- FY 2007-2008 - THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The Town of Emerald Isle continually strives to "make Emerald Isle an even better place than it already is", and FY 2007-2008 was another successful and productive year for the Town. The Town continued its commitment to high quality services for our residents, businesses, and visitors, and undertook major initiatives intended to maintain and improve our excellent quality of life in the future.
The Town celebrated its 50th Birthday in 2007, and we are all proud that the Town continues to be a very desirable place to live, work, and visit. It took the collective efforts of many people over the years to make Emerald Isle the great place that it is, and all of us at the Town are working hard to build upon that success and make Emerald Isle even better in the future.
The Mayor, Board of Commissioners, Planning Board members, advisory committees, Town Manager, Town staff, and many concerned citizens remain committed to the continued success of Emerald Isle. We are proud of our collective accomplishments - for you - during the past year, and look forward to another prosperous and productive year in FY 2008-2009!
Highlights of the past fiscal year (July 1, 2007 - June 30, 2008) included the following:
Emerald Isle Celebrated Its 50th Birthday!
The Town celebrated 50 years of incorporation as a municipality on July 1, 2007. The Town has come a long way since that time, growing from just a few scattered homes and 14 permanent residents to more than 6,000 housing units and nearly 4,000 permanent residents! At the peak of the summer season, Emerald Isle now welcomes more than 40,000 people to our beautiful beaches! The total value of Emerald Isle is in excess of $4.2 billion - considerably more than the $350,000 paid for the land in the Town by the original developers!
The Town is fortunate to have been served by many dedicated people over the years who made sure that Emerald Isle developed in a quality manner. The Town continues to be a wonderful "Family Beach" today, and values its "small-town atmosphere" and the surrounding natural environment above all else. We all look forward to an even better next 50 years!
The Town celebrated this milestone with events throughout 2007, culminating with a grand event held on September 22, 2007. A great crowd enjoyed the day-long celebration held on the NC 58 right-of-way near Emerald Plantation Shopping Center with great concert acts, a classic car show, volleyball tournament, kids rides, and a beer garden. A special coffee-table book documenting Emerald Isle's history was also prepared, and a time capsule was assembled to be opened by the Mayor in 2057 at Emerald Isle's 100th birthday!
Quality Employees Providing Quality Services - For You
The entire Town staff is committed to serving you in the best way possible, and our employees work hard to maintain and improve our beautiful town. Although there is always room for improvement, the Town is fortunate to employ a quality staff of committed people.
The various Town departments continued to provide the high quality, responsive, and courteous daily services that our residents, businesses, and visitors deserve in Emerald Isle over the past year. These daily services that are sometimes taken for granted include emergency response, fire inspections, police patrol, garbage collection, park maintenance, recreation programs, public-area landscaping, street maintenance, building inspections, beach access maintenance, general administration, and many others.
The Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle is On Its Way!
The Town remains committed to insuring the perpetual existence of a public ocean fishing pier in Emerald Isle, and worked in close partnership with the NC Aquariums throughout the past year to develop a strategy for the future "Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle". This hard work paid off in April 2008 when the partnership was awarded a $2.2 million grant from the NC Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund for the project. The grant will fund detailed site planning, design, and site improvements for the new ocean fishing pier to be constructed at the Town's Eastern Ocean Regional Access (site of the former Emerald Isle Pier).
The Town will donate the land for the project, and the NC Aquariums will construct the new 1,000 ft. long concrete pier and state-of-the-art pier house over the next several years. The new pier house will include traditional pier house amenities, and will also include NC Aquarium exhibits and public meeting and educational facilities. The target date for completion of the new facility is 2012, and the project will be financed with future Aquarium admission receipts and additional grant funding. The total estimated cost of construction is estimated at more than $12 million.
The Town is extremely proud of the project, and could not ask for a better partner than the NC Aquariums. We look forward to making this project a reality over the next several years!
New EMS Station Nearly Complete
The Town partnered with Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. on the construction of a new EMS Station to be located on Town property adjacent to Fire Station 1. The total construction cost is $775,000, and is financed with contributions from the Town and Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. Construction began in December 2007 and is nearly complete. Emerald Isle EMS expects to occupy the new building in September 2008.
