July 10, 2018

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

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

August Regular Meeting Date – Monday, August 13

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.     

Rezoning – McLean-Spell Park from Residential Multi-Family to Government

The Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners will soon consider the formal rezoning of the McLean-Spell Park property from RMF zoning (allows single-family homes, duplexes, and condominiums) to the Government zoning district.  This rezoning is a procedural issue for the sake of consistency only, as the recorded easements and restrictions will govern any future development on the McLean-Spell Park property.  This rezoning will likely appear on the Board’s August or September meeting agenda.

McLean-Spell Park Pedestrian Bridge / Dedication Ceremony

We are still working to finalize the design and cost of the new pedestrian bridge over Archers Creek that will connect the Community Center parking lot with McLean-Spell Park.  We expect to finalize the details in the next week or so, and hopefully begin construction later this month. 

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has agreed to fund the cost of the new pedestrian bridge, and we appreciate their support.  Once the new bridge is completed, we will reschedule the formal dedication ceremony for the new park.  The ceremony will likely be held in mid / late August or early September.

Islander Drive Land Sale / Redevelopment Plans

A-Team Enterprises continues to work on detailed design for the planned mixed-use project on Islander Drive, and the closing on the land sale is still on track for late August. 

Islander Drive / Western Ocean Regional Access Improvements

I continue to work with Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative and adjacent property owners to develop a menu of potential improvements to present to the Board.  I hope to present potential improvements to the Board at the September Board meeting.  I will likely solicit the assistance of Ark Consulting, Greenville, NC, for engineering issues and artists’ renderings for the Board and the public to review.

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 would require significant retaining wall segments due to the topography and existing large trees.  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.

Concerns have been received from a few property owners in the Osprey Ridge townhouses, and we will be meeting with those property owners in the coming weeks.  There appears to be sufficient public right-of-way along Coast Guard Road, and we do not envision the golf cart path encroaching on Osprey Ridge private property.  Special consideration will be given to preserve the existing large trees and berm in the public right-of-way in this area in order to maintain a buffer for nearby residents and the aesthetic value.

The Golf Cart Advisory Committee’s goal is to enable golf carts to cross Coast Guard Road from Bell Cove Shopping Center to Reed Drive to legally travel to points east (and vice versa).  Concerns have been raised about the safety of golf carts crossing at this location, however, golf carts have routinely (and legally) crossed at this location for several years.  Police Chief Reese and I will be working with the Golf Cart Advisory Committee to identify any helpful safety features if this project proceeds. 

Any recommendation by the Golf Cart Advisory Committee to proceed with construction would likely be formally presented to the Board of Commissioners for consideration later this year or in 2019.

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.  I will be meeting with Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative in July to explore the potential for broadband partnerships with the electric cooperative.

I still have much to learn on this issue, but am working toward inviting various industry experts and/or other officials with experience in this issue to address the Board at an upcoming Town meeting.

Town Banner Program

Thus far, the 4 new test banners on decorative light poles near the Town Government Complex seem to be holding up well.  Assuming that remains the case, and Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative is comfortable with widespread installation of banners on all decorative street light poles, we expect to proceed with the new banner program this fall and winter.  Funding will be sought from the Tourism Development Authority, and a banner sponsor program will be implemented for Emerald Isle businesses and individuals to sponsor a banner.  We expect to place approximately 50 banners on decorative light poles along NC 58 and Bogue Inlet Drive. 

Friday Beach Access Parking Fees

The Town began collecting regional access parking fees on Friday, July 6, and will continue charging for parking on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through September 16.  The Town will also charge on Labor Day Monday.

Pickleball Court Plans

The FY 18-19 budget includes a total of $25,000 for the construction of at least one (perhaps two?) pickleball court(s) at the Town Government Complex.  Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, and I will be working to complete this project this winter.  The likely location for the new pickleball court(s) is the area between the existing tennis courts and the Police Station parking lot.

Fire Station 1 Expansion / Renovation

I plan to begin more focused efforts on this project this fall, and hope to have the Board finalize the design approach in early 2019 so any budget impacts can be factored into the FY 19-20 budget. 

NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive Intersection Improvements

NCDOT continues to refine options for intersection improvements at the NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive intersection, and is currently reviewing traffic signal / turn lane improvements and re-assessing the feasibility of a single-lane roundabout at this location.  I expect NCDOT to complete their review and analysis by the end of the summer, and present options to the public and the Board this fall.

NC 58 Landscape Uplighting Near Bridge

Unfortunately, this work has been delayed due to workload and scheduling issues with the underground boring contractor retained by Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative.  The contractor will bore a new electric line under NC 58 to allow for landscape uplighting on both sides of NC 58 near the bridge.  Once the underground boring work is complete, it should only take a few days to complete the remaining work.  I remain hopeful that the new uplighting will be functional by the end of July.

