William ‘Buddy’ Fowler, Surf City Councilman and fellow Kiwanian was our guest speaker this past Tuesday morning. Buddy had several exciting activities and developments in Surf City to relay to our Club. He was very proud of the new Surf City Town Hall and Police Department Building that was officially dedicated and now in use for the Town. Having recently attended a Topsail Island Shoreline Protection Commission meeting in this new facility, this writer can attest to the functionality and professional architectural features of the building!
Buddy was also excited about the town’s Community Center and the programs it offers citizens. He mentioned implementation of a master plan for the new Mainland Town Park project, an approx. 52 acre natural area adjacent to the Community Center that is under consideration for walking trails that would make this area a part of the NC Mountains to Sea Trail route along with other outdoor activities. Many of the town’s park programs have been funded through generous land donations and through the efforts of Chad Merritt, Parks and Rec Director, who has been very successful in acquiring grants to support the program he leads.
Friday before Memorial Day the Town had an official ‘Laying of the Wreath’ ceremony at Soundside Park to honor veterans who have given their lives to preserve our freedom.
Buddy mentioned the new paid parking program in Surf City that will bring in new revenue. The Town had acquired several properties in town on which new parking lots were constructed to aid visitor access to the beach. The parking program is running fairly smooth, but like anything else some first time users of the smartphone app have needed help to learn how to pay and park.
The biggest beach project in Surf City’s history is about to happen according to Buddy. The Surf City/N. Topsail Beach Storm Damage Reduction Mitigation project is one step closer to becoming a reality for Surf City and its beaches. This is a US Army Corps of Engineers project that was approved in 2010 but not funded until Congress provided the Corps with $751 million dollars in Hurricane Florence relief. The Corps then made use of these funds to start ‘new construction’ of the project projected to cost $237 million dollars to construct and an additional $600 million plus dollars over 50 years to maintain through re-nourishment cycles about every 4-6 years. Once Surf City and N. Topsail Beach sign on with the Corps ‘Project Partnership Agreement,’ the first sand could be pumped on the beaches starting in December, 2021.
In closing, Buddy stated that tourism in Surf City was no longer a summer season event, but rather is now year round as visitors learn they can get away from large public places with crowds during times of a COVID pandemic and enjoy the miles of open beaches on Topsail Island. Like businesses everywhere though, Surf City business’s are struggling to find enough workers to provide the services visitors expect.