Memo-05-14-2019-Item-16

May 14, 2019

MEMO TO:          Honorable Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Randy Martin, Interim Town Manager

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

Eastern Emerald Isle Beach Re-nourishment Project Update

I am elated to report that the Eastern Emerald Isle beach re-nourishment project dredging and sand pumping effort has been completed.  The contractor, Great Lakes Dock & Dredge, met project requirements and wrapped-up the basic elements before the April 30th completion deadline and within the project budget.  Once the sand aspects of the project were complete, dune plantings began in the project area consisting of sea oats (predominantly) and bitter panicum (sparsely).  The public is reminded to PLEASE STAY OFF THE DUNES so that these plantings have a chance to survive.  The Town has begun putting in a post and rope system at each public access to define paths to the beach that avoid the dune plantings.  Signs will also be posted at access points reminding people to stay off the dunes.  This is especially important until the plantings are well established.  The Town is also focused on restoring the damaged access point stairs and walkways now that the sand profile has been established.  We anticipate those elements to be complete in May.

Pre-beach plantings showing posted and roped public access point.

Completed section with beach plantings.

The Town of Emerald Isle expresses its appreciation to our partners in this endeavor including Carteret County representing the Salter Path community, the Town of Indian Beach, the Beach Commission and County Shore Protection Office with a special “shout out” to Beach Protection Officer Greg “Rudi” Rudolph who once again did an outstanding job helping to ensure the project’s success.  The project engineer Moffat & Nichol and the contractor did an outstanding job in their respective roles on this project as well.  Likewise, the Town staff involved did an exceptional job.  I would like to thank the representatives of the various state and federal regulatory agencies whose cooperation contributed to the successful completion of the project within the established timelines and without any adverse impacts on the environment.  I also congratulate the Town Board of Commissioners and the Carteret County Board of Commissioners respectively for their support and trust which allowed the project to become a reality this year.  I particularly want to thank all the impacted property owners in the project area for their financial support over the years, and their involvement, feedback, cooperation and patience during this project.  The project was in my opinion a “win-win” for all parties involved and provides a great template for how to correctly do the next planned project for the rest of Emerald Isle’s beaches in late 2019 and into 2020.

Ocean Safety Update

With the eastern section of beach being re-nourished and other municipal infrastructure repairs being addressed, Emerald Isle is rapidly returning to a near state of normalcy following the significant impacts of Hurricane Florence last fall.  This is important as the Town readies itself to being fully “Open for Business” for summer, 2019.   As the busy 2019 tourism season ramps up, however, Town officials want to reiterate safety precautions for our visitors and residents.  Town emergency responders have already performed ocean rescues earlier than normal this year during storm events in the early spring, and  they strongly desire to do everything possible to provide safety information and timely updates to hopefully avoid undesirable and even tragic outcomes like some of the experiences of the past year.  To this end, the Town is reviewing its prior year public education practices and evaluating new approaches including promoting the use of additional technologies to better achieve optimum results.  Visitors are encouraged to monitor all safety alerts on weather and follow the Town’s social media platforms while planning trips or visiting Emerald Isle.  Additional updates on other safety promotion initiatives will be forthcoming as the season progresses. The following are some of the updated Town publications that we are using:

Be Aware of Ocean Conditions, and Stay Safe!

The Town is fortunate to be served by a quality team of lifeguards and trained Fire and EMS personnel that respond to numerous water rescue calls throughout the summer.  Emerald Isle has ~ 12 miles of ocean beaches, and it's impossible for Town staff to be everywhere on the beach strand, so PLEASE make sure you are aware of current ocean conditions, know your abilities, and enjoy the ocean with a friend or family member. 

The Fire Department (which manages the lifeguard program) relies on National Weather Service advisories AND local observations to gauge current ocean conditions in Emerald Isle.  The Town utilizes a YELLOW FLAG and RED FLAG warning system to communicate ocean conditions to those visiting the beach. The Town's normal status is communicated with YELLOW FLAGs, which indicate moderate hazards.  Although it's a great place to enjoy yourself, the ocean consistently presents some risk, and the public is always advised to use caution while enjoying the ocean.  As conditions warrant, YELLOW FLAGs are displayed at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, Western Ocean Regional Access, Bogue Inlet Pier, on roving all-terrain vehicles, and in front of Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 2.  

When conditions deteriorate and become more dangerous, the Town utilizes RED FLAGs to communicate high hazards and advise the public to stay out of the ocean.  At the start of the summer season, RED FLAGs are displayed at every beach access location (roughly every 1/4 mile +/-), at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, Western Ocean Regional Access, Bogue Inlet Pier, on roving all-terrain vehicles, and in front of Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 2.  RED FLAG status is also communicated via the Town's various digital platforms (website, email newsletter, the Emerald Isle APP, facebook, Twitter, and text message alerts).  PLEASE heed the RED FLAG warnings when they are issued - if you choose to enter the ocean anyway you are not only putting yourself at risk, but also concerned bystanders and the Town's water rescue personnel!  

In addition to staffing the beach with 2 fixed and 4 roving lifeguards each day during the summer, the Town also provides "rescue tubes" at beach access locations to assist those in distress. Other beachgoers should only use these "rescue tubes" if they are physically capable of responding to others in distress and when 911 has also been alerted - so our trained Fire and EMS personnel can respond as quickly as possible.  

For more information on beach safety, please visit  https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/safety .  Stay safe, and have fun!

NCDOT Pedestrian Crossing Improvements on Emerald Drive (Highway 58)

NCDOT crews and contractors have completed the long-awaited installation of previously approved and state-funded Pedestrian Crossing Signage & Lighting improvements in front of the Town administrative building and in the vicinity of the Fire Station #2 facility in the eastern section of Town.  The new signage features solar powered push button technology that activates flashing safety lighting to alert vehicles approaching the crossings.  We are pleased that these are now operational well before the traditional kickoff of the heaviest of the tourist season.  I thank NCDOT officials for making this needed improvement happen this spring.

In closing, it continues to be my good fortune to serve Emerald Isle as Interim Town Manager.  Thank you to the many citizens who use this publication as a means of providing feedback and for the support many of you have provided during my tenure.  Feel free to share this information with other interested parties and let them know that the Town will be happy to add others to our distribution list if they desire.