LED Street Light Concerns

Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative has been gradually switching high pressure sodium and metal halide lights to new LED lights throughout the Town.  The new LED lights are much more energy-efficient and have a white light color, but are also brighter and generating some concerns from nearby property owners.  Artie Dunn, Public Works Director, and I will be meeting with Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative officials to explore different methods to modify the LED light fixtures to reduce the impacts on nearby property owners. 

Old Circle Pizza Building

Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, continues to work with the owner of this abandoned building near the Ocean Drive “dog-leg” to improve the appearance of this property.  The owner has decided to complete exterior renovations of the building, and is currently working with a contractor to finalize plans. 

Adopt A Street / Adopt A Beach Program Update

This new program was initiated in May, and we now have 3 participants in the Adopt A Street program and 7 participants in the Adopt A Beach program.  Signs recognizing the various participants are beginning to be installed in these areas.

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival – Saturday, September 29

Town staff continue planning efforts for the 3rd annual re-boot of the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival on the beach at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  Sponsorship opportunities are now available, and interested businesses should contact Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director.

Flashing Beacons To Be Added to New Pedestrian Crosswalks

NCDOT has completed pavement markings and sidewalk work associated with the 3 new pedestrian crosswalks on NC 58 (Islander Drive, Town Government Complex, and Ocean Drive “dog-leg”), and will soon be installing new, push-button flashing beacons at each location.  NCDOT is currently working to identify a vendor and contractor for the new beacons, and I am hopeful that the new beacons will be installed in the coming weeks.

NC 58 Bridge Guardrails

NCDOT awarded a contract for this work in summer 2017, with work on the Atlantic Beach bridge scheduled for fall / winter 2017-18, and work on the Emerald Isle bridge scheduled for fall / winter 2018-19.  I am expecting NCDOT’s contractor to begin work on the Emerald Isle NC 58 bridge guardrails (and additional work underneath the bridge) this fall, and I am attempting to receive confirmation of planned start dates.  This project should only involve minor traffic disruption, however, the bridge will likely be reduced to one lane for limited periods of time.  I will provide more information as the contractor’s plans are finalized.

EIFD Still Investigating Motorized Water Rescue Devices

The Fire Department had identified a new motorized water rescue board for potential application in the Town’s Lifeguard Program, however, they have decided not to purchase this device after learning more about the product and speaking with other users.  The Fire Department continues to investigate new technology to improve safety and response times to swimmers in distress, and we hope to identify a new device before the 2019 summer season.

Lifeguards Offering “Water Safety Splash” Classes Every Saturday at Western Ocean Regional Access – 11 am

The Town’s Lifeguard Program is offering weekly safety classes every Saturday morning at the WORA (under the picnic shelter) for anyone interested.  Classes began on June 23 and will continue through July 28.  Unfortunately, attendance thus far has been minimal, but we are hopeful that future sessions will result in more attendees.

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 or fall after the new committee has refined the overall scope of the new tournament and better identified funding needs.

Bogue Inlet Dredging

Fortunately, Bogue Inlet remains in relatively good shape, and I have not learned of any complaints or concerns from the boating and fishing community.  The US Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to complete a new condition survey in the coming weeks, and if that survey confirms reasonable navigation conditions, I may ask them to delay any dredging work until later this fall or even next spring in an effort to save State-local funds.  I will provide copies of the updated condition survey after the US Army Corps of Engineers completes its work.

New US House Bill Removes Proposed CBRA Zone for Bogue Inlet Area

HR 5787 – Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018 – was introduced in May as the presumed vehicle to implement new Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) maps developed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The CBRA mapping study was completed in 2016, and unfortunately included the creation of a new CBRA “system unit” in the Bogue Inlet area. 

The Town expressed concerns that this new CBRA “system unit” designation could make it more difficult / expensive and perhaps impossible for the Town to complete future inlet channel realignment projects and use sand dredged from Bogue Inlet for future beach nourishment projects.  Thanks to Congressman Walter Jones, HR 5787 specifically removes the proposed Bogue Inlet “system unit” from consideration.  This is good news, and we will continue to monitor the status of HR 5787 as it moves through the Federal legislative process.  We are hopeful that HR 5787 will ultimately be enacted into law, and/or that Bogue Inlet is never designated as a CBRA “system unit”.  

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.  With the busy summer season in full swing, this project will not begin until this fall or winter.

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 have submitted a CAMA permit modification request for the installation of a new 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.  We believe this permit modification will be approved, and we will then work to identify sufficient funds (approximately $5,000 – $7,000) for this project.  At least one nearby property owner has expressed interest in contributing to this project, and the Town may also be able to secure grant funds.  Our goal is to add this feature prior to the 2019 tourism season.   

Entrance Channel Shoaling at Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area

NC Wildlife Resources Commission staff have surveyed the entrance channel shoaling at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, and have indicated that it does not yet warrant dredging.  NC WRC staff will continue to monitor this area, and may proceed with touch-up dredging in this area in the future if / when necessary.