SURF CITY — A new town hall is in the works at Surf City.
Nearly three months after major flooding during Hurricane Florence forced town administrators from their offices on Topsail Island, a 3-acre parcel of land adjacent to Publix was given to the town by longtime local property owner Allan Sullivan.
“We were very fortunate to receive the donation of land from Mr. Sullivan,” Town Manager Ashley Loftis said. “Being that the Sullivan family owns many properties, Mr. Sullivan gave us a couple of different parcels to choose from. In the end, we felt that the piece located near Publix would be the best fit for the town and our new town hall.”
Town administrators have been working from two rooms in the Surf City Community Center, where they have also held town council meetings and public forums.
Loftis said the previous town hall experienced major flooding on the first floor, “to the extent that everything was ruined and mold has grown.” Rain also entered through a blown-out window and through leaks in the roof, buckling the upstairs floor, according to Loftis.
Councilman Jeremy Shugarts said that Sullivan’s donation was announced at a town council meeting on Tuesday evening then unanimously approved by the council.
“We are grateful for this as a city,” Shugarts said.
Mayor Doug Medlin said the donation from Sullivan, a former resident in Surf City who now lives in Garner, is particularly meaningful because of the man’s established roots in the town.
“We were at Topsail together when there were only five kids from the island in that school,” Medlin said. “It warms my heart to have a local person like this give us the property.”
The community center has removed certain programs from its agenda because of the temporary town hall setup, and Medlin said he hopes to begin construction on the donated plot quickly, with the aim of a phased relocation of town staff by the summer.
Still waiting on FEMA approval
But like the town’s plan to renourish its beaches with approximately 350,000 cubic yards of sand, funding for the town hall relies on FEMA approval — a process Medlin compared to students in school seeking permission slips — and that approval has not yet been given.
Medlin said he met with a FEMA representative on Tuesday, who told the mayor that any unapproved projects would receive no federal funding.
“We gave him our outline [of needs] and now they’re getting all the paperwork together to see what they can do to help us,” Medlin said.
He was encouraged, however, by Governor Roy Cooper’s visit to Surf City on Thursday, who listened to the town’s concerns about FEMA funding for the beach renourishment project, construction of the new town hall, and smaller projects like beach crossovers that were wiped out during Florence.
“That was a big plus for us today I think,” Medlin said.
The governor also took a walk along the town’s new high-rise bridge that opened to traffic on Tuesday and visited local business owners impacted by the hurricane, according to Medlin.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com