April 11, 2017

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

Pre-Positioned Hurricane Debris, Pump, Generator Contracts

Town staff are currently working with our FEMA consultant on these contracts, and we expect to present contract recommendations to the Board at the May 9 meeting. 

FY 17-18 Recommended Budget

Finance Director Laura Rotchford and I are working to finalize the FY 17-18 Recommended Budget, which will be presented to the Board at the May 9 meeting.

Bogue Inlet Dredging

The US Army Corps of Engineers dredge “Merritt” is currently working in Bogue Inlet.  The dredge will be clearing a new, more central connecting channel in the area northwest and north of The Point, and the aids to navigation will be repositioned by the US Coast Guard upon completion of dredging work later this month. 

This work is funded by the State-local reserve assembled last year by the Town.  There is currently a balance of approximately $269,000 in the reserve.  The current work is expected to require more than half of that amount.  I am hopeful that the current dredging will leave the inlet in generally good shape as the boating season begins.

Draft EIS for Beach Nourishment “Master Plan” to Be Released

After several years of hard work by many (under the direction of the Carteret County Beach Commission), the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the "Master Plan" for future beach nourishment activities in our area is finally set to be released for public comment this month.  The Draft EIS outlines planned future beach nourishment activities for all of Bogue Banks, including Emerald Isle, and also outlines future management efforts in Bogue Inlet.  The Draft EIS covers a 50-year planning period, and will be followed by a Final EIS later this year or early next year.  The Final EIS should then enable the issuance of a 50-year Federal and State permit authorization for future beach nourishment and inlet management activities in Emerald Isle.

County Funding Request for Land Purchase

The Carteret County Board of Commissioners will consider the Town’s request for $450,000 of economic development funding to assist in the purchase of the old go-kart track at its meeting on April 17. 

Dedication Ceremony – New Disc Golf Course – Friday, April 14 at 10 am

Thanks to the efforts of US Coast Guard member and resident Andy Johnson, other volunteers, and sponsors, a new disc golf course has been installed in Emerald Isle Woods Park.  The 9-hole course weaves through the natural maritime forest, and ends near the Bogue Sound shoreline. A public dedication ceremony for the new course will be held on Friday, April 14 at 10 am at the park.

Publix Building Plans Submitted

Detailed building plans for the new Publix grocery store have been submitted, and Town and County staff are reviewing the plans.  We expect permits to be issued later this month, and that Publix will break ground soon thereafter.  Publix’ goal is to open in spring 2018.

Publix is tentatively planning to begin construction of the new NC 58 / Mallard Drive roundabout in November 2017.  They will be working hard to complete the road improvements prior to March 2018.  Construction activities will be closely coordinated with the Town and NCDOT. 

New Construction Activity Increasing

The Town permitted a total of 9 new single-family homes in March, and the total for the first 9 months of the fiscal year is now 34 new homes.  This total exceeds last fiscal year (33 new homes for the entire year), with 3 months still left in the fiscal year.

Beach Access Parking Fees Begin April 14

Town staff will begin collecting beach access parking fees on Friday, April 14 (Good Friday holiday), and will continue each weekend and holiday until mid-September.  As part of the FY 17-18 Recommended Budget, we are considering expanding the fee and charging on other days of the week, and I may ask the Board to consider this approach at the May 9 meeting.

No Beach Access Food Vendor Program This Summer

After soliciting both Emerald Isle and non-Emerald Isle food vendors over the past two months, we have decided not to offer this program this summer.  We received only minimal interest from potential vendors, and no definitive commitments. 

Beach Swing Installed at Western Ocean Regional Access, Available for Sponsorship

A prototype beach swing has been installed at the Western Ocean Regional Access, and we are offering the opportunity for our residents and property owners to “sponsor” additional beach swings at other public beach access locations.  The program will be identical to the popular bench program along the bike path, and will allow for family and friends to be honored with a beach swing.  The cost to produce and install a beach swing is $1,000, and the Town will simply pass that cost along to the sponsor.

Police and Fire Departments Gearing Up for Summer Season

EIPD is currently recruiting for additional reserve Police Officers to provide additional presence on the beach strand this summer.  EIPD will have additional officers on the beach daily during Easter week and each weekend until mid-May.  Beginning mid-May, additional staffing will be in place each day throughout the summer months.

The Fire Department is currently recruiting lifeguards to staff the two regional beach accesses and provide roving lifeguard services on the entire beach strand.  Lifeguard training is scheduled to be held from May 13 – 21, and May 22 will be their first day on the beach strand.  Lifeguard services will continue daily through Labor Day weekend. 

“Shred Day” – Saturday, May 6

The Town of Cape Carteret has organized a local "Shred Day" for area residents and businesses, and the Town of Emerald Isle is a partner in this effort.  The "Shred Day" will be held on Saturday, May 6 at the Lowe's Foods parking lot in Cape Carteret.  Emerald Isle residents can dispose of sensitive documents between 9 am and 12 noon, followed by businesses from 12 noon - 1 pm.  

