Congress hears about feeding problems at local beaches, Cooper adds support

A previous beach feeding project that took place on Pleasure Island in 2019 (Port City Daily / Michael Praats)

Discussions about the lack of funds for local beach feeding projects, or reducing damage from coastal storms, took place in Congress last month. A few days later, Governor Roy Cooper posted himself among a group of state and national politicians working on a solution.

There has been a rush for replacement money in the months since the US Army Corps of Engineers excluded mentions of Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach from the organization’s 2021 federal work plan. All three seaside towns were slated for feeding events starting later this year, and without funding from the Corps, the projects – designed to protect coasts from hurricanes and other forces – would be postponed.

Previously: funding for beach food in the Wilmington area disappears at the last minute; shocked local leaders

North Carolina Congressman David Rouzer, the leading Republican on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, polled Army Corps Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon during a hearing on President Joe Biden’s budget proposal – which also did not include funding for the three beach power projects.

Rouzer told Spellmon that the lack of funding for these three projects in his district “came as a big surprise to everyone up and down the chain, at least those I spoke to.”

[Watch video of the exchange here]

Amid the fallout, the Army Corps’ Wilmington District Office hatched a plan to shift unused funds from elsewhere into New Hanover area budgets. Such a plan requires the blessing of the higher levels of the Body.

“And I understand that the Wilmington District and others have made a plan to use the remaining funds from a few other projects in North Carolina and convert them for those two projects,” Rouzer said at the hearing.

“I understand it’s on your doorstep, if it’s not already seen, and I want to make sure you’re aware of it and get your opinion here while I have you,” he said. he continued.

Spellmon offered no guarantee in response. He told Rouzer that the price of beach food for Wrightsville Beach was $ 14.3 million and the cost for Pleasure Island would be $ 24 million.

“First of all, we are working on an internal reprogramming action where we will find funds from other projects within the Corps that are no longer needed or that have come under budget,” Spellmon said.

Spellmon added that the “internal reprogramming path” would require bureaucratic approvals and scrutiny from the Biden Office of Management and Budget and Administration, as well as senior military corps.

Read more: Representative David Rouzer speaks out on unresolved beach food funding debacle

Four days after the congressional hearing, Governor Cooper sent a letter on June 28 to two senior military officials and the acting director of the OMB.

“I am writing to urge you to consider favorably all options to secure the restoration of federal equity funding for the Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach periodic renovation projects in New Hanover County, North Carolina,” Cooper wrote.

“Each of these communities has predictable funding schedules in the Corps of Engineers work plan. I know this is an element that is already being explored for possible solutions, and I ask you to take all necessary measures to restore the funding of the work plan in order to allow these three projects to continue. ” move forward in the next cycle 2021-2022. “

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