Surfside Beach Town Council looks to regulate saltwater fishing, rebuild pier

Surfside Beach Town Council wants to regulate recreational saltwater fishing within the town and rebuild the Surfside Beach Pier.

At Tuesday night's Town Council meeting, the council discussed a proposed recreational saltwater fishing ordinance.

According to the ordinance, the town wants to make sure saltwater fishermen have the correct fishing license from the state if they intend to fish in the town limits.

The ordinance would also endow lifeguards, town beach service personnel and police officers with the authority to make saltwater fishermen cease fishing at any point if their activities become detrimental to public safety.

One such circumstance might be if sharks were being attracted to a given beach area.

Under the same ordinance, Council was also looking to ensure that people don't swim within 300 feet of the Surfside Beach Pier because of the recent damages to the pier during Hurricane Matthew.

Ever since the pier was damaged in October, Council has said its not a matter of if but when they rebuild it.

On Tuesday night, Council took a formal vote to move forward with that process.

They said they now have a consultant company lined up to help with making decisions about rebuilding the pier.

"The firm is not only highly qualified and has a plethora of local experiences, especially with structures in water, they're also the FEMA consulting firm used by Horry County," said Micki Fellner, town administrator.

Hagerty Consulting out of Illinois will assist the town through the FEMA process of rebuilding the pier.

Their estimated bid for the project is $125,000. Town council said, under FEMA regulations, 75 percent of that could reimbursed. The actual price of rebuilding the pier is still up in the air.

Mayor Bob Childs said that's because they're still not sure what they want to do with it.

"Piers are very expensive, very expensive and we're a small town and so it's a burden we actually would have a hard time handling on our own," said Childs.

Childs said they'll have three public meetings over the next couple of months to hear from the community. The first one is expected to be in February. They hope to have the second in March and final one in April.

"I had about five or six people come and tell me we need this or I got a better way to do it or we need it longer, we need it wider, we need some activities on the pier," said Childs. "Everybody seems to have their own take on what we should do with the pier."

The town administrator discussed a very preliminary, best-case scenario for the rebuilding timeline.

She said they hope in June, FEMA agrees with their hired consultant's plans. Then they would let businesses finish out summer season, at the same time bidding out the project for construction.

She said they would hope to start actual construction on the pier in October with a completion date of May.

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