February 9, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan Steering Committee Meeting – Thurs, Feb 18 – 3 pm

The committee’s first meeting will be held on February 18 at 3 pm.  The meeting will likely be held in the Town Administration Building Conference Room, however, it may be moved back to the Town Board Meeting Room if planned flooring work is complete by February 18.

Annual Budget Planning Workshop – Fri, Feb 19 – 8:30 am

This meeting will be held in the Town Administration Building Conference Room, and will likely last most of the day.  I have attached a copy of the DRAFT meeting agenda for your review.  Please let me know if you’d like us to add any other topics for discussion, or if you believe any items should be removed.  I look forward to receiving the Board’s preliminary feedback on these items as we begin the FY 16-17 budget process.

Controlled Deer Hunt Complete

The Police Department has completed the 2016 controlled deer hunt, and removed a total of 35 deer between January 6 and January 25.  A total of 997 lbs. of deer meat was donated to the Hope Mission in Morehead City.  I have attached a summary report prepared by Chief Waters.

Town Board Meeting Room Flooring, Painting Work

The existing carpet in the Town Board Meeting Room will be removed, and the underlying concrete will be stained and finished to provide a new, attractive floor surface.  The existing walls in the northwest corner of the room will be removed to make the main meeting room larger and allow natural light into the room, and all walls and trim in the entire room will be painted.  This work will begin February 12 and may result in the room being closed until February 21.

7405 Archers Creek Court

We understand that a buyer has been identified for this property, and that a closing may occur by mid-February.  In light of this development, we have delayed the demolition to provide an opportunity for the new buyer to address the concerns with this structure.  If the sale does not occur and/or the new buyer does not take quick action, the Town will proceed with the demolition.

2016 Street Resurfacing Contract

We are currently working on a list of recommended street segments for resurfacing this spring.  We expect to solicit bids later in February and present a contract recommendation to the Board at the March 8 Board meeting.  Our goal will be to have all planned street resurfacing work complete before May 1.

Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, & 5K – Saturday, April 9

As of February 4, a total of 682 runners have registered for the 3 races.  As of February 3, 2015, there were a total of 930 runners registered, so we are a little behind last year’s pace.  However, the 2016 race is two weeks later than 2015 due to the Easter holiday, and we are also facing competition from the Rock N Roll Marathon in Raleigh the same weekend.  We still hope to match or exceed last year’s total of 1600 runners.

Regional Access Food Vendor Program

We have received applications from 5 Emerald Isle food establishments so far:  Shark’s Den, Dairy Queen, Sweet Spot, Ben & Jerry’s, and Circle Pizza.  The application deadline is February 29.

“Downtown” Lighting

We expect the new “downtown” decorative lights to be installed in the next two weeks, weather permitting.

New Wayfinding Signs

I am still reviewing price quotes for the new “wayfinding” signs discussed last fall, and hope to place the sign order in the coming weeks.  My goal is to have the new signs installed by April.

Water Tank Maintenance Work Expected to Be Done in March

The Bogue Banks Water Corporation’s water tank maintenance work has not progressed as quickly as we hoped, and Police, Fire, and EMS continue to rely on a temporary emergency communications tower located along NC 58 across from Emerald Plantation Shopping Center.  Bogue Banks Water Corporation hopes to have the water tank maintenance work complete by St. Patrick’s Festival weekend.

The temporary tower does not provide as reliable and clear emergency communications as desired, and is sometimes problematic for the Town’s Police and Fire Departments.  We are anxious to return communications antennae to the water tank, as the potential for more significant problems will increase during the spring and summer season.

Water Boggan Concerns

Town staff have received multiple concerns about the structural integrity of the water slides at the Water Boggan on Islander Drive, and County building inspectors recently visited the property.  Numerous safety and code issues were identified, and the structure has been posted as unsafe (see attached letter).  Town Planner Josh Edmondson has contacted the owner, and we will be happy to assist the owner in any way helpful to address these issues in a timely manner.

Planning Board Appointments

The terms of Planning Board members Mark Taylor, Jim Osika, and Tom Minnick all expire in March, and the Board will consider these appointments at the March 8 regular meeting.

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps

As noted previously, we expect the new flood maps (prepared by the State for FEMA) to be released to the public later this spring.  Town Planner Josh Edmondson will make a presentation to the Board and the public at the earliest meeting after the maps are released to highlight the map changes that will impact Emerald Isle property owners.  Overall, the new maps are very favorable for Emerald Isle property owners, however, we do expect some property owners to be negatively impacted, and want to offer as much information and assistance as possible to these property owners.  There will be an opportunity for formal appeals after the maps are released to the public.

New Sidewalk Stubs Complete

The Town’s contractor has completed the installation of new sidewalk stubs at the entrance to Emerald Plantation and at Mangrove Drive to provide a safer route for bicyclists and pedestrians to access the businesses in these locations.  Town staff are also considering the extension of a short sidewalk stub from the corner of Coast Guard Road / NC 58 to the gas station, perhaps in conjunction with drainage improvements in that area.

New Police Vehicles

The Police Department’s new Dodge 4 x 4 pickup truck and new Dodge Charger are expected to be placed in service in March or April after being outfitted with communications and electronics equipment.

New Beach Vehicle Ramp Gates

The new beach vehicle ramp gates have been fabricated, and should be installed by mid-February at the Ocean Drive dog-leg, Black Skimmer Drive, and The Point vehicle ramps.  I also hope to eventually add similar gates at the Doe Drive and 16th Street vehicle ramps, and also at the Western Ocean Regional Access and Emerald Isle Woods Park in the future as funds permit.  The new gates are similar to the gates installed last spring at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.

