Getting closer and closer to happening, the beach renourishment project was a primary focus of Monday’s Pawleys Island Town Council meeting.

Mayor Jimmy Braswell commented that Marinex Construction, Inc. has a target date of Oct.1 to start its work. A total of six agenda items dealt with the beach project.

During a public comment period, former mayor Bill Otis said, “I think you guys have made some great decisions, really, really great decisions.”

“The decision you made last year was the right decision.” That comment referred to the town accepting the offer to go along with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers potential agreement to do a renourishment project first put forward in 2004. At that time, the Town of Pawleys Island was almost ready to go ahead with the project on its own. The Corps project had significant financial benefits for the town, including paying for the majority of the project and a plan to also fund a large part of future beach renourishment. In the past several weeks, however, actions and comments by the Corps office in Washington, D.C., have put off the project for perhaps another year. Town Council then recently decided to go ahead with the project on its own.

“The decision you have to make this year,” Otis said, “I think again it’s a very tough decision. I think you guys have made the right decision. Looking at the economy, I hope you will put as much sand as you possibly can. As this will stretch out, it might be a long time” before another project would be done.

“We did the first beach renourishment 15 years ago,” Otis said.

Busy agenda

Among the six renourishment agenda items, the first was to authorize Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Corps.

“This is to get the best of both worlds,” Fabbri told Council. “By signing the MOU, we can get credit for doing the project on our own. If funds ever do come available, we can count that money towards the cost. Is it likely? I wouldn’t bet money on it, but there is potential. When we were first approached three years ago – we already comply with all that stuff. But, easements were a hurdle. We weren’t going to acquire easements for a project that might not occur. But now, the easements have been done. They are in hand.”

“Just to be clear, the Army Corps is not deterring from its path.”

If things work out the Corps could come back.

“We’ll get credit for any work we’ve done.”

Mayor Jimmy Braswell said, “So there’s no downside to signing this thing.”

Council members Sarah Zimmerman and Rocky Holliday asked about the size of the project and how long easements would last.

Zimmerman noted that “I’m still looking at the dollar amount of a cubic yard of sand. This is the best price we’re ever going to get.”

Holliday asked how long the easements would last, and Zimmerman said “they’re perpetual.”

The two Council members offered motions to approve signing the MOU with the Corps and the motion was approved unanimously.

Council also approved an agreement with Marinex to do the beach renourishment.

The contract is written to do a minimum of 850,000 cubic yards of sand. Fabbri said if the town decided to do more than that – up to the already approved 1.1 million cubic yards, Marinex would do the additional sand at the agreed-upon discounted cost per cubic yard of sand.

The number of cubic yards would affect how much money the town would have to borrow to do the project, Fabbri said. The amount to borrow would be $1.2 million for the base 850,000 cy project. It would be about $2.6 million to go up to 1.1 million cubic yards of sand.

Council approved Holliday’s motion to authorize signing the contract with Marinex. Along with these items, Council also voted to approve:

* Sign an agreement with First Tryon Advisors to act as Municipal Advisor for the proposed Accommodations Tax Revenue Bond.

* Authorize the town administrator to sign agreement with Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd for Bond Counsel Services for the proposed Accommodations Tax Revenue Bond.

* Authorize the Town Administrator to execute a grant agreement with South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the beach renourishment project.

Council members also talked about the scope of the project. Many seem to favor putting more sand on the beach, up to the approved 1.1 million cubic yards. But they are cautious about having to borrow more money to put an additional 250,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach.

Fabbri said that “700,000 cubic yards is your base profile. Doing an 850,000 cy project we’ve got three years’ worth of erosion built in. With a 1.1 million cubic yard project, you’ve got 10 years built in,” based on past rates of erosion.

“What you’re looking at, if you renourish in 10 years you’re building on an ideal project. I think that would make sense to borrow more money if you’re going to do the larger project,” Fabbri said.

Ultimately, Council members agreed to have a special called meeting to discuss engineering and financial effects of borrowing enough money to do the 1.1 million cy project.

They are targeting making the decision on whether to go to the larger amount by the September Town Council meeting.