Memo-03-13-2018-Item-14

March 13, 2018

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:       Comments from Town Manager - (Monthly Statistical Report)

Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival – March 17, 2018

The Town’s signature festival will be held for the 27th time on the actual St. Patrick’s Day holiday!  As in the past few years, children’s rides will also be open on Friday, March 16 from 5 pm – 10 pm.  Special thanks to Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, and her team for their great efforts.  We are looking forward to a big weekend!

As in past years, visitors are permitted to park vehicles in the NC 58 right of way. The recently seeded area near the new NC 58 roundabout will be roped off to protect emerging grass, however, there should be ample parking area along the rest of the NC 58 right of way.  Additionally, Publix will be allowing the public to park in their new parking lot between Crew Drive and NC 58.

EI Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K Races – March 10, 2018

As f March 8, we are approaching 800 runners, and hope to have a few more late entries.  The weather forecast looks great for the race, and we look forward to another successful event in EI!

NC 58 Roundabout Construction Nearing Completion

The NC 58 roundabout is complete, and is functioning well (aerial photo attached).  The contractor still has a few more pavement markings to complete, particularly on the south leg (Mallard Drive near the bike path) and on NC 58 as drivers approach the roundabout.  This work is expected to be complete on March 9 or soon thereafter.

We will continue to evaluate the roundabout in the coming weeks, and work with NCDOT traffic engineers to identify any other sign and/or pavement marking adjustments that may be helpful.  I expect to invite NCDOT engineers back to Emerald Isle in the coming weeks to review any potential additional adjustments.

We are also planning to add a few street lights in the roundabout area in the coming weeks, and I am awaiting a recommendation from Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative on specific locations.  We are also seeking to add small reflectors on the pavement and/or on the concrete islands.

Golf Cart Path Construction Underway

The Town’s contractor is making good progress on the construction of an approximately 400 ft. long golf cart path along NC 58 between Olde Cove Road and Whitewater Drive.  We expect the new path to be complete and open for golf cart traffic within the next two weeks.  The new path will enable residents of the Olde Cove Road subdivision to safely and legally access Town streets for golf cart travel to other areas of Emerald Isle.  If this “pilot project” is well-received, we will be discussing other potential projects with the new Golf Cart Advisory Committee in the coming months. 

Reed Drive Paving

We had hoped to complete the resurfacing of Reed Drive between Loon Drive and Coast Guard Road prior to March 9, however, weather and other factors have delayed this work until the week of March 12.  We will be working to have this work completed before the St. Patrick’s Festival on March 16-17.

Coast Guard Road Pavement Markings Touched Up

Performance Striping, a local pavement marking company, recently offered to repaint the Coast Guard Road pavement markings for only the cost of the paint itself, as part of their testing of a new piece of equipment.  Most of this work was completed on March 7, and we expect them to complete the remaining segments of Coast Guard Road on March 9. 

Coast Guard Road Electric Line Improvements

Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative’s contractor is nearing completion of vegetation removal between Ocean Oaks Drive and Spinnakers Reach, and should complete this phase of the project in the coming days.  A different contractor will then be replacing poles and adding additional electric lines to improve reliability in this area of Emerald Isle.  All work is expected to be complete before Memorial Day weekend.

Coyote Trapping Program Complete

The Town’s winter 2017-18 coyote trapping program ended on February 28, and resulted in the trapping of a total of 12 coyotes.  A total of 9 males and 3 females were trapped.  There were 5 coyotes trapped at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, 2 coyotes trapped on the McLean-Spell Park property, and 5 coyotes trapped in various locations along Coast Guard Road.

The EIPD will continue to monitor coyote concerns, and will assist property owners as necessary and appropriate. 

State Beach Nourishment Funding Request

With the NC General Assembly’s short session beginning in May, we expect to work more closely with NC Representative McElraft and NC Senator Sanderson on the Town’s funding request.  As approved by the Board in January, the Town is seeking $4.6 million from the new Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund, or 50% of the total $9.2 million project cost.  We remain hopeful that these funds can be included in the FY 18-19 State budget, and thus enable the project to be constructed during winter 2018-2019.

