June 12, 2018

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

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

July 4 Fireworks at Bogue Inlet Pier!

Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, and Fire Department personnel are working to insure a safe, quality fireworks show on July 4.  The Town has contracted with Class A Fireworks, based in eastern NC, for this year’s show. 

We greatly appreciate the partnership with Mike Stanley, owner of Bogue Inlet Pier, for the fireworks event.  State fireworks regulations require the pier to close early to allow for safe setup, and we expect the pier to close to the public early afternoon on July 4.  The concession stand and beach areas will remain open all day. 

Retiree Health Insurance Assistance Program

We expect to present a formal amendment to the Town’s Personnel Policy at the July 10 meeting to establish this new program.  The new program will provide a total of $10 per month, per year of Town service, to any retirees with more than 20 years of Town service to be used for post-retirement health insurance and/or other medical expenses.  The new program is expected to benefit 5 – 10 Town retirees at any one time, with an average annual cost of approximately $24,000 per year for the next 10 years.

Potential Dog Park Location

The Dog Park Development Committee continues its work, and I expect a location recommendation to be on the Board’s July 10 meeting agenda for formal Board consideration.  After also considering locations at Emerald Isle Woods Park, the Town Government Complex, the vacant tract adjacent to the Town Administration Building, and the Senator Jean Preston Playground, the Committee has identified a potential location in the new McLean-Spell Park. 

McLean-Spell Park Pedestrian Bridge

We have received several quotes for the purchase of a pre-fabricated aluminum or steel bridge to cross Archers Creek and connect the Community Center parking lot with the new McLean-Spell Park.  Price quotes range from approximately $14,000 – $62,000, depending on dimensions and material, and these costs do not include site preparation and installation.  These quotes are more than desired, and we are now planning to construct a wooden pedestrian bridge over Archers Creek.  The pedestrian bridge will have a similar design as the Town’s beach access walkways, be approximately 12 ft. wide, and span a distance of approximately 50 feet.  Preliminary cost estimates indicate a total cost in the $10,000 +/- range.

I hope to have the new bridge constructed in the coming weeks in order to provide a convenient link from the Community Center parking lot to the nature trails in the park.  Additional signage will be included at this location, and this will become the primary park entrance.  Once the bridge is complete, we will schedule a formal dedication ceremony for the new park later this summer or early fall.

State Budget Includes Funding for Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund

The recently approved State budget includes $5 million in the new Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund, and we expect these funds to be released for the eastern Emerald Isle beach nourishment project (and companion projects in Indian Beach and/or Pine Knoll Shores) planned for construction later this winter.  The State budget was recently approved by the NC General Assembly, and then vetoed by Governor Cooper, however, the NC General Assembly is expected to override the veto in the coming days.  Thanks to Representative McElraft, the budget includes the following provision targeted to assist our project:

SECTION 13.10.(a) Funds appropriated by this act for the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund for the 2018-2019 fiscal year shall be allocated to a locally sponsored project that is (i) derived from a regional management plan and formal interlocal agreement and (ii) authorized under a multidecade, programmatic permit authorization issued to the local sponsor.

Design work for the planned beach nourishment project is underway, and we expect to solicit construction bids in late summer or early fall.  Assuming reasonable bids, construction will likely begin sometime around January 1.

EIFD Investigating Motorized Water Rescue Board

The Fire Department is considering the purchase of a motorized water rescue board to improve the safety and effectiveness of water rescue efforts.  The device is essentially a more substantial “boogie board” with a mini jet-ski motor, and includes a rescue tube mounted into the body of the device.  The device is marketed by a company in Great Britain, and EIFD staff are consulting with other customers to determine its applicability for our lifeguard team.  If this device performs well, it is likely that we will equip all lifeguards on the beach with the new device in the future.

August Regular Meeting Date

The Board’s regular meeting in August is scheduled for Tuesday, August 14.  Due to a conflict in Mayor Barber’s schedule, this meeting has been rescheduled for 6 pm on Monday, August 13.     

Meeting with Islander Drive Property Owners

I met recently with all but one of the adjacent property owners (and will meet separately with the other owner) along Islander Drive to listen to their ideas for future streetscape improvements along Islander Drive.  We had a very good discussion, and I am currently working on refining these ideas and developing cost estimates to share with the Board later this summer. 

Perhaps the most interesting idea is to relocate the overhead power lines underground in this area, which would significantly improve the aesthetic quality of this area.  I met recently with Carteret-Craven Electric staff, and they are developing a cost estimate for us to consider as part of the overall “menu” of potential improvements in this area. 

