CAROLINA BEACH — It’s fair to say the relationship between the Town of Carolina Beach and the federal government has been strained over the past several years thanks to several issues that occurred on land owned by Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU).
One of the biggest and more expensive issues the town has faced, the now infamous lake dredging project, could have been avoided but the town ran afoul of MOTSU. However, the town is starting to mend its rocky relationships with the military, according to Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson.
On Tuesday, Benson and Councilman JoDan Garza held an informal ‘town hall’ style meeting to address questions and concerns of residents.
“It’s strong [the town’s relationship with Sunny Point], it’s probably the strongest it has been in many years. In fact, over the last six or seven weeks, I’ve been having discussions with the new commander Colonel Heather Carlisle and one of the things I had asked her was, without really expecting anything out of it was ‘what is the likelihood that Sunny Point would approve us putting the lake dredging spoils on their property’ … Just last week she said she had gone back to her team and said they fully support us putting the lake dredge spoils on our leased property,” Benson said.
The news comes after the town faced backlash from residents near a proposed dump site for the spoils in New Hanover County.
Benson said the Army had no specific requests from the town if they were to allow the placement of the dredging spoils — but the past shows that minor missteps when dealing with MOSTU can become costly mistakes.
When the town first started the lake dredging project it had been given permission to place the spoils on MOTSU property the town was leasing. The permit gave the town permission to fill in an old equalization basin (an area used to control water flow) with the spoils. However, the town decided it wanted to utilize that basin and put the spoils on a different part of the property.
This did not sit well with MOTSU and the lake dredging came to a grinding halt. It has been delayed now for more than a year while the town has searched for solutions.
A new lease?
The town currently holds a lease with MOTSU for the property in question; historically, the town has always received a year-to-year contract, but Benson said he hopes to change that.
“While we’re going through the joint land-use study which is ongoing right now. We will set out the framework for a lease to last as long as 10 years. Part of that will involve our desire for a 3 million-gallon capacity water tank,” Benson said.
Installing a new water tower in town has been a priority for some time now, but negotiations with the church to obtain property for construction turned sour in 2018.
The property where the town wanted to place the water tower was appraised for less than $10,000 but the church was asking for more than $100,000 for the property.
Infrastructure, in general, is one of the permitted uses for Department of Defense leased land, Benson said.
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.P@Localvoicemedia.com