The town of Surfside Beach has hired a contractor to haul away debris that once comprised its centerpiece pier, but it’s unclear what might replace the structure.
Town Administrator Micki Fellner said in a council meeting weeks ago that parts of the pier were beginning to deteriorate. Now, after Hurricane Matthew destroyed much of the pier, members of town council agreed a special meeting was needed to weigh options for rebuilding, modifying or possibly removing the pier altogether.
All council members called for public input, and Mayor Bob Childs said he was in favor of three different public meetings, so that as many people as possible would be able to attend.
“We’re gonna get plenty of input before we go into this thing,” Childs said. “We’re gonna make sure everybody has a chance to speak.”
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A few different ideas were floated, but the council agreed that the city is short on funds for possible rebuilding. “The reality is no matter what we do, if we decide to rebuild the pier, it’s got to be paid for. That costs money, and money we don’t have,” Councilman Randle Stevens said.
Councilwoman Julie Samples suggested a possible public-private partnership for the pier, and several other council members said a referendum for a bond issue could be an option to finance the project.
A new pier would cost “anything from $2 million to $4 million,” Councilman Tim Courtney said. He said he was not in favor of a bond, but that it would be the decision of residents whether to pass one or not.
One resident, Ken Lukhuff, offered his input on the pier during the town council’s Tuesday meeting.
“That pier has been a problem for a long time. Shorten it up,” he said. “Don’t keep building it out. God doesn’t want it out there or he wouldn’t keep knocking it down.”
The council did not discuss design plans during the meeting, instructing the town administrator to explore different options, but Childs said a pier with a sturdier cement base and wood-plank walkway could be an option.
Over half the pier has been lost, according to Fellner, and town staff are applying for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to cover 75 percent of the cost of a new pier.
“There’s a lot of research that has to happen between now and then, the next council meeting,” Fellner said.
Town Clerk Debra Herrmann said Wednesday night that meetings on the pier had not yet been scheduled.