I will also likely engage the services of Ark Consulting, Greenville, NC, to assist with conceptual plans for this area in order to provide graphic renderings to the adjacent property owners, the Board, and the public.  Ark Consulting prepared previous conceptual plans for the streetscape in this area last summer.

A-Team Enterprises LLC has indicated that their plans are progressing according to schedule, and we expect to close on the sale of the land in August. 

Beach Music Festival Funding Approved

The Tourism Development Authority has approved the Town’s $20,000 funding request to support the 3rd annual Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival on Saturday, September 29.  Planning for this event is underway, and we look forward to another big crowd in Emerald Isle on the beach.

Internet Auction of Surplus Items

The Town’s recent internet auction of surplus items yielded total sales of $24,990.  The auction included 6 surplus Town vehicles and 3 surplus ATVs, some of which were not fully functional.  These funds have been credited to the FY 17-18 General Fund budget.

Parrott Head Club Donates More Money

The Emerald Isle Parrott Head Club recently held a disc golf tournament at Emerald Isle Woods Park, and raised $2,650 for future improvements to the disc golf course.  We greatly appreciate the Parrott Head Club’s support!

Lee Avenue Sound Access Steps Complete

The Town’s contractor has completed the construction of new steps at the Lee Avenue access to Bogue Sound.  The new steps allow for an easier route from the street to the sand path that leads to another set of steps to the water’s edge. 

New Welcome to Emerald Isle Sign Installed at Eastern Town Limits

A new welcome sign, with the new Town logo, has been installed at the eastern Town limits.  The sign is identical to the sign at the base of the bridge, but smaller.

Gateway “Up-Lighting” Completion Expected Later in June

Commissioner Finch, with assistance from Commissioner Taylor, installed new electrical panels for the up-lighting project in mid-May, and Town staff will finish remaining work later this month.  Town staff is awaiting work by Carteret-Craven Electric to bore an electrical line under NC 58.  Once this step is complete, Town staff should be able to have all work complete in a few days.  We hope to have the vegetation lit up in this area before the end of June.

Test Banners Installed at Town Administration Building

Public Works has installed 4 test banners on existing decorative light poles in front of the Town Administration Building, and we will be monitoring these banners in the coming weeks to make sure the poles are strong enough to support the banners during wind events.  If this test goes well, we intend to implement the Town’s new banner program on other decorative light poles prior to the 2019 tourism season. 

Adopt a Beach / Adopt a Street Program

Town Planner Josh Edmondson has been contacted by 5 businesses interested in sponsoring a beach segment and/or street under this new program since the Board approved it at the May 8.  He will be working with the sponsors to begin clean-up efforts in the selected areas, and is also coordinating the posting of signage. 

EmeraldFest Concerts Scheduled

The first EmeraldFest concert was held on Thursday, June 7.  Weekly concerts will be held at the Western Ocean Regional Access each Thursday evening for the next 10 weeks.

Decorative Street Lights at Roundabout

The installation of 5 decorative street lights on the perimeter of the roundabout was expected prior to Memorial Day weekend, but was delayed due to unexpected concerns regarding underground utilities.  These issues have been resolved, and I am hopeful that Carteret-Craven Electric will complete the installation of the new lights in the next week or so.

New Street Lights for Coast Guard Road Bicycle Path

At the request of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a total of 10 new street lights have been added to the Coast Guard Road bicycle path.  The new lights are traditional street lights mounted on existing and new wooden poles, and include the new LED fixtures that Carteret-Craven Electric is gradually transitioning to throughout the Town. 

New Plants Installed Along Coast Guard Road Under New Electric Lines

Town staff recently planted more than a hundred new “yew pine” plants along Coast Guard Road near the entrance to Spinnakers Reach and adjacent to Dolphin Ridge in an effort to re-establish a buffer between the road and existing homes.  These areas were impacted most significantly by the recent electric line installation project completed by Carteret-Craven Electric, and Town staff have been working to improve the appearance in these areas.  “Yew pines” were recommended by Parks Maintenance staff because they grow relatively quickly, serve as a good buffer, and won’t grow tall enough to interfere with electric lines in the future.  Town staff are also planning to install mulch and additional ornamental plants in this area in the coming weeks.

Friday Parking Fees at Regional Beach Accesses

We expect to begin charging the $10 per vehicle per day parking fee at both accesses no later than Friday, July 6.  Depending on staffing levels, we may bump the Friday start date up to either June 22 or June 29, and will publicize this change accordingly. 

