Pawleys Island leaders hope to get beach renourishment started as soon as possible

Pawleys Island leaders hope to get beach renourishment started as soon as possible

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WMBF) - Town leaders in Pawleys Island said they’re in desperate need of beach renourishment, but they’re still not sure who will perform the project.

Mayor James Braswell said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was going to do the project, but town leaders were apprehensive because the corps required a validation study first, which would take three to four months.

Town leaders didn’t want to wait that long, so they started looking into hiring an outside firm who could do the beach renourishment quicker and at a much lower cost.

Braswell said the town was about to hire the firm when they heard from the corps of engineers that the validation study was no longer required. Braswell and town leaders decided they wanted the corps of engineers to be behind the beach renourishment project.

However, Braswell said shortly after they were told the validation study wasn’t required, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that had changed and that they needed to do a validation study.

Braswell said he’s concerned about the time that’s slipping by as the corps goes back and forth on whether the validation study is required.

“We need to get sand on that beach to protect our residents and homeowners here,” Braswell said. “Right now, we don’t really feel that warm and fuzzy about the corps of engineers.”

People who own property in Pawleys Island said the need for sand on the beach is noticeable.

“Right now the beach needs to be renourished,” Marguerite Willis said.

Willis ran for South Carolina governor in 2018. She owns a home on the beach in Pawleys Island.

“In the high tide, particularly in the king tide, the water washes across the road here and under our house,” she said.

She’s not the only homeowner who notices the need for sand. Betsy Altman with Pawleys Island Realty said several homes, mostly on the south end of the island, are seeing the effects too.

Altman, along with many others in the town, are hoping beach renourishment ends up in Pawleys Island, one way or another.

“Hopefully, it’ll just give those houses a lot more protection than they have now,” Altman said. “There’s just nothing to protect the houses from a storm right now.”

Town leaders are still faced with the decision on whether to use the outside firm or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Braswell said there are pros and cons to each. The outside firm would cost around $12 million, whereas the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project would cost around $17 million. The outside firm would also be able to finish quicker. The corps, on the other hand, would be able to put much more sand on the beach.

Braswell said he and town council plan to make a decision on what to do in September at their meeting.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not responded to a request for comment.

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