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Beach town leaders discuss $60M in coastal projects

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Army Corps of Engineers says it is going to work on $60 million worth of projects this year in and around the Cape Fear waterways.

That’s good news for many elected leaders of beach towns in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties. They say beach renourishment and dredging are critical to both the local and regional economy.

“Now our inlet is in such bad shape that we don’t even have markings,” Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden said. “The Coast Guard can’t even come in to rescue someone, because we don’t know where the channel is it’s so shallow.”

Coastal community leaders agree spending money on waterway projects is not all about continuing to have a beautiful setting in the Cape Fear. They say its about tourism dollars and the more than 10,000 jobs involved with that in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender Counties.

“It means recreational and commercial boaters need to be able to use our inlets and Intracoastal Waterway,” Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-7th District) said. “So from every angle it means economic benefit for our area as well as good environmental stewardship.”

Elected leaders from area beach towns came together Thursday for McIntyre’s 16th annual Coastal Communities Luncheon.

The Army Corps of Engineers was also there to talk about a few big projects in 2012.

“The Wilmington Harbor deepening to 42 plus two feet and the second construction project is at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach is a coastal storm damage reduction project,” Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Project Management Sam Colella said.

In 2012 the Army Corps of Engineers says it plans on doing $60 million worth of projects in and around the Cape Fear’s waterways. McIntyre says that’s good news for both the local and regional economy.

“These projects are not local pork barrel projects in the old traditional sense,” he said. “These are projects of regional and national significance.”

Leaders say this is a case of federal funds being spent on needs rather than wants.

Included in that $60 million worth of work will be several beach renourishment projects. McIntyre says for every dollar spent on renourishment his district sees a $320 return.

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