptions. The pipes will extend along a larger section of beach and remain for more than one day.

“They’re fully ware of the inconvenience that it’s going to cause,” Ogburn said. “So they would prefer to have the beach sectioned off first thing in the morning and stay that way for the entirety of the day. Then they plan for the next day’s nourishment that evening.”

The town is scrambling to set up a system of keeping renters and management companies up-to-date on beach conditions. Brochures will be given to management companies to include in renters’ packets, said Roberta Thuman, the town’s public information officer. They will also be given to lifeguards to hand out on the beach.

The dredge Texas will be the first to arrive.

A real-time map online will show where work is planned. But Ogburn said that until Great Lakes mobilizes, it cannot provide an exact schedule of where it will be on any given day.

Commissioner Anna Sadler suggested putting a positive spin on the project for visitors, saying they “should be honored to be here while it’s going on.

“It’s a first for Dare County and while they may be a bit inconvenienced, they are a part of history.”

But Sadler said the main objective should be to move quickly to make sure visitors are informed so they can make a choice on whether to stay in Nags Head or go elsewhere on the Outer Banks.

This will be the first time an engineered project so large has been attempted on the dynamic northern Outer Banks. It is an offshoot of a countywide project that stalled after failing to receive federal funding.

Nags Head Mayor Bob Oakes has acknowledged that the project is an experiment, but he has said that there is every reason to believe that it could last up to 10 years. The project, he said, is replacing 16 years of erosion loss.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. photos.

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