Hooray! North Topsail Beach’s North End is Saved…for now at least!
February 25, 2013
By Amy Baker
Before and After
As we look toward a fast approaching vacation rental season on N. Topsail Beach, both residents and vacationers have much for which to be grateful this year. Most of the northern tip of the island appeared to be sinking under the tide before and definitely after Hurricane Sandy came through in late October of 2012. (See photo below of some homes on the north tip.) Thus, the arrival of Marinex Construction and the dredge, Savannah, in mid-November was a welcomed sight for many.
From thanksgiving until roughly the middle of January, Marinex crews dredged approximately 566,244 cubic yards of sand from the New River Inlet Channel and pumped it onshore. According to a recent press release from the town, this effort increased the channel’s depth to 17 feet and its width to 500 feet. The course sand from the inlet was pumped up onto about a mile and a half stretch of beach on the north end, to renourish and extend the beach about 170 feet seaward. (See before and after photos around the Reef condos and the St. Regis below.)
Success—Both Short and Long Term
From the north tip down to just south of the Shipwatch Villas, the improvement is plain for all to see, (as reflected in the aerial photos, courtesy of Aero Photo, here).
However, the project’s success was recently confirmed by project engineer, Robert Neal of Coastal Planning and Engineering (CP&E), the firm responsible for designing the project. He says, “the initial realignment was a successful venture that came not a moment too soon. The erosion protection is evident for the structures severely threatened prior to construction. I’m also confident future performance will show additional recreational and erosion mitigation benefits created by realigning the channel.”
At a town meeting held earlier this month, Mr. Neal recommended boaters use caution in the inlet, since it is not the same as it was last summer. As of the February 7th town hall meeting, the coast guard had been surveying the area, but markers had not yet been moved to reflect the changes. However, it is likely that they will be repositioned soon.
Of course the channel’s realignment was only the first phase of CP&E’s five phase plan to “bring the town into compliance with FEMA’s requirements for an engineered beach.” What does this mean? Good News! The Town of North Topsail Beach “will now be eligible for federally funded beach restoration caused by major storm events.”
Protecting and preserving our beaches here is important for both the local and state economy. As NTB Mayor, Dan Tuman (pictured right), said,
“Not only do they [wide sandy beaches] afford our residents and visitors with recreation and access to the ocean, they also protect our properties from storm damage. Economically, they attract visitors from all over the country and globe.” Furthermore, “beaches that are nourished save money for the Federal and State government and avoid the stress and misery associated with the destruction of private property and public infrastructure. A State shoreline protection program is wise public policy and is needed in North Carolina.”
Since phase one is complete, the next step is monitoring. From now through September of this year, Mr. Neal will be observing the potential impacts of the realignment on Onslow Beach (pictured below) (which he thinks will be minimal) and along the north end of Topsail Island. He plans to share a report with the town board sometime in September, and follow up by June 2014.
This monitoring will help engineers predict the best timing for the next phase of renourishment, which will probably be about four years from now. According to Mr. Neal, it is possible that we will be able to wait a little longer, however.
Currently, the town is working with Peter A. Ravella (PAR) Consulting, LLC., a beach financing consulting firm, on how they can finance the remaining phases of the project. Hopefully, a portion of the funds will come from the State and Onslow County, since both of these entities will benefit from the project. More details about this are available on-line.
Southern Sand Push
In the meantime, the Board of Aldermen did approve a town funded sand push for more southern portions of the Town’s shoreline, which should be completed by April 1, 2013. For more details about that check out the town’s website.
Hopefully, all of the town’s efforts to nourish our beaches will prove fruitful in the months and years ahead. For now, we are extremely grateful for all that has been done and all that is in the works, so to speak. We want to express our special thanks to Marinex Construction, CP&E and Mr. Robert Neal, as well as the Board of Alderman and all who have helped to make this project a reality.
We look forward to seeing you and your families enjoying a wider beach at the north end this summer!