November 13, 2018
MEMO TO: Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners
FROM: Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager
SUBJECT: Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report
My Last Day / Interim Town Manager
My last day of employment with the Town will be Wednesday, November 21, and I will be working hard over the next week+ to assist the Interim Town Manager and Town staff carry various projects and initiatives forward in the coming months.
I am pleased that my friend and colleague Randy Martin will be serving as Interim Town Manager until the Board appoints a new Town Manager sometime next spring. Randy is a knowledgeable, experienced manager who I know will fit in well in our organization and our community for the next several months. The Town is fortunate to have his service in this role.
I will speak with each of you and many in the Town organization and the Emerald Isle community in the coming days to say farewell, but I wanted to formally thank each of you, the entire Town staff, and the great people in our community people for making my time in Emerald Isle such a rewarding, memorable, and meaningful experience. I am forever grateful for the support you’ve shown me and my family over the past 17 ½ years, and I will always cherish my time in Emerald Isle. It is truly an exceptional place and an exceptional community of people. Nice Matters!
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)
Due to the impacts and workload associated with Hurricane Florence, preparation of the June 30, 2018 financial statements and CAFR has been delayed. Town staff hope to have this document ready for discussion with the Audit Committee in December and formal presentation to the Board in January. We are pleased that the Town ended FY 17-18 in an overall favorable financial position.
Debris Collection Efforts Nearly Complete
The Town’s debris contractors are finally nearing the end of this process, and are focused on clearing construction & demolition debris from the few remaining clusters in central and eastern Emerald Isle. I am hopeful that all debris collection efforts will cease by or soon after the November 13 meeting, and I look forward to fully releasing the contractor.
The Board and the public should note that because it is difficult for the contractors’ equipment to collect small pieces of construction & demolition debris, it may be necessary for property owners to rake up remaining debris and deposit it in the trash container for collection with household garbage.
Construction & demolition debris removal is now the practical and financial responsibility of the private property owner. Public Works staff will continue to collect vegetative debris and discarded appliances as part of the Town’s normal collection efforts.
As of November 7, the contractor has collected more than 154,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris and nearly 40,000 cubic yards of construction & demolition debris. Public Works staff have also collected approximately 2,500 cubic yards of vegetative debris and more than 150 discarded appliances. The Town’s total debris collection expense is approximately $1.7 million thus far.
FEMA Reimbursement Process
Finance Director Laura Rotchford will be coordinating the Town’s FEMA reimbursement process, with the assistance of various Town staff. Town staff have been documenting all storm-related expenses since before Florence arrived, and we are confident that the Town will be reimbursed for nearly all storm-related expenses. The workload associated with the FEMA reimbursement process is significant, and I have authorized a temporary full-time position to assist Laura with this process. We will be seeking to have this personnel expense reimbursed by FEMA also.
Potential Hazard Mitigation Projects
Town staff have had preliminary discussions with FEMA personnel, and will be further exploring a pilot program whereby FEMA will award a negotiated, fixed amount for storm-related infrastructure repairs. Under this program, FEMA and the Town negotiate a fixed dollar amount, and any cost overages are the responsibility of the Town. However, any cost savings also revert to the Town, and may be used for eligible mitigation projects.
If the Town is fortunate to participate in this program and has the opportunity to use cost savings for mitigation projects, the Board may wish to consider the following:
- replacement of the Police Station / Town Board Meeting roof with a new pitch roof,
- installation of additional fixed storm water pumps and/or purchase of additional portable storm water pumps,
- installation of fixed generators at electric storm water pump locations and/or purchase of portable generators,
- purchase of land for a future off-island emergency operations center,
- purchase of a satellite internet receiver,
- relocation of the Parks Maintenance storage building, and/or
- other items that improve the Town’s preparedness and resiliency for future storms.
Emerald Isle Woods Park / McLean-Spell Park Clean Up
Parks and Recreation Director Alesia Sanderson is coordinating the bid process for the clean-up of significant tree damage, and has been struggling to identify interested contractors. We hope to have a contractor on board in the coming days and at least make portions of each park more usable in the near future. Emerald Isle Woods Park remains closed, and McLean-Spell Park is to be used at the individual’s own risk.
Restoration of Lands End Dunes Damaged by Town Pumping
The Town has retained SunLand Builders to restore sand dunes in Lands End that were damaged by storm water pumping operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. We expect work to begin one day during the week of November 12. This expense is expected to be reimbursed by FEMA.
NC 58 Decorative Light Repair
The Town has requested that Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative repair damaged decorative lights and poles along the NC 58 corridor, and we are hopeful that this work will occur in the coming days. With the exception of the removal of a few down trees in the NC 58 right of way near the Emerald Isle bridge and the replacement of one way-finding sign, the repair of the decorative lights and poles is the final task to restore the NC 58 corridor back to its pre-storm condition.
Town Banner Program
As discussed previously, the Town planned to implement a new banner program this winter and spring. At the request of Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative, the Town installed 4 test banners on decorative light poles this summer near the Town Administration Building to assess their durability during wind events. Unfortunately, the banners did not hold up well during Hurricane Florence. Commissioner Finch and I are scheduled to meet with Carteret-Craven staff on November 20 to discuss this issue. We are hopeful that a banner removal plan prior to future hurricanes, along with a Town commitment to cover damage associated with the banners will result in Carteret-Craven allowing the installation of new banners on all decorative light poles. If Carteret-Craven grants permission, the Town should work toward securing funding from the Tourism Development Authority and other sponsors to purchase the new banners.
Downtown Light Conversion - LED
The FY 18-19 budget includes funding to convert existing high pressure sodium lights in the downtown area to LED. I expect that this work will be delayed until spring 2019.
