Recovery funding helps provide new Surf City town hall

The old Surf City Town Hall that was condemned after Hurricane Florence.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 10:22am

Surf City is getting a new town hall with the help of more than $500,000 from North Carolina and the FEMA Public Assistance Program.


The town straddles the Pender/Onslow county line, and its town hall was less than three blocks from the beach and a little more than a mile from the harbor. When Hurricane Florence arrived, flooding and wind-driven rain inundated the building, which had served as Surf City’s town hall since 1984. Following its condemnation, town officials were left without a home and have operated out of the town’s recreation center on the mainland, holding council meetings in the gym.  Water damage affected almost all of the town hall, destroying electric and HVAC systems and leaving behind mold, water stains and ruined carpet.


The town worked with recovery staff from the state and FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to find a solution through FEMA’s Alternate Procedures for Permanent Work pilot program. The program is designed to simplify reimbursements and reduce administrative costs, while providing the applicant more flexibility in using funds to meet recovery needs and improving long-term resiliency and future preparedness. Program projects normally involve extremely large facilities such as a hospital, making the Surf City town hall a unique participant.


The project is funded with $1.6 million in public assistance and insurance funds allocated for the old town hall and another $570,000 allocated for a town owned building known as the Ward Building. The town purchased the Ward Building, built around 1970, when construction of the new Topsail Island Bridge began.  Half of the building served as a field office for contractors during bridge construction. The other half housed Ecological Marine Adventures. Due to significant roof damage, the building was deemed a safety hazard.


The state share for this project is more than $428,000 and the federal share is over $1.2 million.


The Golden Leaf Foundation also provided $1.6 million in funding and insurance funded more than $159,000 for the old town hall and over $18,000 for the Ward Building.


This combined funding will provide a new town hall for Surf City that is located on the mainland, not on the barrier island. The building will be located on 2.9 acres donated to the town by the Sullivan family, near the intersection of NC Highway 210 and NC Highway 50 in Surf City.


“We hope that this will bring an additional sense of community to our residents,” said Kyle Breuer, Surf City Town Manager.


The new facility includes a training room and kitchen facilities along with town offices and will include an emergency operations center and a home for the Surf City Police Department. Breuer says the council chambers will serve as the Emergency Operations Center.


“We’ve included several resiliency measures in the design of the new structure,” Breuer said. “First and most obvious is its location off the barrier island, which should help with communications and response during and after a storm event.” The building’s roof design exceeds the current wind load for the area of 126 mph, and storm water measures that can withstand a 100-year event.


Demolishing the old town hall and Ward Building will allow the town to use those properties as parking lots to serve beach goers.

Brian R. Haines