Bike The Banks – Saturday, May 6

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Parks and Recreation staff are finalizing plans for the 3rd annual event on Saturday, May 6.  Riders can choose from a 100 mile, 50 mile, and 10 mile ride.  As of April 3, a total of 35 riders have registered.  We hope to exceed 100 riders for this year’s event, and hopefully more.  All proceeds benefit the Town’s bicycle path network.

“Mobi-Mat” To Be Tested at Randy’s Way Beach Access

After beach driving season ends on April 30, Town staff will install a “Mobi-Mat” at the Randy’s Way beach access to test its effectiveness.  The mat is designed to make it easier for wheelchairs, mobility-impaired individuals, and strollers / carts to access the beach.  The manufacturer has provided this sample product to the Town to test it during the summer beach season.

PEP Program To Focus on 911 Center Protocols, Caller Questions

We sometimes receive complaints from our residents and property owners about the seemingly long list of questions asked by County 911 dispatchers when someone calls 911 to report a concern.  In all instances, the Police, Fire, and/or EMS responder is dispatched early in the dialogue after the dispatcher has the most important information, and the subsequent questions occur while the responder is en route.  In an effort to better educate our residents and property owners, Chief Reese has arranged for County officials to present information about 911 protocols at the April 18 PEP (Police Educating the Public) meeting. 

Citizen Recognition Program Being Developed

Town staff are currently reviewing a potential “citizen recognition” program, and we may present a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at the May or June meeting.  The program would outline the criteria and selection process for the presentation of awards or special recognition to individuals who have made a significant contribution or performed a specific heroic act in Emerald Isle. 

Senate Bill 126 – Sales Tax Redistribution

Town officials met with Senator Harry Brown, Senator Norman Sanderson, and Representative Pat McElraft on March 29 to discuss the impact of Senate Bill 126 on tourism-dependent communities like Emerald Isle and Carteret County.  Two alternative proposals were presented for consideration, both of which would preserve current sales tax revenues for Emerald Isle and Carteret County.  I am hopeful that Senator Brown will ultimately pursue a solution that does not harm Emerald Isle and/or that Senate Bill 126 will be defeated, and, at this point, I plan to assume no negative impacts for our sales tax estimate in the FY 17-18 Recommended Budget.

School Calendar Bills

There appear to have been more bills filed this legislative session to change the school calendar than in previous years, and we continue to monitor the various bills.  Two bills, H375 and H389 have been passed by the NC House and will soon be considered by the NC Senate.  H375 essentially allows any school system to set its school start date to match the local community college, but not earlier than August 15.  H389 establishes a pilot program whereby 20 school systems would be permitted to begin the school year as early as August 10, with corresponding studies on the impact of this change on student achievement.  I remain hopeful that neither bill will ultimately be approved by the NC Senate. 

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival Funding Request

We have submitted a funding request to the TDA Board of Directors for $35,000 for the 2017 Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival (BMF), and expect to receive their funding decision later in April or early May.  The 2017 BMF will again be held on the beach at the Western Ocean Regional Access – on Saturday, September 30.

Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station

This project is approximately 95% complete, and SunLand Builders is awaiting delivery of a specialized part before completing necessary work to make the pump station operational.  The nature trail near the pump station will be restored to a usable and attractive condition upon completion of the final pump station work.  I am hoping to have this work complete in the next 1 – 2 weeks.

Bogue Inlet Drive Improvements, Bike Path

This project is approximately 80% complete, with all road base work complete.  Paving is scheduled to occur prior to Good Friday, weather permitting.  Upon completion of paving, the new street lights, pavement markings, and landscaping will be installed.  We expect to have the entire project complete before the end of April.

We have made several minor adjustments to the scope of the project during construction, and each adjustment is aimed at enhancing the finished product.  For example, the road was “flared” at the entrance to Bogue Inlet Pier to provide for a more comfortable entry and this required the installation of small retaining wall.  Additionally, we will be expanding the road surface from 20 ft. (planned) to 22 ft. to provide for more comfortable vehicle travel lanes along the main segment.  

Street Resurfacing

The only street remaining from the 2017 street resurfacing contract is the small segment of Louise Avenue at the entrance to the Western Ocean Regional Access.  We intentionally delayed this work due to heavy equipment using the roadway to install the wastewater system at The Islander.  The wastewater work is nearly complete, and we intend to have Louise Avenue paved at the same time as Bogue Inlet Drive.

Damage to Western Ocean Regional Access Parking Lot

As a result of work on the wastewater system at The Islander, a small area (approximately the size of 1 parking space) of the Western Ocean Regional Access parking lot has subsided, causing asphalt and sub-surface damage.  The white vinyl fence in this area was also damaged.  The Islander has committed to complete the necessary repairs when their parking lot is resurfaced later this spring.