Final Environmental Impact Statement Released – Beach Nourishment “Master Plan”

After more than 8 years, the “Master Plan” for beach nourishment activities along all of Bogue Banks is nearing final approval.  The Final EIS was released on March 1, and public comments are now being accepted until April 2.  The EIS, which outlines future beach nourishment and inlet management efforts for the next 50 years, and will significantly streamline the permitting process for future projects, is expected to be approved later this spring or summer.  Formal Federal and State permits are expected soon thereafter, and should be in place for the planned winter 2018-19 beach nourishment project in eastern Emerald Isle.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging Planned for Late April or early May

The navigation channel from the AIWW to the ocean bar in Bogue Inlet is in generally good condition, with only a few shoaling areas in the marked navigation channel (new survey attached).  The US Army Corps of Engineers is tentatively scheduled to touch up the main navigation channel in late April or early May, which is good timing for the 2018 tourism season. 

New Public Water Access Grant Cycle

The NC Division of Coastal Management recently issued a “call for grant applications” for the 2018 Public Water Access grant program.  Pre-applications are due by April 9, and approximately $1 million will be awarded to recipients in the 20 coastal counties.  The local match for this grant program is 15% for land acquisition and 25% for improvements to existing sites. 

One idea I’ve been contemplating is a potential lot purchase near The Point to expand parking opportunities in that area – essentially to create another facility similar to the Station Street Park.  I have discussed the potential acquisition of a vacant lot on Channel Drive with the owner, and I am also exploring another vacant lot on Island Circle.  If we can assemble a purchase contract and competitive grant application between now and April 9, I may submit the grant application and seek retroactive Board approval of the grant application at the April 10 Board meeting.  I will keep the Board informed of any progress on this issue.  Please also let me know if you have other grant application ideas.

Beach Access Walkway Construction

The construction of the new beach access walkway at West Landing Drive is complete, and the Town’s contractor is currently working on the Fairfax Drive walkway.  Work on the Whitewater Drive and Beachview Drive walkways begin upon completion of Fairfax Drive.  The contractor will then construct new steps to provide easier access to Bogue Sound at the end of Lee Avenue.  Our goal is to have all of this work completed by May.  

Golf Cart Advisory Committee to Meet on March 26

The new committee will hold its first meeting on Monday, March 26 at 3 pm in the Town Board Meeting Room.  Police Chief Tony Reese and I will provide staff support to the new committee.  We expect to provide an overview of the Town’s golf cart program, provide background information on the geographical, legal, practical, and financial challenges associated with expanding golf cart access, assist the committee with the selection of a Chair, and determine the future meeting schedule.  We look forward to working with this group to further enhance the Town’s successful golf cart program!

Dog Park Development Committee to Meet on March 28

This new committee will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, March 28 at 3 pm in the Town Board Meeting Room.  Parks and Recreation Director Alesia Sanderson and I will provide staff support to the new committee.  We expect to provide a review of previous locations considered for a dog park, explain the successful fundraising model employed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and discuss desired elements of any new dog park in Emerald Isle.  We also expect to assist the committee with the selection of a Chair and determine the future meeting schedule.  We look forward to working with the group to make this goal a reality in EI in the not-too-distant future!

New “Welcome to Emerald Isle” Sign To Be Installed

The new welcome sign has been ordered, and is expected to be installed before Easter weekend.  A new flagpole and lighting will also be installed.

NC 58 “Gateway” Flowers, Uplighting

Parks and Recreation Department staff continue to work with Commissioner Finch (with his background as an electrical contractor) on the installation of uplighting in the landscaped areas along NC 58 near the bridge.  We expect to have the new lights installed by May, and also plan to add colorful flowers in this area.

NC 58 Sidewalk Repairs

The Town’s contractor has completed the replacement of several damaged sidewalk panels between Emerald Plantation and Mangrove Drive, and we expect the remaining locations to be completed prior to the St. Patrick’s Festival on March 17.

