June 13, 2017
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 – 9 pm at Bogue Inlet Pier
Town staff are preparing for the annual fireworks show, and we look forward to another great show over the beach. In the event of rain and/or excessive wind, the fireworks show will be rescheduled for July 5.
Abandoned Go-Kart / Bumper Boat Facility Clean-Up
The Town’s contractor, Watson’s Land Clearing, is making good progress on the clean-up, and expects to complete all work by the end of June, if not sooner.
Surfside Realty Tract Acquisition
I remain optimistic that the requested Federal ($1.5 million) and State ($1.045 million) grant funds will be awarded later this summer or early fall. Assuming necessary commitments are in hand by then, closing will occur in October. I hope to have a combination of Town staff and volunteers establish functional and attractive nature trails on the property sometime this winter, and then work with the Board and the community to determine future active recreational facilities in 2018.
Bogue Inlet Dredging
The Corps of Engineers is currently performing additional touch-up dredging work at the ocean bar and just off The Point in Emerald Isle. This work is expected to be complete by June 14, after which the US Coast Guard is expected to reinstall navigation aids in the entire Bogue Inlet channel.
Because all State-local funding for Bogue Inlet dredging was exhausted, and additional dredging was necessary to address shoaling, the Town agreed to provide $20,000 of emergency dredging funding to the Corps of Engineers last week. These Town funds leveraged an additional $40,000 from the State, resulting in a total of $60,000 that enabled the necessary dredging work to continue and be completed this week, and thus enable the reinstallation of navigation aids. A total of $10,000 of these funds will be remitted from the FY 16-17 budget, and the remaining $10,000 will be remitted from the FY 17-18 budget just after July 1.
The Town will need to organize another State-local funding partnership for future Bogue Inlet dredging, and I will begin work on this initiative in July or August. I expect that the State-local funding partnership will be structured in a similar manner as previous partnerships, and that the Town will receive the appropriate financial “credit” for the recent emergency contribution.
Beach Erosion Concerns
Several storms in April and May resulted in a flattened beach profile along much of the oceanfront in Emerald Isle, leaving a narrow “flat” beach between the water and the base of the dunes in some areas. We believe that this sand is sitting just offshore, and a significant sandbar is visible in many locations. We expect this sandbar to “weld” back onto the beach this summer, and thus restore a wider “flat” beach.
As you know, the Town (through the Carteret County Beach Commission / Shore Protection Office) collects and reviews very detailed annual beach profile surveys of the entire beach strand. Field work for this year’s survey was completed last month, and we expect to receive detailed survey results later this summer or fall. The surveys measure the full profile of the beach from the top of the dunes to several hundred feet underwater (which is a critical component for storm protection). If the survey results indicate that certain areas are approaching the established nourishment “trigger”, we will likely work toward a significant beach nourishment project during winter 2018-2019.
Although the flattening of the beach profile, and the resulting narrow “flat” beach strand is alarming, it is important to note that the beach remains in a much better condition than at many times in the past. The 2016 survey results indicated a healthy dune structure and a healthy underwater beach component, and there has been significant seaward dune migration in many places. In many places, the location of the dunes was previously the “flat” beach, and thus the erosion can be sometimes appear worse than it really is.
With all of that said, it will be important for the Town to review the survey results and continue to monitor the beach. The Town should be working to define a beneficial project scope over the next 6 – 8 months in order to be ready for a winter 2018-2019 beach nourishment event.
NC 58 Intersection Improvements
Mayor Barber (who serves on the Carteret County Transportation Committee and the Down East Rural Planning Organization) and I continue to work to secure State funding for traffic improvements at the 4 signalized intersections in Emerald Isle.
The next Statewide Transportation Planning process will begin later this year, and the 4 Emerald Isle projects have the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest “scores” of all Carteret County projects. Mayor Barber and I will continue to advocate for these projects in the planning process. We will also continue efforts to secure discretionary funding from the NC General Assembly for these improvements (and pedestrian crosswalk funding) with Representative McElraft and Senator Sanderson, and it is also possible that new funding programs currently being considered by the NC General Assembly and the NCDOT Secretary could provide necessary funding in the coming years.
Golf Cart Parking Concerns
As you know, Town staff routinely add additional golf cart parking spaces in the street right of way upon request, and there are now approximately 50 golf cart parking spaces at various public beach accesses in the Town. In some areas, we are experiencing very high golf cart usage (for example, Deer Horn Drive and Fawn Drive beach access walkways), with many more golf carts parking in the street right of way than there are official parking spaces. In some instances, this is causing concern from nearby property owners, and we are currently working to add a few more spaces in areas where sufficient right of way is available (but likely still won’t meet the peak demand due to a lack of suitable right of way). In some instances, golf cart owners who are not parked in an authorized golf cart parking spaces may receive a parking citation from EIPD.
