by Sam Spence
The newly-adopted state budget passed in a special session of the state legislature last week includes $1 million to go toward renourishment of Folly Beach. The newly-approved funds, with $2 million from the City of Folly Beach, caps off the $3 million portion of the $25 million project not covered by the feds.
State Rep. Peter McCoy, who represents Folly Beach, said he was pleased that he and his House colleagues "were able to fight for and keep money for Folly in the budget when others were fighting against it." McCoy previously said he was told by House leadership that including the funds in the project was one of the "top three priorities" going into conference committee negotiation sessions held last week in Columbia.
After a late-night deal on the $22 billion spending plan was reached in by conference committee members and passed by the Senate without incident, the proposal passed the House by just one vote. In addition to the money for Folly, McCoy said he's glad funding was included to repair 11 major roads and bridges in the Charleston area, which he said he thought "need a lot of attention. In all, the state is borrowing $500 million to go toward an estimated $29 billion needed to fully repair the state's aging infrastructure system. Also included in the budget is more money for schools, law enforcement, and more than $20 million in continued funding in response to last fall's Department of Revenue hacking.
Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to issue line-item vetoes by tomorrow night, and lawmakers will return to Columbia on Wednesday for any attempts to override.
The $25 million Folly Beach renourishment plan comes on the heels of the $3.46 million project to repair Folly Beach County Park at the south end of Folly Island in time for a July 3 grand reopening. In all, 415,000 cubic yards of sand were pumped from the Folly River to fill in the beach and park facilities, which was leveled by Hurricane Irene in 2011. "Visitors will find a much larger expanse of beach than normal until some dunes develop and vegetation starts to grow," said Dr. Tim Kana, president of Coastal Science & Engineering, which handled design of the beach restoration project. The project also includes a mostly-buried 745-foot terminal groin designed to hold sand in place and company officials say rebuilt beach and dunes are ideal for sea turtle nesting and shorebird habitat, noting that one turtle has already nested on the new beach.
The park project is not associated with the federal work planned for the rest of the island, which will likely be handled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but as part of the permitting process, county officials had to prove that the park project would not adversely impact the federal renourishment.