Bicycle Path Pavement Markings

I have tasked Public Works staff with repainting all of the bicycle path pavement markings in the central area of Emerald Isle between now and the end of April, and work has already begun on some of the pavement markings.  I expect this work to continue as weather permits, and should result in a fresh appearance for the bicycle path for the 2016 tourism season.

12th Street Infiltration Basin Expansion

Due to ongoing flooding issues at 12th Street / Ocean Drive, Public Works will be expanding the existing storm water infiltration basin near the beach access walkway in the coming weeks.  The existing basin will be expanded to 3x or 4x the current size, and the material excavated will be used to construct a berm on the west property boundary of the beach access easement.  We are hopeful that this improvement will reduce flooding duration in this area in the short term.  We also hope to install a small relay pump and fixed PVC line in this area to address future flooding issues.  This idea will be discussed with the Board at the February 19 budget workshop meeting.

Vendor Assignment Policy – St. Patrick’s Festival

I have attached a copy of the Vendor Assignment Policy for the St. Patrick’s Festival for your information.  As you know, the annual festival is very popular, and we routinely run out of available booth locations for non-profit groups (and also commercial vendors) each year.  Every year, several groups that we’d like to accommodate are denied a booth due to the first-come, first-served nature of the process and the limited space, and this sometimes causes hard feelings.

Deck Safety Program

The vacation rental companies continue to implement the new deck inspection program, and there is a considerable amount of deck repair and replacement work underway in Emerald Isle in preparation for the 2016 season.  Due to the complexity of dealing with multiple condominium owners associations and management companies, we have not yet had an opportunity to establish a similar program for condominium complexes.  I expect to work on this issue in the coming weeks.

Unified Development Ordinance

As noted previously, I hope to begin work on a comprehensive review and simplification of the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance in the coming months.  The current UDO can be confusing for Town staff, development professionals, real estate professionals, and the public, and my goal is to create a much more user-friendly, understandable document.

EMS Quick Response Vehicle

Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. has ordered a new 4 x 4 truck and camper shell to replace the existing 2005 Chevrolet Suburban that servers as a quick response vehicle.  Upon receipt of the new vehicle, we intend to purchase this vehicle (which has approximately 50,000 miles) for use by Town Planner Josh Edmondson.  The 2003 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck currently used by the Town Planner would then be surplused, or perhaps held as a backup vehicle.

Police Department – Monthly Statistical Report

The Police Department has revised the monthly statistics that are included in the attached Monthly Statistical Report in an effort to improve the accuracy of reported data and maintain consistency with other statistical information reported by the Police Department.  I have asked Chief Waters to review 5 yr. crime trends with the Board at the February 19 budget planning workshop meeting, and that data should match the data included in the monthly statistical report in the future.

Nies v. Emerald Isle

The NC Supreme Court has not yet made a decision on whether or not hear this case.  We expect a decision in either late February or early March.  The Nies’ attorney was recently quoted in the local media as also considering an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

As discussed previously, this case has significant consequences for all NC beach communities, as it essentially involves the public’s right to use the flat, dry-sand beach between the base of the dunes and the water.  The Nies have argued that the public trust beach area does not include the flat, dry-sand beach area, while the Town contends that NCGS 77-20 includes this area in the delineation of the public trust beach area.

Playground Damage – Blue Heron Park

An insurance claim was approved for the playground damage at Blue Heron Park (~$14,000), and we expect to replace the damaged slide later in February.

New Fall Music and Food Festival - on the Beach?

Based on input from the Town’s Economic Development Steering Committee in 2014 and ideas expressed during the 2015 campaign for Town Commissioner, we are considering the possible creation of a fall music and food festival on the beach strand in the future.

Preliminary ideas include renting a stage to be placed at the Western Ocean Regional Access near the top of the dune, facing the ocean, with the crowd enjoying the music from the beach strand.  The music festival would be held in late September, when the air and water temperatures are still very warm, in an effort to lure a large crowd to Emerald Isle for the entire weekend.  The parking lot at the Western Ocean Regional Access would be used to host various food vendors and food trucks, and public parking would be located on the NC 58 right of way.  It is expected that visitors would arrive via the beach strand and via the street, and visitors could pass freely between the beach strand and the parking lot.

Beach music is an obvious theme for the event, along with other popular genres.  Alcohol would be permitted, but would be monitored by law enforcement.  It will be necessary to determine the best mechanism to fund the musical entertainment (charge a fee for vendors to set up and/or use a beer tent area to generate sufficient funds to pay for the stage rental and music acts?  contributions from sponsors? – please note that I do not envision tax revenue funding this event).  With the proper planning (and the luck of good weather!) this could become a second signature event (along with the St. Patrick’s Festival) for Emerald Isle each fall.

I am planning to discuss this idea with the Emerald Isle Business Association in the coming weeks, and hope to secure buy-in from that group, and from other Emerald Isle businesses to take a lead role on such an event.

Promotional Video

I continue to work with Playa Graphics, an Emerald Isle graphic arts firm (Brad Styron), to produce a 3 – 5 minute promotional video about Emerald Isle that will  highlight all of the great things about our community.  The video will showcase the attractiveness of Emerald Isle to potential future permanent residents (families and retirees), second homeowners, and visitors.  The video will initially be utilized on the Town’s website, Facebook, and Twitter applications, and could potentially become a television commercial for Emerald Isle.

The Emerald Isle “App”

Rhonda Ferebee, Town Clerk, and I continue to work with Bar-Z, an app development firm, on this project.  The end product will be a smartphone “app” that can be used by our residents and visitors to learn about the Town, request Town services, report problems, identify local businesses, and more.  We hope to unveil the new app no later than May.

Emerald Isle Logo T-Shirts ON SALE Now

T-shirts with the new Town logo (including Nice Matters!) are currently on sale at the Town Administration Building.  The 100% cotton beefy-Ts are available for $15 each.