Beach Driving Hours Back to Normal
Beach debris cleanup continues, however, the contractor has made sufficient progress to enable the Town to resume normal beach driving hours. Beginning Saturday, November 10, normal beach driving hours are in effect. The beach is open to driving from 5 am – 7 pm daily.
Several Beach and Sound Access Points Remain Closed
Town staff continue to work to clean up damaged access points, complete smaller repairs, and secure contractors. The following beach and sound access points remain closed at this time:
Beach Walkways Closed
Sound Access Points Closed
13th Street (missing boat dock)
Steps & Platform closed at Park Street
EI Woods Park
Coyote Trapping to Resume in December
The Police Department will again coordinate the Town’s coyote trapping program this winter. Licensed trappers will be trapping coyotes between December 1 and February 28 (the authorized trapping season) on certain Town-owned parcels in areas not frequented by the public. Interested property owners may also contact the Police Department to arrange for coyote trapping on private property.
No Controlled Deer Hunt This Winter
Due to Hurricane Florence, the planned deer population count did not occur this fall. The Board may recall that the NC Wildlife Resources Commission estimated a total deer population of 48 deer in September 2017, and because this count was the lowest in many years, the Town did not conduct a controlled hunt last winter. Because the deer population is still believed to be relatively low, no controlled deer hunt will be conducted this winter. Town staff will arrange for a new deer population count in September 2019.
McLean-Spell Park Pedestrian Bridge
The Town’s contractor has re-initiated work on the construction of the new pedestrian bridge, and we hope to have the bridge completed later this month.
McLean-Spell Park Dedication Ceremony
Town staff are still planning a formal dedication ceremony for the new McLean-Spell Park to celebrate this nice addition to the Town’s park facilities. The ceremony will be scheduled after the new pedestrian bridge is complete and all tree debris has been cleaned up in the park. The ceremony will be important to celebrate this new facility, thank Representative McElraft for her assistance, recognize the McLean and Spell families, thank the officials at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and recognize Eagle Scout Jack McCabe for his efforts to improve nature trails.
Pickleball Court Construction Delayed
Due to the need to focus on more pressing hurricane recovery tasks, the planned construction of one or two new pickleball courts has been delayed until fall 2019. The FY 18-19 budget includes a total of $25,000 for this work.
Bogue Inlet Navigation Maintenance Dredging
The US Army Corps of Engineers completed navigation maintenance dredging in the Bogue Inlet connecting channel and across the ocean bar in early September, and these channels remain in good shape after Hurricane Florence. The State-local partnership account currently has a balance of approximately $100,000, and these funds will be available for future dredging efforts by the US Army Corps of Engineers. There is also the potential for Federal dredging funds to be included in a supplemental hurricane appropriations bill, and the Town should monitor these efforts accordingly in the future.
NC 58 Traffic Camera
NCDOT staff have provided additional information regarding the requested NC 58 traffic camera, and have estimated a total cost of $12,000 for this project. Due to Hurricane Florence, and more pressing issues for NCDOT, I have not pursued this issue recently. I recommend that Interim Town Manager Randy Martin pursue this issue with NCDOT staff and/or NC Board of Transportation member Gus Tulloss and/or Representative McElraft sometime after the new year.
Flashing Beacons at NC 58 Crosswalks
At Representative McElraft’s request, NCDOT still intends to install flashing beacons at the new crosswalks. Due to Hurricane Florence, and more pressing issues for NCDOT, I have not pursued this issue recently. I recommend that Interim Town Manager Randy Martin pursue this issue with NCDOT staff and/or Representative McElraft sometime after the new year.
NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive Intersection Improvements
Interim Town Manager Randy Martin and I are scheduled to meet with NCDOT staff and consultants on November 16 to review additional options to improve this intersection. Due to various obstacles, it is possible that no improvements or only minor improvements will be possible at this intersection in the future.
There is a very slim possibility that NCDOT may consider a full-size roundabout at this location, however it is unlikely. There may be an opportunity for the Town to submit a special request to NCDOT leadership to convert this project into a new traffic signal / right turn lane improvement project, however, the Town’s chances for converting the project are highly uncertain due to the nature of the NCDOT funding process. If neither of these options is feasible, it is likely that no improvements will occur at this intersection for many years.
NC 58 Bridge Work
NC 58 bridge work was disrupted by Hurricane Florence, and I am not certain how Florence has impacted the overall schedule. I had been anticipating the installation of the new bridge guardrail later this winter or spring, however, I have not yet received feedback from NCDOT staff on whether or not this work is likely to occur or not. It may be pushed back to fall 2019.
Relocation of Marked Navigation Channel in Bogue Sound
As discussed previously with the Board, I have been working with NC Wildlife Resources Commission staff to explore the potential relocation of the marked navigation channel in Bogue Sound in the 7000 block. Two potential alternate routes further away from the homes on Sound Drive are being considered, however, the likelihood of each of these routes being approved is likely slim.
I was scheduled to tour this area with State officials in September, but that tour was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. I am attempting to reschedule this meeting before my final day of work, however, it may be necessary for Interim Town Manager Randy Martin to pursue this after my departure.
Gigabyte Level Fiber To The Home
Commissioner Normile and I are scheduled to meet again on November 14 with representatives from ATMC, a community cooperative that provides fiber to the home in Brunswick County.
Advisory Committee Meetings Cancelled for Remainder of Year
Due to lingering Hurricane Florence impacts and the upcoming holidays, the Golf Cart Advisory Committee, Dog Park Development Committee, and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will not meet again until January.