Coast Guard Road Bicycle Path Crossings

Public Works staff have added orange flags to pedestrian crossing signs at two locations (Emerald Isle Woods Park, Wyndward Court) along Coast Guard Road to improve awareness, and is investigating other signage improvements for this area. 

NC 58 Flashing Pedestrian Crosswalk

We are working with NC Representative Pat McElraft to secure approximately $15,000 - $20,000 of State funds to enable NCDOT to install a flashing pedestrian crosswalk on NC 58 near the Ocean Drive “dog-leg”.  This improvement has been requested by residents in the Water’s Edge Mobile Home Park multiple times in the past, and Rep McElraft is working hard to honor this request.

The Town has also received additional requests for flashing pedestrian crosswalks, but has not been able to secure State funding for these improvements.  Other locations that could benefit from these features include Cedar Tree Lane, Lee Avenue, Cedar Street, and Islander Drive. 

EMS Transition Complete

The Town began providing emergency medical services with a new Town EMS Department on March 1, and thus far the transition has been smooth.  All necessary transition tasks are complete, and new Chief David Jones began leading the department on March 1. 

Vacant Paramedic Position

All 6 of the full-time paramedics and EMTs accepted positions with the new Town EMS Department, and we are pleased to have them join the Town organization.  One full-time paramedic recently submitted his resignation, however, to accept a promotional opportunity with Onslow County EMS.  He will, however, remain employed by the Town EMS Department in a part-time capacity. 

Fire Engineer Position Filled

The Fire Department recently filled a vacant Fire Engineer position, and I expect to introduce our newest EIFD employee at the April 10 meeting.

Annual Meeting with Emerald Isle Real Estate Professionals

I am scheduled to provide the annual update to Emerald Isle real estate professionals on March 22.  I will again be updating the “Status of Town Projects / Issues” document for distribution to this group, and will also include this document on the Town’s website.  I always enjoy meeting with this group.

Appearance of NC 58 on Mainland Between NC 24 and Emerald Isle Bridge

We have received recent concerns about potholes and the appearance of NC 58 on the mainland as you approach Emerald Isle, and we have requested that NCDOT address these concerns.  I expect NCDOT to devote resources to this effort sometime in the coming weeks, and hopefully have the main entrance-way leading to Emerald Isle looking good before the 2018 tourism season.

NCDOT Evaluating NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive Intersection Improvements

I am currently working with NCDOT to schedule small group meetings with “downtown” business owners later this month to discuss potential improvements to NC 58 in this area.  Following that input, NCDOT will likely further develop its plans and then solicit general public input on potential improvements in this area.  The NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive intersection improvements are planned for 2025 in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), however, NCDOT is working to “bump up” the construction schedule for many smaller projects like this one.  I am optimistic that any improvements will be constructed much sooner than 2025, but I would not expect any construction prior to 2019 or 2020, at the earliest.

More Golf Cart Safety Classes Added

In an effort to make the class as accessible as possible to our absentee property owners, the Police Department has scheduled several more golf cart safety classes this spring.  Additional dates are as follows:

  • Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 6:00pm
  • Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 10:00am
  • Saturday, April 7, 2018 @ 10:00am
  • Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 6:00pm
  • Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 10:00am
  • Saturday, May 5, 2018 @ 10:00am
  • Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 10:00am
  • Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 6:00pm

Golf cart owners who attend the class are eligible for a $25 discount on the annual golf cart registration fee (reducing the fee from $100 to $75).    

New Publix Grocery Store

The new Emerald Isle store is expected to open on March 28.

Sunset Lane Storm Water Improvements

This project is in a holding pattern due to permitting issues, and Town staff are working with the adjacent property owner’s engineer and NC Division of Coastal Management staff to identify an acceptable design adjustment.

Wyndward Court Storm Water Improvements

Public Works hopes to begin work on this project later this month, and plans to install a small electrical pump to relay storm water from the Wyndward Court cul-de-sac over to the Town’s large storm water pump on Island Circle.  This project has been delayed due to other more pressing issues, but we hope to complete this project in the coming weeks.