Amid internal lawsuit and rescinded bid, Surfside Beach Town Council restarts new pier bidding

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Town leaders are trying to move the multimillion dollar new pier plans forward, amid a revoked bid award and a lawsuit.

Hurricane Isaias didn’t do any more damage to the Surfside fishing pier. It was already destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

As the pier stands roped off and awaiting a replacement, on-shore, Surfside’s town council is in an internal legal battle around who will build the first concrete pier in South Carolina.

“Let’s stop it and get this project done,” said council member Bruce Dietrich, who’s the only member not on either side of the suit. “There’s no reason to wait 30 days. Let’s get it done.”

Orion Marine Construction was awarded the construction bid on July 1 for $14,849,352. Mayor Bob Hellyer and two council members (Michael Drake and Cindy Keating) are suing three other council members (Paul Holder, David Pellegrino and Debbie Scoles) and the town government.

The suit claims that since the July 1 meeting didn’t have a bid vote on the agenda, it was given out illegally. The bid award to Orion was rescinded last week.

On Tuesday night, council was back again to discuss the project’s finances, rebidding process and how each proposal is rated.

“The ratings should not change considerably,” Keating said. “The value calculation may change if they choose to change their price.”

This comes as town administrator Dennis Pieper announced on Friday that he’ll retire on Sept. 7. Council voted unanimously to start advertising the town administrator job on Wednesday. They also privately discussed the process of finding an interim administrator.

Pieper says Surfside is looking for an 18-month extension to keep using its $10 million FEMA grant, which was given to the town after Matthew.

“Time is of the essence,” he said. “I wasn’t here the first two years that this project dragged along. You didn’t get your environmental assessment done. We’ve done all that. We made a lot of progress.”

Council voted 4-3 to advertise the bids again for just 10 days, starting on Thursday. Council 4-3 against extending that timeframe to 30 days.

Keating says Surfside should consider cutting some costs.

“I think it’s in the best interest of the town to actually start looking at some of things as far as are they nice-to-haves or are they needs?” she asked.

Once construction begins, Mayor Hellyer has said the new pier should be finished in about 18 months.

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