The new station includes 5,000 sq. ft. of space, with 3 ambulance bays, offices, bunk rooms, a training room, and more. The new station replaces the existing station on Cedar Street, a converted beach house used for the past two decades. Emerald Isle is fortunate to be served by a dedicated group of EMS volunteers and paid personnel, and the new station will help to insure that our residents and visitors enjoy the best possible emergency medical care in the future.
The new EMS Station has been dedicated in honor of George Foster, a key member of Emerald Isle EMS since its inception and a valuable member of the Emerald Isle community. Bluewater Builders, an Emerald Isle company, is the general contractor.
New Police Station Completed
The Emerald Isle Police Department moved into a newly renovated and expanded Police Station in December 2007. The new station occupies approximately 5,000 sq. ft. in the Town Hall building that was formerly occupied by both Police and administrative staff. The total cost of the project was approximately $330,000.
The new station eliminated cramped conditions in the old Police Station and is a modern, more customer-friendly facility for our law enforcement officers and the public. The new station includes better evidence and records storage facilities, better office space, prisoner holding rooms, an interrogation room, testing center, new dispatch center, and larger public waiting room. The general contractor for the renovation was BJ & Associates, a Morehead City company.
The new station more than doubled the Police Department's work space, and is expected to serve the Police Department's needs for many years.
Town Acquires Strategically-Located Land for the Future
The Town is fortunate to have the core Town facilities centrally located at the Town Hall complex at 7500 Emerald Drive, however, the Town is likely to outgrow the remaining available space over the next decade. In order to position the Town well for future expansion, the Town purchased a strategically located tract of land on Emerald Drive in January 2008.
The additional land is located directly across NC 58 from the Town Hall complex, and includes 1.2 acres and more than 300 feet of road frontage. Approximately half of the site will be used immediately to construct a new Town Administration building and associated parking, and the remaining half will be reserved for undetermined future uses. The acquisition of this land will hopefully make it easier for the Town's future leaders to meet the community's facility needs at that time. The Town purchased the land, equivalent to 4 residential lots, for $162,500 each, or a total of $650,000.
New Town Administration Building to Be Constructed in FY 08-09
With the expansion of the Police Station into the area formerly occupied by Town administrative staff, the Town began the process of designing a new Town Administration Building in 2007. The Town worked throughout the year to develop a design intended to produce a building that our community will be proud of while minimizing cost.
A new, 4,200 sq. ft. Town Administration Building will be constructed on land across from the existing Town Hall complex beginning in August 2008. The new building will house offices for the Mayor, Commissioners, Town Manager, and administrative staff, and a conference room. The new building has an attractive coastal design, including a wrap-around porch and cupola with clock.
Bluewater Builders of Emerald Isle is also the general contractor for this project, and was awarded a $740,000 contract for construction. The building is expected to be complete by May 2009.
Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project - Phase II Construction
The Town began construction of Phase II of the Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project in May 2008, and work is expected to be complete by August 2008. The $750,000 project includes the construction of two storm water pumps in Spinnakers Reach to relieve chronic nuisance flooding in Spinnakers Reach, Lands End, and Dolphin Ridge, and also includes associated improvements at the storm water receiving site in Emerald Isle Woods Park.
The Phase II project supplements pumps installed on Deer Horn Drive and Conch Court as part of Phase I. The Phase I project has effectively resolved flooding concerns at these locations, and Phase II is expected to produce similar benefits. The Town also completed a connection from the existing Doe Drive pump to the overall Coast Guard Road Storm Water system in spring 2008, bringing the total system to 5 pumps upon completion of the Spinnakers pumps.
The Town plans to construct future pumps at Island Circle near The Point, and in Lands End if ultimately necessary. The entire project should significantly reduce the incidence and duration of flooding along Coast Guard Road after severe rainfall events.
Town Continues Commitment to Effective Management of Storm Water, Preservation of Water Quality The Town continues to operate a comprehensive storm water management program in order to maintain the excellent water quality adjacent to Emerald Isle.
