Residents of Surfside Beach spoke Thursday night at a council workshop in support of replacing their pier, which was partially destroyed during Hurricane Matthew in October.
Brady Simpson, who’s worked in the tackle shop on the pier for 13 years, said not rebuilding would be “the worst thing that would ever happen to Surfside Beach. I think we need a pier and I think we need it as quick as we can get it.”
But while the room was united in the idea of replacing the pier, multiple options were laid out for its structural and financial future.
Several people voiced support for replacing the pier’s foundation with concrete, instead of the current wood structure. It’s a more expensive option, but residents largely said they would support a structure that could last longer.
“If we’re gonna fix it, let’s fix it right,” resident Kevin FitzMaurice said. “It’s not gonna get any cheaper in the future. It’s only gonna get more expensive.”
Council appeared receptive to the idea as well. “This is a wooden pier,” Councilman Tim Courtney said. “It came down three times. What does that tell us? It’s not working.”
Paying for the structure could require creativity, however. Town Administrator Micki Fellner said residents and council needs to consider whether a bond or higher taxes would be appropriate.
Councilwoman Julie Samples said she thought taking on debt for the project would be a bad idea.
“I don’t want to see our taxes go up just to rebuild it,” she said. “I like the idea of concrete, but it’s going to be a lot of money just to build it.”
But residents offered some other solutions. The idea of allowing vendors or a restaurant on the pier were floated, as well as one option modeled after another local waterside public space--the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk, which sells commemorative plaques.
“It would be a nice way to kind of tie people to the pier, and I don’t know, maybe raise a little bit of money,” FitzMaurice said.
Town officials said Surfside is still in early talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which could reimburse 75 percent of the cost if the pier is rebuilt in a manner similar to how it existed before. Additional improvements would not be eligible for the same levels of FEMA reimbursement.
Surfside will hold two more workshops on the pier in the next two months to solicit ideas from the public, one at 10 am. on April 3 and another at 10 a.m. on May 13.