CAROLINA BEACH — Carolina Beach Town Council has decided the look of a chainlink fence on its new greenway project won’t work and is now exploring more expensive options at the behest of a small number town residents — but first the town will destroy thousands of dollars of fence that has already been installed.
The project is going to cost the town a significant amount of money that was not budgeted for previously, impacting many beyond the biggest opponents to the fence, those who have views of the greenway.
Should the rest of Carolina Beach’s residents be responsible for footing the bill to preserve the views of a few?
According to Town Council, that answer is, tentatively, “yes.”
On Tuesday, after complaints from those neighboring the fence, Town Council agreed to table the topic and bring it forward for a discussion at a later date, when the town could then decide on a replacement fence for the greenway.
Earlier this summer Mayor Joe Benson put a stop to the fence construction that had already begun after residents complained that it would look like a prison.
The fence is a requirement from the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) since the new greenway will make its way through federal property. Several years ago, the Town Council approved the chainlink fence, opting for it over a more aesthetically pleasing option for the sake of the town’s budget.
More than just a fence
Because the lease agreement with MOTSU specifically states the chainlink (FE-6) fence would be used, an amendment to the lease agreement is going to be required. Aside from an amended lease agreement, the change will have to be approved in writing from MOTSU Command as well as the US Army Savannah District Chief of Real Estate.
This review and approval will take several weeks at minimum if not months. This means that the town cannot start any fence work or open the trail to the public. The town had originally planned for a September completion of the greenway project.
The military is not the only hurdle the town faces. The North Carolina Department of Transportation provided 80 percent of the funding for the $1.2 million project. Any changes to the fencing will now require approval by NCDOT.
Finally, a change order must be made to the existing construction contract.
As it stands the fence that the town originally agreed to cost less than $100,000, coming in at $81,151. The town has already been billed $32,784 for the fencing that has been installed already, meaning the available balance from the line item budget is only $48,367.
The town has received several quotes for more decorate fencing, a black vinyl coated chainlink fence could cost anywhere from $100,698 to $138,938, depending on different options. A commercial grade black aluminum fence with a 10-percent contingency would cost $260,185.
While Town Council apparently plans to remove the existing fencing, they tabled the discussion about what to replace it until a later date. At press time, members of council had not responded to requests for comment.
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