Emerald Tidings

December 2010

  1. Town Will NOT Implement Solid Waste Fee / Property Tax Switch
  2. Town Working To Identify Budget Reductions
  3. Additional Multi-Use Path Extensions Planned
  4. New Deer Population Estimate Shows Decrease
  5. NC 58 Turn Lane and Resurfacing Work
  6. New Golf Cart Program
  7. Construction Continues on New Public Boat Launching Facility
  8. Wood Island Munitions Removal Complete
  9. Jennette's Aquarium Pier Nearing Completion in Nags Head
  10. Mayor Schools Ascends to Leadership Position with NCLM
  11. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Town Will NOT Implement Solid Waste Fee / Property Tax Switch

After much public input and a thorough review of the issues, the Board of Commissioners has decided NOT to implement the solid waste fee / property tax switch that was discussed in recent months.  The switch would have eliminated the annual $180 solid waste fee charged to owners of all developed residential properties and replaced it with an equivalent 2.8 cent property tax rate increase, and would have preserved formula-based sales tax revenues for the Town.  The Board cited tax fairness concerns in reaching this decision at their November meeting.  

The Town still expects to experience an approximately $425,000 shortfall in sales tax revenues next year.  This shortfall is not caused by the economic downturn or Town spending, but rather is the result of the way the sales tax distribution formula works in Carteret County.  This shortfall is the equivalent of 1-cent on the Town's property tax rate.  Town staff and the Board will be considering budget and service reductions over the coming months in an effort to address this shortfall and minimize the amount of any property tax rate increase in FY 11-12, which begins in July 2011. 

Town Working to Identify Budget and Service Reductions

Suggestions Welcome!

The FY 11-12 budget begins on July 1, 2011, and the Board will adopt the new budget in June 2011.  Town staff and the Board are already hard at work on next year's budget in an attempt to balance the budget with minimal impacts on the General Fund property tax rate and on Town services. 

If you have ideas on how the Town should adjust, reduce, or eliminate services and spending, we want to hear them.  Please send any suggestions to Town Manager Frank Rush at frush@emeraldisle-nc.org .  The Town welcomes all suggestions, and they will be thoroughly considered over the coming months. 

Please note that the Town has already delayed new capital projects, and is currently only pursuing capital projects that are primarily funded by outside grants, contributions, and donations.  Examples of projects funded primarily by outside funds include the new public boat launching facility, multi-use (bicycle) path improvements, and park improvements.   

Additional Multi-Use Path (Bicycle Path) Extensions Planned

Funded Primarily By Grants, Donations, and Fundraising Activities

Thanks to additional grant funding from the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the hard work of the Town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and others on fundraising activities, the Town will soon construct two new segments of the multi-use path (bicycle path) in Emerald Isle.

The Town will primarily utilize funds raised by the Committee and others to extend the Coast Guard Road path from its current terminus at Deer Horn Drive to the entrance to Emerald Isle Woods Park, an additional .3 miles.  This work is expected to be completed in spring 2011 in time for the 2011 tourism season.  This segment will make is safer and easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to access the park. 

The Town will utilize yet another grant from NCDOT to construct an additional .2 miles of the NC 58 path from the Ocean Drive intersection east to the Eastern Ocean Regional Access (and future site of the Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle).  This work is also expected to be completed in spring 2011.  This segment will make is safer and easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to visit the beach access.

The Town continues its aggressive pursuit of grant funding and its support for community fundraising efforts to ultimately achieve our goal of a dedicated path through the entire Town on NC 58 and Coast Guard Road.

New Deer Population Estimate Shows Decrease

The Town has been working in conjunction with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor the deer population in Emerald Isle in recent years, and just completed a new deer population survey in October.  The 2010 survey estimates a total deer population of approximately 105 deer.  This figure is down from the 2009 estimate of approximately 149 deer. 

As a result of this new population estimate, the Town will not be conducting any deer population reduction activities this year.  The Town will continue to monitor the deer population in the future, and may resume deer population reduction activities in the future. 

NC 58 Turn Lane and Resurfacing Work

The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has awarded a contract to Onslow Grading and Paving, Jacksonville, NC, for the resurfacing of NC 58 along its entire length in Emerald Isle.  The project also includes the construction of a new left turn lane at the entrance to the new public boat launching facility and Scotch Bonnet Drive.

Work began in December, and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2011.  NCDOT, Onslow Grading and Paving, will be working hard to minimize community disruption as much as practical, however, motorists and residents should expect some minor inconveniences.  

The Town is grateful to NCDOT for funding and arranging this work, which will be a great improvement for Emerald Isle. 

New Golf Cart Program

Effective January 1, 2011, the use of golf carts will be allowed on most public streets in Emerald Isle if they are registered with the Town and meet certain safety standards.

