CAROLINA BEACH — Carolina Beach has approved nearly $70,000 in additional funding to cover cost overruns for the Island Greenway, which has been open just over a year.
The Island Greenway is one of the town’s latest attractions; the project was completed just last year, and although a portion of the project was paid for through grant funds, the project did cost taxpayers some money as well.
The money itself was taken from the town’s Clarendon Avenue Multiuse Path project funding in the amount of $67,390.19 — if and when the Clarendon project resumes (apparently it is on hold for the time being).
The Island Greenway, for the most part, was supported by residents and town leaders and was approved in 2015 — it took four years to complete the 1.2-mile path. However, there were several issues that residents took interest in as construction neared completion — notably — the type of fence used.
The Island Greenway is actually on federal government property on MOSTU (Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point) buffer land and because of this, specific standards had to be met. In order to keep unauthorized people off MOSTU land, the federal government required a fence to be erected. The most cost-effective fence was a simple chainlink fence with barbed wire on top of it.
This is what was chosen for the project, however, once neighbors started complaining about the aesthetics of the fence, Town Council voted to change it — to the tune of $176,000 (it actually ended up costing $243,000).
It’s not necessarily the town’s fault that the project ended up costing more than expected. The engineer had significantly underestimated the cost of materials, specifically fill dirt and stone, according to Project Manager Jerry Haire.
As with other projects the town did have money set aside for contingencies, however, even with that money set aside and some budget underruns, the town is still on the hook for the $67,000.
“We had a 15% contingency built into the project, that was about $150,000, we had 15% built-in for DOT inspector fees, the amount they billed every month varied … there were a lot of running variables…” Haire said.
The NCDOT (which provided the grant funding) was not exactly expedient when it came to providing the town with reimbursement for the project, in fact, the town did not receive those funds until March of this year.
“We hoped, in the end, the project underruns would balance out the project overruns and then the contingency funds and the DOT funds would take care of that, and it came close. In the end we were at $1.402 million expenditures, $1.335 million revenues,” Haire said. “In the end, for a $1.4 million project, we went 5% over.”
While the project did cost the town more than expected, the town’s input to the project only came out to be around 25%, compared to the 20% originally planned for.
Councilmen JoDan Garza and Steve Shuttleworth also pointed out that while the project might, on paper, appear to have overrun only 5%, the fact that the contingency funds were used actually means the project was closer to 20% over budget.
But according to Shuttleworth, it is common for the town to use contingency funds for their projects. Especially for projects like the Island Greenway, material fees change and there could be changes from the DOT that require adjustment the end up using the additional funds, he said.