A walker leaves footprints along a wide “useable” beach at 13th Avenue in Southern Shores on Jan. 9 around 3 p.m.

Jan. 21 workshop speaker Ken Willson of APTIM Coastal Planning and Engineering of N.C., has submitted a report to the Town detailing his analysis of what he believes constitutes “sufficient useable beach” on the 3.7-mile-long Southern Shores coastline. Doug and Andrew Carter of DEC Associates in Charlotte, however, have not filed any documents in advance of their presentation next Tuesday about financial planning for possible beach nourishment in Southern Shores.

The Town Council’s Jan. 21 workshop session will convene at 9 a.m. in the Pitts Center. According to the agenda, the first item of business will be the search and hiring process for the next town manager. Mr. Willson and the Carters will speak after the conclusion of that business, after which a public forum on a “potential” beach nourishment project in town will be held.

You may access the agenda here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Agendas_2020-01-21.pdf.

The Town has posted Mr. Willson’s latest report, along with two previous reports filed by APTIM, in the workshop meeting packet.

According to the agenda, the Carters will be showing a power-point presentation, just as they did at the Town Council’s Feb. 26, 2019 special planning meeting, when the issue of financing beach nourishment first arose publicly.

You may access the Jan. 21 meeting packet here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Meeting-Packet_2020-01-21.pdf.

APTIM’s report about “useable” beaches in Southern Shores, which was submitted Jan. 14, is directly accessible here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Southern-Shores-Addendum-A-DRAFT-01142020.pdf

The meeting packet also contains voluminous materials from the three highly recommended, experienced, and qualified search firms that have applied to assist the Town with its search for the next town manager. Southern Shores has been without a permanent, full-time town manager since mid-August 2019, when Peter Rascoe went on two weeks’ leave before his Sept. 1, 2019 retirement.

See the town manager search packet here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Manager-Search-Firm-Packet.pdf

One of the search firms, The Mercer Group—which is headquartered in Georgia and has an office in Raleigh—assisted the Manteo Board of Commissioners with its recent successful search to find a successor to longtime City Manager Kermit Skinner. (See pp. 63-66 of the town manager meeting-packet materials.)

As The Beacon reported 12/11/19, after learning of further delay by the Town Council last December in selecting a search firm: “Manteo underwent a rigorous search process to hire its current manager earlier this year, after 30-year Town Manager Kermit Skinner retired. Mayor Bobby Owens would likely be pleased to share his wisdom with the Town Council.”

The first reference listed on the application that The Mercer Group submitted to Town Human Resources Director Bonnie Swain last November is, in fact, Mayor Owens.

Despite having ample information on-hand from each of the three consultants, the Town Council decided to hear from Hartwell Wright, a human resources consultant with the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM), before choosing a consultant. He will speak at the Jan. 21 workshop.

As Mayor Tom Bennett explained at the Town Council’s regular December meeting, Mr. Wright will inform the elected officials “what he recommends we look for in a manager based on his history and experience.”

The Mercer Group lists in its application about 60 executive searches that it has performed for government clients, most of them to fill vacancies for city, town, or county manager—and that’s just in North Carolina. Its experts have managed dozens more searches nationwide.

We wonder how Mr. Wright’s track record compares with The Mercer Group’s record or with the other two applicants’.

The Mercer Group’s fee would be $17,500, which is comparable to what Developmental Associates, LLC, of Chapel Hill, and N-Focus of Kannapolis would charge.


The Beacon will examine the latest APTIM report in more detail in a blog post over the weekend. It addresses adding sand to a 19,712-foot-long oceanfront, an increase of about 4,000 feet over previous recommendations for nourishment. It also recalculates project costs, which have previously been estimated at $14 to $16 million, depending on how much sand is added to the beaches.

We have reported about beach nourishment in Southern Shores on the following dates: 2/28/19, 3/31/19, 4/3/19, and 9/17/19.

In our 2/28/19 report about last February’s Town Council planning session, we reported: “[T]he father-son financial-adviser team of Doug and Andrew Carter, of DEC Associates in Charlotte, explained to the Town Council the various complicated methods available for beach-nourishment funding.

“Popular among them are special obligation bonds, which permit a town to set up ‘municipal service districts’ and to levy different tax rates within the MSDs, Andrew Carter explained, so that, for example, people who own oceanfront property would pay more than other property owners do for the sand fill/replenishment.

“Once a beach town embarks upon a nourishment plan, said Mr. Carter, whose firm specializes in N.C. shoreline protection financial planning, it commits to ‘long-term planning’ for future periodic maintenance and beach operating costs.

“He echoed Mr. Willson’s earlier assertion that beach nourishment is ‘an exercise in adaptive management. . . . It is never seen as a one-time event.’

“The Carters said their fees would be $35-$40,000 for developing a financial plan and setting up a ‘beach fund’ for the earmarked funds; and $30,000 for working on finding the financing, which is typically for five years.”

The Town Council voted 3-2 on Oct. 1, 2019 to hire and pay $35,000 now to DEC Associates to ensure, as the Mayor said, that a financial consultant would be on board in the event the Town were to go forward with a beach nourishment project. Former Councilmen Gary McDonald and Fred Newberry dissented.

All of the Dare County beach towns that have done beach nourishment—Duck, Southern Shores (for the Pelican Watch beaches), Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head—have used DEC Associates.

The Beacon is eager to see how the appropriated $35,000, which came from the Town’s unassigned fund balance, has been spent so far.

The following is the power-point presentation given by the Carters on Feb. 26, 2019 at the Council’s special planning meeting:


Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/17/20

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s