January 10, 2017

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:       Resolution Authorizing Water Resources Development Grant Application – Archers Creek West Stream Restoration - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

he Board of Commissioners is asked to approve the attached resolution formally authorizing a grant application to the NC Water Resources Development grant program for stream restoration activities in the western segment of Archers Creek.  The attached resolution authorizes a $25,000 grant application, to be matched with $25,000 from the Town to provide a total of $50,000 for the proposed project.  The Board should note that the required Town match would only include a $12,500 contribution from the Town, with $12,500 provided by property owners and homeowners associations along this segment of Archers Creek.

Archers Creek runs for more than 2.2 miles through the middle of Emerald Isle, parallel to NC 58 and Bogue Sound.  The creek is actually two separate segments that are not connected – they are separated by a “divide” at Old Ferry Road, with the western segment flowing west to Forest Hills mobile home park where it empties into Bogue Sound, and the eastern segment flowing east beyond Lee Avenue where it empties into the marsh and ultimately Bogue Sound.  The proposed grant application pertains only to the Archers Creek West segment, which is approximately 1.1 miles long and flows through the Woodpecker Lane mobile home park, Emerald Plantation, Emerald Landing, and Forest Hills mobile home park.

Residents and property owners in this area have expressed concerns about water quality and aesthetics in this segment of Archers Creek, and reached out to Town and State officials during summer 2016 to identify potential improvements.  The NC Water Resources Development Grant Program, administered by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, provides funding for stream restoration and aquatic weed control efforts, and the proposed project appears to align well with the goals of the grant program.  (The Board should note that this same grant program has also provided significant dredging and beach nourishment funding for Emerald Isle in the past, including a $3.8 million grant for the Bogue Inlet channel realignment project in 2005.)  If the requested grant funding is approved, these funds would be used to retain a local contractor to complete physical “cleanup” work in the creek, including the removal of dead vegetation, the removal of any trash and debris, the removal of any live vegetation within the creek that is obstructing water flow, trimming and thinning of any excessive vegetation hanging over the banks of the creek, limited excavation of any accumulated sediment, and the removal of any thicker aquatic weeks obstructing water flow.  This work would be completed along the entire 1.1 mile segment, however, the bulk of vegetation removal will likely occur in the area behind the Woodpecker Lane mobile home park.  Live vegetation removal will be especially selective through Emerald Landing subdivision, as the homeowners association (which supports the overall effort) has indicated that they would like to preserve a thick vegetative buffer along the creek.  I envision that work in Emerald Landing will likely be limited to dead vegetation removal, selective pruning, and perhaps minor sediment removal activities. 

This work is intended to allow for better water flow through the entire creek, which should also reduce the potential for significant aquatic weed growth.  Following completion of the physical “cleanup” work, the Town will solicit assistance from State personnel to perform biological and/or chemical treatment of the creek to further enhance water quality and aesthetic quality.  If grant funds are awarded and this approach is successful, I envision the Town seeking additional grant funds in the future to complete similar work in the Archers Creek East segment.    

The Board should note that the grant application was due to the State of North Carolina by December 31, 2016, and the attached grant application package includes a Board resolution dated for January 10, 2017.  In the interest of meeting this grant deadline and avoiding the need for a special Board meeting around the holidays, the grant application package was submitted and the Board is now asked to approve the required resolution.  If the Board does not support the grant application and does not approve the resolution, the grant application will simply be rescinded as soon as possible.

I look forward to discussing the proposed grant application with the Board of Commissioners at the January 10 meeting, and recommend approval of the attached resolution.  Dave Chenoweth, President of the Emerald Plantation Homeowners Association, has been the driving force behind this effort, and will also attend the Board meeting and will be available to answer any questions.