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

The Town’s contractor, B&P Services, has completed the Sea Crest walkway.  The Georgia Street walkway has been removed, and the contractor is now constructing the new walkway.  Upon completion of Georgia Street, the contractor will move to the Hubert Street walkway. 

Western Ocean Regional Access Stage Expansion

In an effort to improve the stage for performers, a Town contractor will be adding an additional 200 sq. ft. to the stage at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  We hope to have this expansion completed before Memorial Day weekend, and used by performers for EmeraldFest concerts this summer and at the Beach Music Festival in September. 

Special Concert at Western Ocean Regional Access – Thursday, April 27

Grammy-nominated singer / songwriter / entertainer Paul Colman will perform a special free concert on the beach stage at the Western Ocean Regional Access on Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 pm.  Paul Colman has performed all over the world, garnered numerous awards, and has sold hundreds of thousands of records.  He still travels the world sharing his songs, thoughts, and faith, and will play 4 special concerts in our area in late April. He has released 15 recordings featuring his songs, and was also the guitarist for the Australian rockers The Newsboys from 2005 - 2008.  

Retire NC

Commissioner Normile and I are scheduled to meet with Carla Abee, a local realtor, on April 19 to discuss her interest in coordinating a committee to introduce / welcome potential retirees to Emerald Isle through the Retire NC program.  As you recall, the Town previously considered participating in this State program aimed at attracting retirees from other states to North Carolina, however, we did not receive sufficient interest from the Emerald Isle Business Association to proceed at that time. 

Comprehensive Land Use Plan

Town Planner Josh Edmondson and the Town’s consultant are currently working with NC Division of Coastal Management staff to address comments and provide clarifications regarding the Town’s 2017 Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  We hope to resolve these concerns and present a final version of the plan for formal Board approval at the May or June meeting.

NC 58 Traffic Improvements Funding Request

I continue to work with Representative Pat McElraft to hopefully secure State funding for the installation of 5 pedestrian crosswalks along NC 58 ($75,000) and NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive intersection improvements ($350,000).  

US Congressman Walter Jones Supports Emerald Isle, Opposes CBRS Unit

Congressman Jones recently sent the attached letter to House committee leaders to express opposition to the proposed new Coastal Barrier Resources System in Bogue Inlet.  We greatly appreciate Congressman Jones’ assistance, and are hopeful that Senator Burr and Senator Tillis will also send similar letters of opposition.

Potential Closure of Old Ferry Road Between Mangrove Drive and NC 58 (Behind CVS)

I have not yet received feedback from one of the three property owners affected by a potential closure of this street segment.  I remain hopeful that all three will support this closure, and if so I will present a Resolution of Intent to the Board at a future meeting.

Cape Emerald Discharge Pipe Replacement

I continue to work with the Town’s engineer, Cape Emerald residents, and State officials on a strategy that will satisfy Cape Emerald’s concerns and result in the issuance of the necessary CAMA permit to replace the existing 15-inch discharge pipe.  I am not certain if we will be able to secure a permit to install a new 24-inch pipe, and may need to “settle” for an 18-inch pipe or a new 15-inch pipe.  Regardless of the pipe size, it will need to be replaced at some point in the near future due to deterioration.  The FY 16-17 budget includes a total of $32,500 for this work.   

New Small Storm Water Relay Pump - Bogue Court

Public Works has not yet installed this new feature due to the continued presence of a high water table in this area.  I have asked staff to consider alternate designs so that the new system can be installed in the coming weeks.  The new system will discharge water into the dune field at The Point, and should effectively resolve standing water issues on Bogue Court. 

Additional Storm Water Improvement Near Speedway Gas Station, Near K&V Plaza

Public Works has completed the installation of a new infiltration area on the northeast corner of Coast Guard Road and NC 58, and it appears to be more effective in resolving standing water concerns at this location.  I have asked Public Works to install a similar system on the northwest corner of that intersection, and we hope to complete this work in the next few months.  Public Works is also planning to install a similar system in front of K&V Plaza near the intersection of Mangrove Drive and NC 58, near the gas pumps.  This area frequently accumulates standing water. 

Town Survey

I have not yet had an opportunity to devote time to this effort, but still hope to devise a customer satisfaction survey to be offered online early this summer. 

Emerald Isle Video / Commercial

Brad Styron, a local photographer / videographer, is still working on the planned Emerald Isle video / commercial, and we hope to “debut” it just before Memorial Day weekend.  The new video / commercial will include footage of all the great things about Emerald Isle and will be available on the Town’s website and social media platforms.  I also hope to eventually create a 30-second version that could potentially air on television as a commercial.

2020 US Census

The US Census Bureau is gearing up for the 2020 Census.  Town Planner Josh Edmondson will attend an information session on April 18 to learn more about this process, and will make a presentation to the Board and the community at an upcoming Board meeting.

Condominium Deck Program

Town Planner Josh Edmonson continues to work with condominium complex representatives and management companies on this program, and we hope to resolve the outstanding concerns and implement the program later this spring.

Unified Development Ordinance Simplification

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.