Surfside Beach finds an engineer for its new pier

Matt Silfer for The Sun News.

Surfside Beach is moving forward with the design of its new pier and has selected Collins Engineers Inc., of Charleston, to aid in the process.

Collins was not the cheapest applicant for the job, but close to the lowest, with significant experience doing engineering work on structures in water, Town Administrator Micki Fellner said.

“They’re very close to the low bidder, but they’re a little higher on some things,” Fellner told The Sun News.

Applicants did not enter formal bids as the town sought contractors, she said, but provided rates for their basic services. The other three applicants were Palmetto Architecture of Myrtle Beach, Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson of Mount Pleasant and Chao and Associates of Columbia.

Town Council unanimously supported the recommendation to work with Collins in a meeting Tuesday.

Town staff will next meet with the engineers to discuss where the design may go and what the cost will be, Fellner said. She declined to identify a projected cost for Collins’ services, because the town has not determined the scope of the pier rebuild.

The pier could be wood or a more expensive composite material; it may be a simple walkway or include a restaurant at its ending point.

“Almost everyone is saying ‘yeah, we want to rebuild the pier and we want it bigger and better,’ but when they find out what the cost associated with it is, sometimes they don’t want a bigger and better pier,” Fellner said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to aid in the costs of the pier reconstruction. Official news on a FEMA reimbursement would come in the next four to eight weeks, Fellner said.

“We are going to get funding, and it’s going to be sizeable,” she said.

FEMA may reimburse some construction and engineering costs up to 75 percent.

The Surfside Pier was partially destroyed during Hurricane Matthew in October. The storm also ripped off part of the Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach.

Since then, the town has grappled with how to replace its signature attraction, which will remain closed for at least the remainder of 2017.

Surfside will hold its last of three public hearings at 10 a.m. on Saturday to solicit public comment on the pier.

After the town is able to work with Collins on design concepts and financing options, it will hold at least two more public meetings, Fellner said.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