'We have to make tough decisions:' Replacing damaged pier a priority for Surfside Beach mayor in 2018

'We have to make tough decisions:' Replacing damaged pier a priority for Surfside Beach mayor in 2018
Surfside Beach Pier. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Surfside Beach Pier. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Enhancing Third Avenue South and replacing the town's damaged pier are just a few of the resolutions on Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs's list for 2018.

Securing funding to replace Surfside Beach Pier, which was damaged in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew, is an obstacle the town's leaders are still trying to overcome.

"I mean, this last year has been a daily project trying to get answers and trying to get answers from the federal government on what kind of reimbursements we can get," Childs said. "So that's been the big one. (Of) course you always have smaller projects, but nothing really compares to that."

One of the smaller projects on the table is to mirror Third Avenue South to Surfside Drive. Childs said the Surfside Beach Town Council has approved funding to widen the sidewalks, put in landscaping and lamp posts, and add more parking.

He said the project will go from Poplar Drive to U.S. 17 Business.

As far as the town's finances, Childs gave a positive assessment.

"The town, I might add, is in good financial shape. It really is. There isn't going to be any tax increase in the future that I can see, which I'm sure many people in town is grateful for that," he said.

The new Surfside Beach Pier, however, is a multi-million dollar project that remains at the top of everyone's mind.

"We're still working with FEMA. We haven't gotten a real firm response from FEMA on some of our questions, like build it with concrete or wood," Childs said. "We can't wait forever for that. We have to make tough decisions; we may go back to a wood pier. I'm just not sure at this point. The concrete piling pier is supposed to have a life expectancy of 50 years, whereas a wood one is maybe good for 20 years before maintenance, so there's a significant difference."

Along with rebuilding the pier, town council is expected to move forward with a new entertainment district surrounding it.

Childs said it is around six acres and is aimed at helping businesses thrive, while also bringing in new ones.

"It will give a boost to the Surfside economy," he said. "It will give more flexibility to the restaurants down in that area and we really want to create a walking amusement place to keep our tourists in town and not have them leave for supper or lunch."

Childs expects a decision on how to move forward with the pier will be made at the first town council meeting in January. He said, typically, construction will last for at least one year.

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