Town Continues Researching Location For Dredge Material

A $2.7 million dollar project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to hold additional storm water runoff began last year. On August 29th, 2017 the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road.  The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location on the property. Now the Town is researching an alternate disposal location on property  the Town owns near River Road north of Snow's Cut Bridge. Some area property owners have expressed concern. A $2.7 million dollar project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to hold additional storm water runoff began last year. On August 29th, 2017 the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road. The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location on the property. Now the Town is researching an alternate disposal location on property the Town owns near River Road north of Snow's Cut Bridge. Some area property owners have expressed concern.

Town Continues Researching Location For Dredge Material Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 07 November 2018 16:18

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Residents living near property owned by the Town of Carolina Beach off River Road adjacent to U.S. Coast Guard property are concerned with a plan dispose of dredge material removed from the Carolina Beach Lake.

Residents living in The Cape subdivision off River Road have reached out to Town leaders expressing concerns about the potential environmental impact of placing the dredge material on Town owned property located adjacent to  their neighborhood.

Former Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer updated the Mayor and Town Council on August 31st, on the status of restarting a project to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake.

Cramer said the U.S. Coast Guard has not yet approved an easement for access to a disposal site off River Road and until that approval was received, the Town could not seek bids from contractors to complete the project.

Dredging was suspended August 29th, 2017 when the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road.  The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location on the property. Now the Town is searching for alternate locations.

The Council held a workshop on April 24th, 2018 to discuss the future of the $2.7 million dollar project to finish dredging the lake as well as the cost of disposing of material already removed from the lake being held on Army property off Dow Road.

The Town Council previously voted unanimously to terminate a contract with Civil Works Contracting to dredge the lake  during their December 12th, meeting.

In October the Town was notified that owners of one alternate location changed their minds about taking on the material following soil tests which showed higher levels of arsenic suitable for commercial use, but not residential use.

During an April 24th, meeting the Council wanted more information on options ranging from leaving the remaining material in the lake, finishing the project, and exploring the use of Town land located north of Snow's Cut Bridge off River Road behind U.S. Coast Guard property. That plan would require building a road across the Coast Guard property to access the Town's property. According to the Town, the location was the site of an old landfill before being deeded to the Town in 1954.

The goal of the project was to make the lake deeper to a consistent depth of 6' to 8' feet and improve capacity to hold approximately 16 million gallons of storm water runoff that has traditionally caused flooding of surrounding properties and roadways. The total volume to be removed from the lake was estimated to be approximately 83,000 cubic yards of material. The original completion date for the project was scheduled for February 9th, 2018. When the project was suspended August 29th, 2017, the contractor had removed approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material to the wastewater treatment plant.

On June 18th, Cramer said that some of the dredge material has already been removed from the Army property and used for a new Island Greenway project that includes an asphalt bike and pedestrian path on Army property leading from Mike Chappel Park on Dow Road south to Alabama Avenue. He said the Army approved use of the dredge dirt and that saved the Town approximately $42,000 for the overall project cost.

In June the total estimated cost to build a temporary road across the Coast Guard property to the Town's land off River Road north of Snow's Cut Bridge was estimated at $186,673. The total estimated cost to compete excavation of the remaining material in the lake, including development of the disposal site, engineering and excavation, was $1,612,558 to $2,520,693. One short term option approved by the Army is to move material already on the property from one location to another location on the property that was previously approved as a brown field for disposal. The material would still have to be removed within three to five years. Cramer explained Tuesday June 19th, that cost could be as low as $60,000 after he spoke to a contractor that expressed a desire to buy the dirt from the Town.

The total estimated cost in June for removal of the remaining dirt on the property and completing the project ranged from $3,146,198 to $4,054,333. Cramer said the difference was due to reluctance of contractors to give firm cost figures because of the time-frame and other logistics.

Cramer explained during a Council meeting in July, "If we get going and do this in a timely fashion, we could start in November or December and be completed at the latest by July. Our goal is to complete it in four months. What I'm a little bit hesitant to do is to throw out a number that says it's going to be four months and it takes six months. We hope that we will be able to go and put the information in the bid documents so we can get a better estimate. That's really what you want, you want the contractor to give you the estimate on time."

Cramer explained, "I mentioned the potential cost for the projects. Phase One of the project cost us approximately $1.4 million dollars. Now that is not just in the excavation and the hauling. That is also the engineering that we had to do and any clean up type work that we had to do. There are a few other items in there that are added on. Now at the workshop the Council had some questions about specifically what items those were and I can get you a detailed breakout of every item if you like on what makes up that $1.4 million. But basically it is $1.2 million dollars and some change in the actual dredging and hauling of the material and then the additional funds are from engineering and miscellaneous things like environmental tests that we've done."

Cramer estimated that Phase Two would complete the dredging project and would cost, "Anywhere between the $1.6 and the $2.5 million and that all depends on what bids we get back in at the time." He said, "All told, the project cost overall would be somewhere between $3.1 and $4 million dollars. That's our estimate and our engineers estimate off the information we have."

