July 18, 2008

Board Weighs Widening of Beaches Via Nearby Dredging


By Ryan Hutchins

The Virginian-Pilot

Nags Head

Efforts to widen Nags Head beaches have failed over the years at the federal, county and local levels, but another idea goes on the table today.

The Board of Commissioners will meet to decide whether the town should send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing interest in a project that might provide sand through a nearby dredging initiative.

"The sand would be pumped up from Oregon Inlet and onto Nags Head beaches," said Roberta Thuman , a spokes woman for the town.

The board is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. today to discuss the possible measure.

Many beaches in South Nags Head are becoming smaller and smaller - narrow even at low tide. Some homeowners have guarded their property with walls of sandbags, but on May 1 the state began requiring that all exposed bags be removed.

The new project would proceed under a federal regulation that allows sand from federal dredging projects to be placed on public beaches.

It probably would require a cost-sharing arrangement between the town and the Corps of Engineers.

Anna Sadler , the town's mayor pro tem, said Thursday that the board was told several years ago that such a project would cost more than one involving offshore dredging. She didn't know whether that is still the case.

Additionally, she said, an engineer took samples at that time from Oregon Inlet and off the shore of the town, finding that the inlet sand was "much finer" than what's on the beach now.

But Sadler said she is still willing to listen to details about anything that could help repair the eroding shoreline. "I, for one, am interested in hearing about any project that would put sand on the beach that's compatible," she said.

It's been 16 months since voters shot down a $24 million bond measure to widen the town's beaches. Efforts to fund such a project have failed at the federal and county levels as well.

Earlier this year the town established a beach nourishment trust fund in the hope that residents would donate money to pay for the work. The town must give the money back if a project isn't initiated within six years.

Commissioner Wayne Gray voted against establishing the fund. He said Thursday that he doesn't support any project to put sand on the beach, including one that uses Oregon Inlet sand.

"I'm not really in favor of it - it's a Band-Aid fix," he said.

Ryan Hutchins, (252) 441-1627,

[email protected]

Originally published by BY RYAN HUTCHINS.

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