CAROLINA BEACH — It’s been almost two years since the ill-fated Carolina Beach lake dredging project began and then halted only one-third of the way through. The town’s residents want to know: will the project ever be completed?
Initially launched to help deal with stormwater, the lake dredging project was pretty straightforward: a contractor would remove soil from the lake deepening the basin increasing its water capacity.
But the town ran into problems when it dumped the spoils on federal government property without permission.
The project was halted in September of 2017 while the town figured out the best way to proceed — now, in 2019, the project is still in limbo.
During his latest ‘town hall’ style public meeting, Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson addressed the lake dredging issue and hinted at the possibility of reallocating remaining funds for different projects.
As of now, the project has removed about 30,000 to 35,000 cubic yards of material from the lake with about 50,000 cubic yards remaining to be complete. There is about $1.3 million left over from the loan to complete the project, Benson said.
But is the lake dredging project the best use of the remaining money?
“We have the ability to use that money [for] other like projects, in other words, the manager’s top five [projects] and issues with Canal [drive]. And that is something that I am going to be asking within the week that the town manager take a closer look at,” Benson said.
Instead of completing the full 50,000-cubic-yard dredge, Benson said it is possible to complete only a portion of the lake project and utilize the funds elsewhere.
This is not the first time talks of cutting their losses and walking away from the lake dredging project has come up.
In 2018 then-Town Manager Michael Cramer suggested the town move on from the project and not spend any more money on it — Town Council, however, decided it would be best to move forward with what they started.
Benson said that things have improved with the town’s ability to remove water from the lake thanks to new pumps that are three or four times more efficient than previous pumps.
“The ability for the pumps to get the water out of the lake and out to Henniker’s Ditch and eventually into the river is that much more efficient,” Benson said.
If something like what Benson is suggesting was approved the town would dredge a portion of the lake (the eastern portion where algae has become an issue), and only spend part of the remaining funds — how much that would cost though is unknown.
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One of the other items Benson said needs to be addressed is drainage on North Lake Park Boulevard near the new Publix.
At the end of the day, the town council will have to vote on what to do with the money from the lake dredging project before anything happens and so far, no agenda has listed the agenda but it will likely be an upcoming item of discussion.
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