Full Fleet of New Beach Wheelchairs
Thanks to the generosity of several local individuals in recent months (with approximately $20,000 worth of beach wheelchair equipment and cash donated), the EI Fire Department's popular beach wheelchair program is now stocked with a total of 12 specially-designed wheelchairs that enable disabled individuals to enjoy the beach and surf. The wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis each day at Fire Station 1, and are offered free of charge on a daily basis.
Kayak Storage Racks at EI Woods and EI Public Boating Access Area
The Parks and Recreation Department has installed new public kayak storage racks at Emerald Isle Woods Park and the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, and the new racks are available for public use on a first-come, first-served basis.
Employee / Citizen Recognition Program Being Developed
Town staff are currently reviewing a potential “employee / citizen recognition” program, and we may present a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at the July 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.
Coastal Storm Damage Prevention Fund in State Budget
The NC Senate and NC House are currently working to reach agreement on a compromise State budget for FY 17-18, and we expect a final State budget later this month. Both the Senate and House versions of the budget include the creation of a new “Coastal Storm Damage Prevention Fund” that would theoretically provide future State funding to assist local communities with beach nourishment. Neither budget includes appropriations to the new fund, however, the creation of this fund is great news for Emerald Isle and other beach communities. We are hopeful that State funding will be appropriated in the coming years, and that these funds will assist the Town with future beach nourishment projects.
School Calendar Pilot Program / Study in NC House Budget
Unfortunately, the NC House budget also includes a provision allowing 20 counties (from various areas of NC) 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 this provision will not be included in the final State budget approved later this month, as the NC Senate has steadfastly opposed any such school calendar changes in the past.
Senate Bill 126 – Sales Tax Redistribution
This bill remains in the House Rules Committee (and has been there since April 27), and neither the NC Senate or NC House budgets include this provision. We remain hopeful that the compromise State budget will also not include this provision.
Archers Creek West Stream Restoration Project Grant Awarded
The Town was recently notified that we’ve been awarded a $25,000 grant from the NC Division of Water Resources for this project, which would remove vegetative and other debris from the segment of Archers Creek that flows west from Old Ferry Road to Forest Hills Mobile Home Park and Bogue Sound. As you may recall, the neighborhoods along this segment of the creek are partnering with the Town on this project, and agreed to contribute half of the $25,000 local match. I am in the process of working with the neighborhoods to determine the appropriate allocation of costs among the neighborhoods, and hope to present a resolution accepting the grant to the Board at the July meeting. I expect this work to occur sometime this coming winter.
Fire Department Personnel Grant
As you know, the Town has requested Federal grant funding for 3 new firefighter positions, and the anticipated grant funds ($122,158) and required local match ($40,679) are included in the FY 17-18 budget. We have not yet received a decision on this grant request, however, we expect a decision sometime this summer. We remain optimistic that the requested grant funds will be awarded to the Town, and this will enable the Town to expand Fire Department staffing from 4 personnel per shift to 5 personnel.
Cape Emerald Pond Bulkhead
As you know, the FY 16-17 budget includes $32,500 for the replacement and expansion of the existing storm water discharge pipe from the Cape Emerald pond to Bogue Sound. As you know, this pond is part of the Town’s existing storm water system that serves the Ocean Oaks, Sea Dunes, and Deer Horn Dunes neighborhoods, and also receives overflow from the Emerald Isle Woods system.
The current pipe is 15” in diameter, and the Town has submitted a permit application to replace the pipe with a 24” pipe in an effort to address concerns from Cape Emerald residents about pond level fluctuation during heavy rainfall events. After several months of discussion, it appears that the State will not issue the necessary permit to expand the discharge pipe size, and I have been working with Cape Emerald POA leadership and others to develop an alternative approach to address their concerns. The best alternative to address the Cape Emerald concerns is the construction of a new bulkhead wall along the south side of the Cape Emerald pond, which would prevent pond bank erosion when pond levels fluctuate. I have secured a quote for $29,900 for the construction of an approximately 800 linear ft., 2 ft. high bulkhead in this area. If the Board consents, I plan to proceed with the construction of the new bulkhead and utilize the previously appropriated funds.
Please let me know your thoughts on this approach.
Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival – Saturday, September 30
Town staff will soon begin preparations and promotion for this event, which is now approximately 3 ½ months away. Last year’s event was a great success, and we hope to duplicate and exceed the crowd from last year’s event.
The Town had previously requested $35,000 from the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority for this event, however, the TDA recently approved only $20,000 toward this event. I am very disappointed in this decision, however, the Town should be still be able to produce this event with no or minimal cost to the Town. There is currently a balance of approximately $8,000 remaining from last year’s event, and I believe the additional $7,000 shortfall can be accommodated with additional event revenues and/or cost reductions, and still enable a high quality event.
