SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s official! Surfside Beach Town Council announced that a groundbreaking will take place for the long-waited pier construction project.
Leaders will break ground on Monday, Nov. 30.
Councilmembers confirmed the project is on schedule to begin demolition, after a whirlwind of barriers that slowed down the construction project earlier this year.
“We’ve come a lot way to get to where we are today,” said Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Hellyer. ”We’ve finally got our contract done, everything’s ready, we’ve gotten our pre-construction done, we’ve got construction schedule done and we’re ready to roll.”
The Surfside Beach Pier was severely damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the road to getting the pier fixed has been bumpy to say the least.
In July, the town council awarded the pier bid to Orion/FBi. That decision though caused some contention.
Hellyer and two councilmembers filed a lawsuit against their fellow councilmembers, claiming the vote was illegal. The original bid was later rescinded and leaders reopened the search, later awarding the project to Consensus Construction.
Hellyer said the groundbreaking ceremony is about celebrating how much progress has already been made, toward getting the pier fixed while overcoming numerous obstacles.
“Everyone in this town has been waiting for us to start construction on the new pier,” Hellyer said. “What I would like to do is have a ceremony in the very beginning on November 30. We would have a groundbreaking ceremony that would go for about an hour. That’s the purpose of it and to celebrate our getting moving on this.”
As of now, councilmembers have not confirmed what time that groundbreaking ceremony will take place. Hellyer believes it will take place around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Monday.
“I’m sure it will be in the pier parking lot,” Hellyer said.
The mayor said town leaders will confirm a time for the groundbreaking on the town website.
Hellyer said council is looking into what to do with the remaining pier pieces, once the demolition process is completed.
He said the town has eight acres of land where the pier pieces will be taken.
“I’m not exactly sure the best way we should do it,” Hellyer said. “I’ve seen some people’s suggestions where some residents can come get a piece of the pier. I think we should all discuss it and figure out what we’re going to do.”
During the meeting, councilmembers briefly discussed the bidding procedures and nepotism concerns.
Councilmember Paul Holder said Chapter 2 ordinances need to be reexamined, specifically Sec-209 bidding procedures.
“I have a concern that our ordinances are outdated and this is one,” Holder said.
Holder said the town needs to update the ordinance to allow more media agencies to advertise the bids.
Councilmember Cynthia Keating then suggested that town leaders reconsider holding a public workshop to address the ordinance concerns. The town administrator is working to coordinate and present a possible date and time for that workshop, during the council’s December meeting,
Shortly after, Councilmember Debbie Scoles said she wants the council to relook at the ‘Chapter: Division 5, Employees, Nepotism’ ordinance. Scoles expressed concerns about family members working on some projects with town councilmembers, which she views as a conflict that needs to be addressed. Scoles said she would prefer to discuss specific examples in greater detail during the workshop.
Councilmembers agreed to discuss all these issues during the upcoming workshop.