In addition to storm water improvements along Coast Guard Road, the Town continues efforts to eliminate storm water outfalls and sheet flows from Town streets in eastern Emerald Isle. The Town has previously eliminated several outfalls, and applied for grant funding in January 2008 to eliminate all of the remaining outfalls. A decision from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) is expected in September 2008. The Town is also awaiting a decision on a separate CWMTF grant applied for in January 2008 to fund a study of the potential removal of storm water outfalls into Archer's Creek. A decision is also expected on this grant in September 2008.
In addition to the Town's various capital projects, the Town continues to enforce a comprehensive local storm water ordinance for new construction. The Town has worked diligently over the past year to make the Town's ordinance compliant with the State's Universal Storm Water Management Program (USMP), and we expect to begin implementing USMP in August 2008. An additional benefit of USMP is that the Town will now be responsible for issuing State and local storm water permits in Emerald Isle, streamlining the permitting process for our local property owners.
Due in part to the Town's diligent efforts to effectively manage storm water, the NC Environmental Management Commission (EMC) voted to exempt Emerald Isle from Federal "Phase II" storm water requirements in 2007. At the time, Emerald Isle was the only community that had been exempted from these requirements, and the EMC applauded the Town's overall storm water program.
Town Continues Work On Static Vegetation Line Issue - Solution Appears Imminent
The Town continued to work with other NC beach towns over the past year on new State rules that would provide relief from the static vegetation line in eastern Emerald Isle. The NC Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) has conducted an extensive stakeholder input process on the proposed new rules over the past year, and Emerald Isle had significant involvement in the process. The CRC completed a series of public hearings on the proposed new rules in July 2008, and appears poised to adopt new rules later this fall.
If these new rules are approved by the CRC, the Town will submit a 30-year beach maintenance plan to the CRC for review in early 2009. If the Town's plan is approved, the Town will receive an exception to the static line, and property owners in eastern Emerald Isle will be able to rely on the "actual vegetation line" to determine oceanfront building setbacks rather than the existing static line that prevents reconstruction of existing homes if destroyed more than 50% by storms or fire. The result is that oceanfront property owners in eastern Emerald Isle could be allowed to reconstruct homes up to 2,500 sq. ft. in size (compared to no opportunity under the static line rule).
The Town believes this rule change is necessary to protect property owners' ability to reconstruct homes and protect their investment, and that it will also result in more storm-resistant structures and improve aesthetics in this area over time. The Town's beach nourishment project completed in 2003 in this area has performed very well, and the beach remains in very good condition.
The Point Continues to Accrete
The Point was severely threatened by erosion caused by the migration of the main channel in Bogue Inlet prior to 2005. The Town relocated the main channel in Bogue Inlet in 2005, and experienced significant natural accretion at The Point in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, erosion caused by the ocean resulted in the loss of most of the accretion that had occurred in 2005 and 2006, and homes at The Point were once again threatened.
Since late 2007, there has again been significant accretion at The Point. The accretion has been dramatic, and the beach is now approximately 250 feet wide at the Town's vehicle access ramp at the end of Inlet Drive, however, a small slew of water separates the accretion from the ramp. The accretion is expected to continue, and the Town continues efforts to place additional sand from navigation dredging in that area. The Town is also working to bridge or fill the small slew with sand to restore public access, and potentially reopen the vehicle ramp in the coming months.
The Town's consulting engineers predicted that it would take 4 - 6 years for The Point to fully stabilize after relocation of the main channel in 2005. It has now been slightly more than 3 years since the project was completed, and the new channel continues to maintain a relatively stable position and depths. The Town remains very pleased with the project thus far.
Unified Development Ordinance Complete, Ready for Adoption
Town staff, the Planning Board, and the Board of Commissioners all worked very hard over the past year to complete the Towns' new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The UDO has been approved by the Planning Board and is scheduled for adoption by the Board of Commissioners in August 2008.
The UDO represents the consolidation of all of the Town's development ordinances into a more concise and user-friendly document. The UDO has been carefully crafted to be consistent with the Town's Land Use Plan to insure that the Town maintains a healthy balance between orderly development, environmental protection, and property owner rights. The UDO is the key tool to implement the Town's continued vision as a "Family Beach" with a "small-town atmosphere".
