February 14, 2017

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

26th Annual St. Patrick’s Festival – Saturday, March 11

Parks and Recreation staff are working hard on the 2017 festival, which will be held on Saturday, March 11 at Emerald Plantation Shopping Center.  Weather cooperating, we expect another big crowd in Emerald Isle that weekend. 

Children’s amusement rides will again be offered on Friday night before the festival, from 5 pm  - 10 pm with a $15 ticket price for unlimited rides, and this early opportunity was popular with locals in 2016.  No dogs or handguns (open carry or concealed carry) are permitted at the festival.  Baby strollers are permitted.

Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K Races – Saturday, March 25

The Race Committee is hard at work on the 2017 races, which will be held on Saturday, March 25 at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  The Committee hopes to match or exceed the $62,000 profit generated by the 2016 races.  The Crystal Coast Autism Center is this year’s charity, with 50% of race profit going to this agency and 50% toward the Town’s bicycle path network.  As of February 10, a total of 473 runners have registered for the races.

Planning Board Appointments

The terms of Planning Board members Ryan Ayre, Steve LeRoy, Paul Schwartz, and Ken Sullivan all expire in March, and new appointments will be included on the Board’s March 14 meeting agenda.

Potential Golf Cart Ordinance Change – Allow on Coast Guard Road Between Deer Horn Drive and NC 58 / Crew Drive?

I had originally planned to include ordinance amendments on the February 14 meeting agenda for the Board to consider that would  a) reduce the speed limit on Coast Guard Road between Deer Horn Drive and NC 58 / Crew Drive from 35 mph to 25 mph, and  b) allow golf carts in the Town’s program to travel on this segment.  This change would allow golf carts to cross NC 58 at the traffic signal at the Coast Guard Road intersection (which golf cart operators believe is safer than crossing at non-signalized intersections at Islander Drive and Mallard Drive) and would provide a golf cart connection for residents in the Cape Emerald, Ocean Oaks, Sea Dunes, Deer Horn Dunes, and Osprey Ridge neighborhoods to access the middle of Emerald Isle. 

Concerns have been expressed about the potential dangerous nature of the NC 58 / Coast Guard Road intersection with vehicles travelling at high speed from the bridge area and the potential for a serious accident with a golf cart if a vehicle runs the red light (i.e., a golf cart does not provide the protection that a typical motor vehicle would provide in an accident).  On the other hand, bicyclists and pedestrians are permitted to cross at that intersection, and are perhaps more vulnerable than a golf cart.  Additionally, there is concern that the allowance of golf carts in this ¼ mile segment of Coast Guard Road will cause confusion and result in more golf carts operating illegally on the remainder of Coast Guard Road (that would remain a 35 mph speed zone).  On the other hand, this change would benefit the residents in the nearby subdivisions, allowing them to access Emerald Plantation and other areas of Emerald Isle, which can not legally occur under the current ordinance.

I intend to study this issue further in the coming weeks with appropriate Town staff, and may or may not present an ordinance amendment for Board consideration at an upcoming meeting.  Please let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Emerald Isle EMS

Mayor Barber, Commissioner Finch, and I recently met with the membership of Emerald Isle EMS to discuss the potential transition of EMS to a Town department within the next year.  As you know, this transition has been discussed at various times in the past decade+, and with the continued growth in staffing (all shifts are now covered with paid staff; additional paid crews on busy weekends) and budget (a total of $560,000 for FY 16-17), it is prudent to consider this change. 

The Joint EMS Committee will meet again on February 23 to continue this discussion.  If a transition is pursued, I would envision it occurring sometime next winter.  If a transition is not pursued, it will be necessary to renegotiate the Town’s contract with Emerald Isle EMS, Inc., which expires on June 30, 2017.

Publix Roundabout Design – Mallard Drive / NC 58 Intersection

Representatives from Publix continue to work on the detailed design of the new building and the planned traffic improvements.  I have attached a copy of the design of the planned new roundabout at the Mallard Drive / NC 58 intersection for your review.  I am pleased with the design, but please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

We expect building permits for the new Publix to be issued in the next couple of months, and that they will break ground soon thereafter.  Their goal is to open the new store in spring 2018.  The construction of the new roundabout will not occur until next winter, and we will also be working to minimize impacts associated with the reconstruction of Crew Drive and Mallard Drive.