Under relatively new authority from the NC General Assembly, the Board of Commissioners adopted a Town golf cart ordinance at their meeting in October.  The new ordinance allows the operation of golf carts on all public streets in Emerald Isle, with the exception of NC 58 and Coast Guard Road.  Golf carts will be allowed to cross directly over NC 58 and Coast Guard Road, but golf carts will not be allowed to travel on these two busy roads. 

In order to register a golf cart in the Town's program, the golf cart must include certain required safety equipment, including headlights, tail lights, blinkers, brake lights, windshields, seatbelts, and others.  The golf cart must be registered to an Emerald Isle address, and the operator must be a licensed driver AND at least 18 years of age.  The Emerald Isle Police Department will vigorously enforce the prohibition on underage golf cart drivers, and will also pursue charges against any adult who allows an underage golf cart driver. 

Golf carts will be subject to all other NC motor vehicle laws and regulations, and will be subject to the same parking regulations as traditional motor vehicles.  The Town will, however, be creating special "golf-cart only" parking spaces at select public beach access locations in the future on a case-by-case basis.

The new ordinance does not apply to "street-legal" golf carts registered with the NC Division of Motor Vehicles, as these vehicles are treated in the same manner as a traditional motor vehicle.  The new ordinance also does not apply to golf carts used by handicapped individuals as a mobility device, provided the operator has a valid handicapped placard and card in his / her possession.

Please visit the Town Administration Building during normal business hours to register your golf cart with the Town.  A golf cart application and a complete explanation of the rules and regulations is available at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/golfcarts.htm .

Construction Continues on New Public Boat Launching Facility

Should Be Complete by April 2011 Construction of the new public boat launching facility, located on Bogue Sound near Chapel By The Sea, has been underway since late October and continues. 
  NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC) staff recently placed the underwater sections of the new ramps in the water, and have completed other dock improvements.  Additional ramp construction remains, and will continue over the coming weeks. 

SunLand Development and Construction, under contract to NC WRC, has begun work on the parking lot and storm water improvements. Their contract requires all work to be complete by late March.

The new facility is expected to open to the public sometime in April 2011.

Wood Island Munitions Removal Complete

MCAS Cherry Point and the US Navy have completed an effort to remove old munitions and fragments from the surface of Wood Island, a bomb target used in the 1940s and 1950s.  Wood Island, also known as Cat Island, is located in Bogue Sound approximately 1/2 mile offshore from 23rd Street in Emerald Isle. 

The removal effort was conducted from late October until mid-November.  No controlled detonations were needed to destroy any munitions items. The recovered metallic debris has been shipped to metal recycling facilities. 

Although the surface of Wood Island has been cleared, numerous munitions-related items remain in the surrounding waters.  It is possible that additional items will be exposed by wave and tidal action over time and will need to be removed in the future.

Wood Island is posted with danger signs.  For your own safety, please do not anchor boats near Wood Island, or go onto the island at any time.

Jennette's Aquarium Pier Nearing Completion in Nags Head

Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle is Next In Line

The Town continues to work closely with the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on the design of the future Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle, a new 1,000 ft. long concrete ocean fishing pier to be constructed in the future at the site of the Eastern Ocean Regional Access (and former site of the old Emerald Isle Pier).  The Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle is the second of three planned State-owned fishing piers along the NC coast, with the first currently nearing completion in Nags Head and the third targeted for Carolina Beach.

Town officials recently visited the Jennette's Aquarium Pier in Nags Head, which is pictured below. 

The new facility, funded by the State, is expected to open to the public in May 2011.  Upon completion, full efforts will be devoted to arranging State financing for the construction of the Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle.  Although the current State budget crisis will delay the start of construction for an indefinite period, this project remains a top priority for the Town and the NC Aquariums, and we will be working hard to realize this dream in the future.

The design of the Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle should be complete in spring 2011, and a public informational meeting will be scheduled at that time.  Additionally, the State is in the final stages of acquiring additional land for the project adjacent to Flip-Flops Mini-Mart.  The NC Aquariums and the Town are also seeking grant funding for planned soundside improvements in this area, and hope to construct these improvements in the next year.

Mayor Schools Ascends to Leadership Position with NC League of Municipalities

Mayor Schools was recently elected 2nd Vice President of the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM), a nonpartisan association that advocates for cities and towns at both the State and Federal levels, and also provides direct services to NC cities and towns.

Mayor Schools has previously served as a member of the NCLM Board of Directors representing cities and towns in the central coastal region, and hopes to eventually serve as President of this organization.  We are proud of Mayor Schools and look forward to his leadership for this important organization!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We are all so fortunate to enjoy this wonderful place!

Frank A. Rush, Jr.
Town Manager
Posted by Frank Rush Wednesday, December 1, 2010 4:23:00 PM