Potential TDA Funding Request for Emerald Isle Fishing Tournament

Depending on the guidance of the new committee, we expect to pursue funding from the Tourism Development Authority for the planned new fishing tournament.  A formal resolution will be presented to the Board later this summer after the new committee has refined the overall scope of the new tournament and better identified funding needs.

Potential New Golf Cart Path on Coast Guard Road?

The Golf Cart Advisory Committee has expressed interest in constructing a new dedicated golf cart path along the north side of Coast Guard Road between Osprey Ridge Drive and Bell Cove Shopping Center, and has secured verbal permission from the owner of the shopping center to allow golf cart users to travel through the parking lot to access Reed Drive and other points east. 

The construction of a new golf cart path in this area would enable golf cart users from Cape Emerald, Ocean Oaks, Sea Dunes, Deer Horn Dunes, and Osprey Ridge to legally travel from these areas to the rest of Emerald Isle, including Emerald Plantation, CVS, the “downtown” area, etc.  The new path would be approximately 550 feet long, and will require significant retaining wall segments due to the topography and limited public right of way.  The total estimated cost of this segment is approximately $35,000.  The Town’s new golf cart infrastructure fund is expected to generate approximately $18,000 next year, and could be used to provide 50% of the funding necessary to construct the new path.  The Golf Cart Advisory Committee is considering various fundraising options to generate the remaining funds necessary for this project.  Police Chief Reese and I will be assisting the committee with these efforts in the coming months.

The Committee has also recommended the construction of several new golf cart parking spaces, and Public Works staff has already installed spaces at 3 of the locations recommended.  Public Works will add the others as staff time permits later this summer or fall.

Bogue Inlet ATONs Relocated, Touch-Up Dredging Planned

The Coast Guard recently relocated the aids to navigation (ATONs) into a better channel segment closer to The Point that will require less dredging and results in a straighter route from the ocean bar into Bogue Sound. 

The entire channel across the ocean bar and in the connecting channel from The Point to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is in reasonably good shape, with a couple of minor shoaling areas present.  I remain in communication with the Corps of Engineers, and hope to have touch-up dredging in the channel completed within the next month or so.  The Corps’ sidecast dredge, the Merritt, has been out of service for several months for repairs, but is expected back in service in the coming weeks. I am hopeful that Bogue Inlet will be one of the Merritt’s first projects once it returns to service.

Bundled (Gigabyte Level) Broadband Fiber To The Home

Commissioner Normile and I continue to learn more about this issue and consider different strategies, both by the private sector and through any potential public-private partnerships, to promote additional competition in this market in Emerald Isle.  Depending on how this issue progresses, I may schedule industry experts and/or other officials with experience in this issue to address the Board at an upcoming Town meeting.

Old Circle Pizza Building Near Ocean Drive ‘Dog-Leg’

Town Planner Josh Edmondson continues to work with the owner of the Old Circle Pizza building near the Ocean Drive “dog-leg” to address concerns about the abandoned building.  The owner is now considering repairing the building rather than demolition, and either approach is acceptable as long as the building is restored to a safe and attractive condition.  We hope to have this issue resolved in the coming weeks.  

NC 58 Flashing Pedestrian Crosswalks

NCDOT has constructed a new sidewalk segment near Water’s Edge mobile home park, and has installed crosswalk markings at Islander Drive, the Town complex, and at the Ocean Drive “dog-leg”.  New, push-button flashing beacons are also planned, and should be installed in the coming weeks.

Wyndtree Drive Storm Water Improvements

The low, impervious area on Wyndtree Drive, just east of the Coast Guard Road terminus, is the next storm water location to be addressed by Public Works staff.  Public Works will install a small relay pump in an existing catch basin, and relay this water to the large storm water pump station at Island Circle, where it will then ultimately be pumped to Emerald Isle Woods Park. 

Sunset Lane Storm Water Improvements

This project is still in a holding pattern due to permitting issues, and Town staff are awaiting further input from the adjacent property owner’s engineer and NC Division of Coastal Management staff before constructing any improvements.

New Kayak Launch Device at Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area?

We are attempting to secure permission from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC Division of Coastal Management to install an aluminum kayak launching device in the southeast corner of the launch basin at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area.  The new feature would be similar to the existing kayak launch in Emerald Isle Woods Park. 

Entrance Channel Shoaling at Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area

I have received a concern about shoaling in the entrance channel where it reaches Bogue Sound.  I have asked the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to survey this area to determine if dredging is necessary.  If dredging is necessary, it is likely that the NCWRC would fund and coordinate this work.