CVS Entrance Re-definition / Old Ferry Road Sidewalk

As discussed at the Board’s budget planning workshop on January 26, we will proceed with the construction of a new “island” and sidewalk along Mangrove Drive in the coming weeks.  The new “island” will include curb and gutter, and will better delineate traffic flow into and out of CVS’ parking lot.  All work will occur in the Mangrove Drive right of way, and should not negatively impact CVS in any way.  A new sidewalk will be installed across the length of the island, with small grassy areas also included.  A graphic indicating the proposed improvements is attached.

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival Funding Request

Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, and I continue to investigate potential national recording artists to perform at an outdoor ticketed concert in Emerald Isle, most likely at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area.  We are currently reviewing options, and, if Tourism Development Authority (TDA) funding is ultimately awarded, the ticketed concert would be held on Friday night, September 29, the day prior to the free beach music concert on the beach at the Western Ocean Regional Access on Saturday, September 30.  We expect to finalize our plans in the next two weeks and submit a formal funding request to the TDA before the end of February. 

Fire Department Personnel Grant

We recently submitted this grant application, and expect that grant awards will be announced later this summer or fall.  The Town’s grant application requested Federal funding for 3 new firefighter positions that would be housed at Fire Station 1, resulting in an increase from 2 to 3 firefighters per shift at that station.  Sufficient funds for the required local match (approximately $41,000) will be included in the FY 17-18 Recommended Budget. 

Clean Water Management Trust Fund Grant Application

I have submitted a grant application to the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) for $545,000 to fund a portion of the estimated cost to purchase the 29.7 acre tract of land located along Archers Creek behind the Town government complex.  Grant awards are expected to be announced in September, and if funding is approved by the CWMTF and other grant funding partners can be identified, the Town may have the opportunity to purchase this tract for natural area preservation and additional future development of active recreational facilities.

Water Resources Development Grant Application

I recently accompanied a State representative on a site visit to the Archers Creek west segment.  State personnel are currently evaluating the Town’s $20,000 grant application, and grant awards are expected to be announced in April.  If grant funds are awarded, work will be scheduled for this fall after the busy summer season.

Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station

The Town’s contractor, SunLand Builders, continues work on this project, and is nearing completion.  Most excavation work is complete, the pump station housing is in the ground, and and the majority of the pipe connection from the Osprey Ridge neighborhood into Emerald Isle Woods Park is complete.  Remaining work includes additional pipe installation, the electrical connection, and clean-up to restore the area to a nature park condition.  I am hopeful that all work will be complete within the next two weeks. 

New Small Storm Water Relay Pump - Bogue Court

Public Works is coordinating with the adjacent property owner (who will provide an easement) and is still waiting for the water table to subside on Bogue Court in order to proceed with the installation of the new small storm water relay pump in this location.  We hope to complete this work in the next couple of weeks.  The new system will discharge water into the dune field at The Point, and should effectively resolve standing water issues on Bogue Court. 

New Storm Water Infiltration Systems

Public Works recently installed new storm water infiltration systems in the 7300 block of Ocean Drive and in the 7300 block of Sound Drive.  Although we don’t expect these systems to completely resolve nuisance flooding concerns in these locations, we are hopeful that they will greatly reduce the frequency and duration of standing water in these areas.

Storm Water Improvement / New Sidewalk Stub Near Speedway Gas Station

Public Works has completed the installation of a new storm water overflow pipe at the northeast corner of Coast Guard Road and NC 58 (near the Speedway gas station) in an attempt to better drain that roadway after heavy rainfall events.  A Town contractor will be replacing the sidewalk panels that were removed to accommodate this project (and the sidewalk will be extended further north to connect to the Speedway driveway) in the next week. 

Cape Emerald Discharge Pipe Replacement

I have submitted the necessary CAMA permit application for this project, and am still awaiting formal issuance of the permit.  The NC Surface Water Quality section has approved the project, however, the NC Shellfish Sanitation section has expressed some concern, and the Town’s engineers (Moffatt & Nichol) recently provided additional documentation to demonstrate that there will be no negative impact on water quality in Bogue Sound as a result of this project.  I am hopeful that the required CAMA permit will be issued in the coming weeks.  Upon issuance of the CAMA permit, I will solicit price quotes from area contractors for this work.  The FY 16-17 budget includes a total of $32,500 for this work, which I hope will be sufficient.   