New Handicapped-Accessible Walkways Constructed at Beach Accesses
The Town completed construction of new handicapped-accessible ramps to the beach, with associated observation decks, at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access and Western Ocean Regional Access in May 2008. The new ramps and decks represent the Town's continued commitment to improving public access for everyone in Emerald Isle.
The new ramps and observation decks were constructed primarily with grant funding from the NC Division of Coastal Management, and with input from the Carteret County Mayors' Committee for Persons with Disabilities. The new observation decks provide individuals in wheelchairs a clear, comfortable view of the ocean, and the new ramps enable individuals in wheelchairs to travel easily to the beach strand. The ramps also make it easier for able-bodied individuals to tote chairs and other items to the beach strand, and relieve congestion on the existing walkways.
Town Continues to Enjoy Low Tax Rate and Maintain Sound Financial Position
The Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2008-2009 budget in June 2008, and established a General Fund tax rate of 7 cents per $100 of assessed value. The Town enjoys the 2nd lowest tax rate of all 21 North Carolina beach towns, second only to Holden Beach at 6.9 cents. Other NC beach towns' tax rates range from 8 cents to 31 cents. The Town places the highest priority on the maintenance of a low tax rate, and the Town will work hard in future years to keep our property owners' tax burden as low as possible.
The Town continues to maintain a solid financial position, and is well-equipped to deal with emergencies and address unexpected challenges. The Town has ample reserves in the event of major hurricane impacts, and also maintains excellent bond ratings. The Town's General Fund balance is approximately $2 million, with an additional $2.5 million in reserve for future beach nourishment bond payments. The Town's total annual budget for FY 08-09 is approximately $10.25 million.
Other Notable Accomplishments / Items of Note During FY 2007-2008
- New beach access walkways were constructed at Santa Maria Drive and Cedar Tree Lane to replace aging walkways. The Town intends to replace at least two aging walkways per year in the future.
- The Town's Youth Recreational Opportunities Committee worked for several months, and recommended that the Town work with others in Carteret County to provide a meaningful skateboard park in Carteret County and also recommended that the Town provide more teen activities at the Community Center.
- The annual St. Patrick's Festival was held in March 2008, and enjoyed its largest crowd ever!
- New, comprehensive signage was installed at all of the Town's public beach access facilities.
- A new Parks Maintenance building was erected on the Town Hall campus.
- The Town applied for grant funding for the construction of a new ballfield and playground at McLean Park, to be developed in FY 2008-2009 on the soundfront adjacent to Chapel By The Sea church.
- The Town realigned the intersection of Old Ferry Road and Sound Drive to improve visibility and safety.
- A new right-turn lane was added on Crew Drive at NC 58 to promote more efficient traffic flow at the Coast Guard Road / NC 58 / Crew Drive intersection.
- The Town worked with NCDOT to have NC 58 resurfaced from the bridge to Coast Guard Road. The Town continues to work with NCDOT to secure the resurfacing of NC 58 through the entire Town.
- A total of 1.8 miles of Town streets were resurfaced during the year.
- The Town began accepting credit cards for payment of Town taxes and fees.
- The Town worked with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to establish official No Wake Zones along the Coast Guard channel and Bogue Sound Drive canal.
- The Town continued to study the proposed consolidation of all E911 communication centers in Carteret County. The Board of Commissioners is expected to make a final decision on Emerald Isle's participation sometime in the next year.
- The Town's salary plan was amended to insure that law enforcement salaries remain competitive so that the Town can maintain an experienced and quality Police force.
- Commissioners Floyd Messer, Tom Hoover, and Nita Hedreen were unopposed in the November 2007 election, and were re-elected to the Board of Commissioners.
All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle are proud of the Town's accomplishments over the past year, and we look forward to an even more productive year ahead! You can stay in touch with what's happening in Emerald Isle by reading Emerald Tidings in the Island Review, signing up for our email newsletter at our website, or by visiting www.emeraldisle-nc.org for all the latest information about the Town's activities. Have a great next year!