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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Carolina Beach looking to dump lake dredging debris near federal LORAN Station property

Carolina Beach's ill-fated lake dredging project is stalled. One plan to get the project moving would once again use federally owned property -- just not MOTSU's.

Excavators sit idly by in Carolina Beach while the town tries to find a location to dump dredging spoils after a misunderstanding with MOTSU (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The Lake Dredging Project in Carolina Beach was terminated in 2017 (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

CAROLINA BEACH — A decision on how to handle Carolina Beach’s expensive and problematic dredging project could be reached as early as the upcoming Town Council meeting.

The project commenced in 2017 and halted shortly afterward due to a misunderstanding with Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU). Bedeviled by issues with MOTSU, rising contractor costs, and environmental issues, the lake dredging project has been a source of frustration for residents and public figures alike.

Related: Lake dredging in Carolina Beach could resume as early as July

On Tuesday, Town Council held a workshop to discuss several different options, and to give staff an idea of a direction they would like to head in. Several options are available including leaving the lake as it is or continuing with the lake dredging.

Town Manager Michael Cramer offered council ideas for new disposal locations, as well as potential costs if the council decided to move forward with the lake dredging.

After the mishap with MOTSU, in which the town essentially violated their agreement with the US Army facility, finding a new location to place the dredged materials has been regarded as paramount if the town is to resume the project. One option included bringing the dirt to the New Hanover County Landfill, 23 miles away, but that would be a costly endeavor due to drive times and the cost of disposal.

“What we’re talking about is removing anywhere from zero to 50,000 cubic yards of material out of the lake and that is the eastern portion of the lake … As one of the components of this the disposal location becomes highly critical because if you move the soil from the lake and you go to New Hanover County Landfill there’s going to be an hour-and-a-half turnaround time per truck because you have travel time and things like that,” Cramer said.

The LORAN Station

One possible solution involves dumping the dredging material on Department of Defense property, just not at MOTSU.

The Town of Carolina Beach actually owns a piece of property which could be used as a disposal site behind the LORAN station north of Snow’s Cut. The federal property is located on 210 acres off of River Road. The LORAN station housed now de-commissioned radio navigation towers used first by the Navy and then by the US Coast Goard.

One of the problems with the land is it is not accessible; in order to get trucks with the dirt to the town-owned property, a road would have to be constructed through the LORAN property.

According to Cramer’s presentation, the uppermost cost to install a usable road to dump the materials would come in under $200,000.

“Currently we have all the permissions necessary to use that property and we have a jurisdictional determination from the Army Corps (of Engineers) and things of that nature for that property … One of the things that has changed over the course of the last couple months is in talking with the Coast Guard they are really not interested in giving us at this point in time a long-term access lease,” Cramer said.

This means that while the town would likely be able to construct the road and use it to dump the material, once the dredging project was complete, the town would no longer have access to the site. It would also render the $200,000 road unusable.

It could be possible for the town to get a long-term access lease in the future, Cramer said.

No decision was made during the council workshop, but the council did agree to bring the discussion to the upcoming July 11 council meeting.

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