New Cigarette Butt Receptacles
The NC Aquariums will soon install new cigarette butt receptacles at the Western Ocean Regional Access as part of a pilot program. I have attached a picture of the planned receptacles, and I am hopeful that they will be helpful in reducing the number of discarded cigarette butts on the beach strand.
Hubert Street Beach Access Walkway
The Town’s contractor continues work on this new beach access walkway, and we are hopeful that all work will be complete within the next week or two.
10th Street Partial Closure
Residents adjacent to 10th Street on the soundside (between Emerald Drive and the sound) are interested in the Town closing a portion of this street segment, and replacing it with a public water access easement. Because the street is not necessary in this area, and with the preservation of public access to Bogue Sound, Town staff are comfortable with this request. We are awaiting feedback from the nearby property owners, and may include a Resolution of Intent on an upcoming Board meeting agenda.
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.
Marsh Cove Road Street Request?
Residents in the Marsh Cove subdivision are considering asking the Town to assume public ownership and maintenance of Marsh Cove Road, and this request may be presented to the Board at a future meeting. Public Works Director Artie Dunn and I have reviewed the road condition, and don’t have any objection to Marsh Cove Road being added to the Town’s street network. The road is in generally good condition, and resurfacing is likely still many years away.
Condominium Deck Safety Program
Town Planner Josh Edmonson and representatives of several condominium complexes have completed the attached “Guidelines for Deck and Walkway Safety Initiative”, and the guidelines are now in use by Emerald Isle condominium complexes.
The condominium deck safety program is modeled after the deck inspection program implemented by Emerald Isle vacation rental agencies in 2015, but recognizes the collective nature of decks and walkways in condominium complexes, the different management structures and legal responsibilities, and the historical practices of the various condominium complexes in Emerald Isle. Thus, the attached condominium deck safety program does not include rigid requirements, but instead establishes guidelines, including the use of a professional engineer, record keeping, routine maintenance staff inspections, and annual reviews by the governing body of each condominium complex.
As is the case with the vacation rental deck inspection program, the Town will not be responsible for managing this program, however, Town staff and County inspectors will offer any assistance requested by the condominium complexes.
Commercial Village Zoning District
Town Planner Josh Edmondson will begin work with the Planning Board on specific development regulations for the proposed “Commercial Village” zoning district at its June meeting. This new district would encompass the current Business zoning district, and would allow the use of complementary residential uses on upper floors. We hope to present formal ordinance amendments to the Board of Commissioners later this summer.
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.
I have not yet had an opportunity to devote time to this effort, and likely will not be able offer this survey online this summer. I will continue to work toward such a survey for the future.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Campaign
EIPD, along with other law enforcement agencies in Carteret County, is participating in the "Watch for Me NC" campaign ( http://www.watchformenc.org/ ) to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety. The "Watch for Me NC" program aims to reduce pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths through a comprehensive, targeted approach of public education and police enforcement.
Driveway Widths, Right of Way Parking Inventory
The Town’s ordinances limit residential driveway widths to 16 ft., and allow a maximum of 2 driveways per unit. As you have likely noticed, there are some residential properties establishing additional residential parking spaces in the public street right of way (primarily on Ocean Drive). Although some of these include attractive landscape features, they are not permitted under the Town’s ordinances and Town staff have received complaints.
Ryan Staebler, Planning Intern, is working with Town Planner Josh Edmondson to prepare an inventory of these features so that we can get a better handle on the magnitude of this issue. Depending on the results of the inventory, we may begin working with property owners to have the parking areas modified or removed, or may recommend an ordinance amendment to the Board of Commissioners in the future.
Sound Drive Pavement Repairs
There are a few significant “dips” in the asphalt on Sound Drive near the marina, and Public Works will be working to repair those areas in the next few weeks.
New Beach Swing at the Western Ocean Regional Access
The new beach swing installed near the base of the dunes at the Western Ocean Regional Access is getting a lot of use, and we’ve had a few inquiries from property owners interested in sponsoring a beach swing at other accesses. However, we were recently informed by NC Division of Coastal Management staff that we will either need to remove the swing, modify it to be “moveable” (install skids?), or seek a variance from the NC Coastal Resources Commission. Town staff are still evaluating these options, and NC DCM staff will not require the Town to remove the WORA beach swing until we decide on the best course of action.
Comprehensive Land Use Plan
The NC Division of Coastal Management has completed its second review of the Town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (that addressed earlier comments from NC DCM), and has now requested additional clarification on a few items in the plan. Town Planner Josh Edmondson and the Town’s consultant are working to respond to this request. We hope to resolve these concerns and present a final version of the plan for formal Board approval at the July or August meeting.