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

The Town’s contractor, B&P Services, has removed the Sea Crest walkway, and will be constructing a new walkway in the coming weeks.  Upon completion of Sea Crest, we expect the contractor to move to the Georgia Street walkway, followed by the Hubert Street walkway.  We hope to have all 3 walkways complete and open to the public by April 30, if not sooner.

Coyote Management Program

As of February 8, a total of 13 coyotes (9 males and 4 females) have been trapped and removed as a result of this program, which began on December 1.  Only 3 coyotes were removed in the past month, suggesting that the coyotes have become more aware of the trapping efforts.  Thus far, there have been no issues or concerns with the program, which will continue through February 28.

Controlled Deer Hunt

The Emerald Isle Police Department completed the 2017 controlled hunt on January 24, after conducting night-time hunts on 8 different nights in January.  The hunt resulted in the taking of 27 deer, which is consistent with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s permit recommendation.  Approximately 500 lbs. of deer meat was donated to the Hope Mission in Morehead City to feed the hungry in our community.  Deer population counts, Police Department experience, and feedback from EI residents all suggest that the deer population has declined in recent years. 

New Park Gates

The Town’s contractor has completed the installation of new park gates at both the Western Ocean Regional Access and Emerald Isle Woods Park.  The new gates match the existing gates at the Town’s beach vehicle ramps and the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.   

New CAMA Regulation Benefits Larger Oceanfront Structures

A new CAMA regulation allows larger oceanfront structures (between 5,000 sq. ft. and 10,000 sq. ft.) that were constructed prior to August 2009 to be reconstructed or replaced with the same footprint and with the same size structure, even if these structures can not meet ocean setback requirements that were significantly increased in 2009.  

There are few structures on the oceanfront in Emerald Isle that are more than 5,000 sq. ft., and this new regulation will provide helpful flexibility for these property owners in the future.  This new regulation will promote an attractive oceanfront row of structures in Emerald Isle behind what is currently a healthy dune and beach profile.  

EI Woods Park Disc Golf Course

Installation of the “goals” for the new disc golf course is underway, and is being coordinated by local resident Andy Johnson with assistance from the Parks and Recreation Department.  We expect the new course to be open to the public within the next month or so. 

Effective Date for New Flood Maps Delayed

As discussed previously, the new draft flood maps for Carteret County are very favorable for many Emerald Isle property owners, with many properties removed from the more restrictive and higher premium VE zones.  Due, in part, to concerns from other communities in Carteret County that are negatively impacted by the new maps and the expected lengthy appeals process, the new maps are not likely to be effective until sometime in 2019.  

New Guardrails on NC 58 Bridge Planned for Late 2017  

NCDOT will soon solicit bids for additional work on the NC 58 bridge, including the installation of new, higher guardrails.  Work underneath the bridge will likely begin this summer (should not have a significant impact on traffic), and the new guardrails are expected to be installed in late 2017.

Condominium Deck Inspection Program

Town Planner Josh Edmonson held a productive meeting with condominium complex representatives and management companies on January 11, and has drafted a set of “best management initiatives” for use by the condominium complexes in the future.  Josh Edmondson will soon be reviewing the program with the condominium complex representatives and management companies, who will ultimately be responsible for implementing the program.  The Town will continue to support and assist as needed or desired. 

Unified Development Ordinance Simplification

Upon Board approval of the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Josh Edmondson and I will be working on a significantly simplified UDO to present to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the coming months.  My goal is to eliminate all unnecessary regulations and confusing language, and create a simple, reader-friendly ordinance that achieves the Town’s most important development policy goals.

New Island Harbor Marina Signs

Town Planner Josh Edmondson is working with the owner of the marina to replace the 3 existing signs located on the east side of NC 58 between the bridge and Coast Guard Road.  The replacement of these off-premises signs was made possible by a sign ordinance amendment approved this summer.  The preliminary design of the new signs is very attractive, and should result in a nicer appearance in that area.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging

At the request of the Coast Guard, the US Army Corps of Engineers is expected to dredge the Coast Guard Channel (near Bogue Inlet) in the coming days.  Due to the need to preserve our limited funds, and the fact that warm weather boating will not begin for another couple of months, I requested that the Corps not complete any dredging work in February, and requested that they attempt to schedule Bogue Inlet dredging work for April or May.