CAROLINA BEACH — It didn’t take long after a formal announcement by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) of its intention to remove all navigational buoys from the Carolina Beach Inlet for New Hanover County to get involved — but only after facing harsh criticism from the Carolina Beach Inlet Association.
On Thursday the Carolina Beach Inlet Association sent an email notifying mariners of the scheduled closure of the inlet, and the group was not one to mince words with where the blame should lie.
“For years, the CBIA has existed for the sole purpose of educating and informing the general public, community leaders, both local and state politicians, with a double emphasis on our New Hanover County Commissioners, of the benefit as well as the necessity of allocating appropriate funds to keep the inlet open. What we stood to lose as an island, town and how the county would be affected should we lose the inlet, due to their minimal efforts and contributions. They refused to allocate the funds needed, even though the state is willing to match every dollar 2 to 1 the county contributes – it’s that important,” Carlton Brown, corporate secretary of the CBIA wrote.
Now, it seems that the directness with the county has paid off for the group. On Friday afternoon, just hours after the announcement by the USCG, New Hanover County announced it would begin a dredging project starting in April.
According to a New Hanover County press release, “The U.S. Coast Guard had expressed a concern that its vessel used to move buoys could not access and relocate the buoys, which aid navigation, until the inlet was dredged. New Hanover County staff are working with the Corps of Engineers to coordinate a schedule for the dredging project and anticipate it will commence by mid-April. Following the project, the U.S. Coast Guard’s vessels will be able to move buoys to provide boaters safe guides through the inlet. The schedule should allay concerns that the Coast Guard would not provide navigational aids for the inlet.”
The county claims between its funding and partners from around the state there is more than $1 million in funding available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coffers.