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Council contemplates plans for rebuilding of Surfside pier

FEMA granted the Town of Surfside nearly $10 million to rebuild the town's pier. It was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
FEMA granted the Town of Surfside nearly $10 million to rebuild the town's pier. It was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

The Surfside Beach Town Council is working to pick a plan for the rebuilding of the pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Friday afternoon, council gathered with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, financial advisers and architects from LS3P, where three options for the pier were presented.

The first option mirrored the existing footprint of the pier, with two buildings for the restaurant and bait shop. There is space for an optional restaurant seating on the rooftop.

The second option added a third building to the plans, and a deck off of two of the structures. There is also space for an optional restaurant seating on the rooftop.

The third option adds a second story to the three buildings presented in the second plan. On the second story, outdoor walkways connect the structures.

All three of the options include the idea of a concrete pier, meaning the pier will have a concrete structure with a wooden deck.

"Right now we're losing people to Garden City and Pawleys Island," Councilman Randle Stevens said. "We have something to sell here and we have to realize this. We have to make the right decisions now."

A timeline was not provided, but before construction on the pier can begin, FEMA must conduct an 18 month environment review that includes a seven step process for consultations with entities such as S.C. DHEC and historical preservation societies.

How much would the plans cost?

Costs for the pier center around the $9.4 million needed to construct a concrete pier. The cost also includes a 10 foot raise in the foundation to combat storm surge and flooding.

In early March the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the town nearly $9.95 million to rebuild the pier.

The first plan will cost $10.27 million, leaving $515,000 to be paid from the town.

However, each year the town brings in roughly $520,000 through the accommodations fund, hospitality fund and pier enterprise fund.

The second plan would cost $10.98 million, with the town owing just over $1.2 million. The third plan would cost $12.16 million, leaving the town to pay $2,410,000.

The first plan accounted for a five year loan from the bank, and the second and third accounted for a 10 year loan.

Where do council members stand on the options?

Council members did not make a decision during the Friday meeting, but do plan to meet Monday at 6 p.m. to further discuss the plans.

The indecision didn't stop council members from debating the best option.

"I like that idea of two one-story buildings and one two-story building," Mayor Bob Childs said. "This is going to be built to bring revenue into the own. This is going to generate a lot of revenue for this town so we have to keep that in mind."

Councilwoman Julie Samples disagreed, saying, "I am a strong proponent of option two. I do not support option three, I do not support a second story on any of the buildings on the pier. I see option two as a great option, so that's what I'll be supporting going forward."

A problem most members agreed on, however, is the height of the structure depending on the option picked.

"What we have here is one of the biggest projects this towns ever done," Councilman Ron Ott said. "We need to have a lot of meetings, we've gotta really make decisions. The financing is there, we need to see what will be best for our town visually and financially."

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