Cramer said, "Our original budget for this project was $2.9 million dollars. We've spent the $1.4 million already. We have a remaining balance of another $1.4 and like I said, our project estimates are anywhere between $1.6 and $2.5 million dollars. Which means we would need an additional resource to cover the estimate of anywhere between $202,000 and $1.1 million."

Cramer told Council in July the goal was to request bids from contractors and bring those bids to Council at their October 9th, meeting for Council to consider awarding a contract for the second phase of the dredging project. The goal was finish the project between April and July 1st, 2019.

In July Mayor Joe Benson requested a weekly update stating, "Just a weekly update on how we are moving towards that. A little bit of expectation management not just from the contractor, from commencement of work, mobilization, demobilization and when we're done. That will definitely help." The Council voted unanimously to approve his motion.

On August 31st, Cramer informed Council, "We have not received the temporary access from the Coast Guard for the disposal site.  This significantly impacts the bid for the Lake Dredging because we can’t provide proof to the bidders that we have a location to place the spoils.  In order for us to bid, award the contract and issue a Notice to Proceed with the project to a contractor by December 17, 2018 we have to have the Coast Guard Access so we can go to bid No Later Than October 15, 2018.  Worst case is that we don’t get the access by October 15 and the project is postponed.  With holidays it could be postponed by 3 months.  The main hold up at the Coast Guard is the Environmental Division Manager who needs to approve the project.  He is out of the office until September 13th.  We believe we have sent everything he needs, but cannot confirm that until he returns."

Earlier this year Mayor Joe Benson asked Cramer to reconsider an option of using 9,000 cubic yards of dredge material to build a new island in the lake. He explained, "Moving 9K of material to an island would increase capacity, however minimal, and help to minimize the algae on the east side of the lake. Not to mention, this option would save tax payer dollars. Something which should always be a priority."

Hurricane Florence made land fall in New Hanover County on September 14th, and since that time the Town has been focusing on storm related recovery as well as the Council's decision to terminate the employment contract with Michael Cramer.

At this time Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin is serving as Interim Town Manager until the Council can field applicants and vote to hire a new Manager in the coming months.

On Monday November 5th, Parvin said the process to determine the next step in the lake dredging project and where to dispose of both the material already removed from the lake as well as the remaining material still in the lake is moving slowly.

Parvin explained, "As we discussed yesterday the Town has been looking for a site to put the Carolina Beach Lake spoils materials for several years.  The Town does own property in the vicinity of the old Coast Guard Loran Station and this currently does appear to be a viable option worth exploring.  However, prior to moving forward with this or any option the Town will fully vet the impacts and ensure all required permits and environmental concerns are addressed.  In order to accomplish this task we do need to work with various local, state and federal agencies.  The Town has already reached out to have many of these discussions and we will continue to work with all on a final plan."

Parvin said at this point the Town is preparing to test samples from the property located adjacent to the Coast Guard property and The Cape to investigate the current status of  the soil on the property as well as examine the area for stormwater elevations and runoff.

He explained, "If our plan to utilize the site will negatively impact adjacent property owners and/or is not fiscally viable then we will not move forward.  Right now we are still gathering information so no immediate action is being taken to utilize the property.  Once we have all engineering and environmental permitting documents we will submit our final plan to be reviewed and scrutinized by all required regulatory agencies."

He explained, "I don’t have a time line as there are still many unknowns, but we will continue to give updates and post information on our website.  If you go to our webpage and click on the “Projects” tab in the middle of the page it will take you to a list of projects the town is working to complete or has recently completed.  We will post project information on this site as it comes available."

That direct link is: https://www.carolinabeach.org/Projects/index.php

The homeowner's association for The Cape as well as a number of residents have sent emails to the Mayor and Council expressing their concerns about potential environmental impacts on ground water and impacts to property values that could result from placing dredged material from the Carolina Beach Lake on property adjacent to their neighborhood.

One of the residents explained in an email on November 4th, "As a resident of The Cape subdivision, I am writing to you to voice my concern and opposition to the Town of Carolina Beach’s plan to dump the waste from the lake dredging project on to Parcel R08500-002-006-002. This parcel of land abuts Parcel R08500-002-068-000, which is part of The Cape subdivision. I question exactly what will be dumped there, and what are the proposed actions to establish natural ecosystem function, to remediate and control on/off-site transport of materials at the dump site and prevent seepage into the ground waters of the local area and our Aqua well water we drink?"

Some of the concerns expressed in the email included the potential presence of toxic elements in the dredge material such as arsenic or cancer causing heavy metals and whether or not the site will be opened or lined pits.

Residents are also concerned about the odor of the material and potential to be blown by the wind onto other properties.

One resident wrote, "The parcel is in the flood zone so breaching and overflow is an obvious concern.  Hurricane Flo illustrated that flooding does occur at the site" and, "Its proximity to Telfair’s Creek, which flows from Snow’s Cut past this parcel of land and through The Cape community. "

Parvin said he has spoken with at least one person living in The Cape and will speak to other residents about their concerns and the project in the coming weeks.

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