Emerald Tidings

November 2007

  1. Town of Emerald Isle Announces Partnership with NC Aquariums for "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle"
  2. Emerald Isle Has Ample Supply of Drinking Water, But Water Conservation is Always Encouraged
  3. Town Proceeding with Next Phase of Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project
  4. Design Work Complete for the New Town Administrative Building
  5. NC Coastal Resources Commission to Hold Public Hearings

Emerald Tidings, composed monthly by Town Manager Frank Rush, is the official newsletter of the Town of Emerald Isle.


Town of Emerald Isle Announces Partnership with NC Aquariums for "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle"

Proposal Submitted for Initial Funding

The North Carolina Aquariums submitted a proposal to the new North Carolina Waterfront Access and Marine Industry (WAMI) Fund on November 1 for funding to proceed with the development of three State ocean fishing piers that will be owned and operated as satellite facilities of the North Carolina Aquariums at Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Fisher.  The Town of Emerald Isle is pleased to announce that it is partnering with the North Carolina Aquariums for the central coast pier that will be operated in conjunction with the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  The NC Aquariums' WAMI Fund proposal seeks a total of $4 million for the coast-wide effort, with approximately $2 million of this request earmarked as initial funding for site planning, design, permitting, and site improvements for "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle".

The Town of Emerald Isle and the NC Aquariums have been working cooperatively for the past 18 months on strategies to insure the perpetual existence of an ocean fishing pier on North Carolina's central coast.  "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle" project outlined in the WAMI proposal is the result of considerable research, analysis, and discussion over that time, and the two partners are eager to move forward with the project.  The proposed project involves the transfer of the Town's Eastern Ocean Regional Access facility, located oceanfront at mile-marker 15 on NC 58, to the NC Aquariums to be the home of the new facility.  The 4.2 acre site is the former home of the historic Emerald Isle Pier that was dismantled after the hurricanes in 1996, and has since served as a major public beach access for the area.  This property is valued at approximately $5.5 million, and will be transferred by the Town to the NC Aquariums at no cost. 

The new ocean fishing pier and related facilities will be modeled after a similar project currently underway in Nags Head involving the NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island, with "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle" operated as a satellite facility of the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  The pier will be constructed primarily from concrete to enable it to withstand future hurricane activity, and will jut 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.  A new, first class pier house will be constructed and will include a tackle shop, food service, public meeting spaces, NC Aquarium exhibits, and other amenities.  The project also calls for the construction of a smaller sound-side pier on Bogue Sound across from the new ocean fishing pier.   Total design, permitting, and initial site improvement costs are estimated at $2 million, which would be funded by the WAMI proposal submitted on November 1.  The Town of Emerald Isle's land contribution is valued at $5.5 million, and the total estimated construction cost is $12.2 million.  The remaining construction cost will be funded through a combination of NC Aquarium admission receipts, future grant requests, local government contributions, and a private fundraising campaign.  The proposal calls for construction of "The Aquarium Pier on Emerald Isle" to begin in 2010, with the new pier complete and open to the public in 2012. 

"We are excited about this partnership with the NC Aquariums", said Mayor Art Schools.  "We believe the project will provide tremendous benefits for North Carolinians for generations to come.  The project will provide recreational fishing benefits, further the Aquarium's mission to enhance the public's understanding and appreciation of the aquatic environment, add to the area's strong tourism economy, maintain public beach access, provide accessibility for handicapped individuals to enjoy the ocean, and provide opportunities for marine research and data collection."  "Public ocean fishing piers remain threatened by escalating coastal real estate values, and it is important for the State and local governments to take action to insure the perpetual existence of piers along the North Carolina coast."  NC Aquariums Director David Griffin echoed the Mayor's comments and added, "We are excited about our partnership with the Town of Emerald Isle, and look forward to working with the Town on this important project.  The Emerald Isle pier project and our other two pier projects are a logical intersection of the NC Aquariums' mission and the need to preserve the ocean pier experience for current and future generations of North Carolinians."

A copy of the funding proposal can be viewed at www.emeraldisle-nc.org - click on the link under "Latest News and Info".

Emerald Isle Has Ample Supply of Drinking Water, But Water Conservation is Always Encouraged

Emerald Isle's drinking water is supplied by Bogue Banks Water Corporation (BBWC), a separate, non-profit corporation that is not affiliated with Town government.  Despite this separation, the Town and BBWC enjoy a cooperative relationship and often work together to provide the best possible services for the people of Emerald Isle.   Town officials are in regular contact with BBWC officials, and met recently to discuss the drought conditions and water shortages affecting many areas of North Carolina.  Emerald Isle and BBWC are fortunate to have an ample supply of drinking water available to meet our community's needs in both the short term and the long term, and are thus not facing the same challenges that other NC communities are facing at this time.  Unlike many inland communities that rely on surface water to supply drinking water, BBWC relies on a series of deep wells that tap the plentiful Castle Hayne Aquifer up to 300 feet below the ground.    As a result, neither the Town nor BBWC has issued any mandatory conservation measures at this time.  The Town and BBWC always encourage water conservation, however, and there are numerous steps that can be taken to reduce water consumption.  Some are simple and easy, like turning off the water while shaving or brushing teeth, running washing machines with a full load, or minimizing the time that lawn sprinklers operate.  In Emerald Isle, the proliferation of lawn sprinklers is a key reason for recent increases in BBWC water usage, and property owners are encouraged to investigate the possibility of installing shallow wells (up to 50 feet deep that don't draw from the Castle Hayne aquifer) for lawn irrigation purposes.  It is likely that the up-front cost will pay for itself in the form of reduced water bills over time, and also eliminates the need for potentially costly RPZ valves.  Contact a local well-driller or BBWC for more information on this option.      Although Emerald Isle is not impacted now, there is always the potential for future shortages.  It is likely that more inland communities will seek to tap the Castle Hayne for more reliable water supply in the future, which could eventually impact Emerald Isle.  Although Emerald Isle is fortunate to avoid this crisis, it is always wise to conserve this valuable resource.  For more information on water conservation and the challenges faced by other areas of North Carolina, please visit www.governor.state.nc.us.

Town Proceeding with Next Phase of Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project

Construction Expected in Spring / Summer 2008

Design work for the next phase of the Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project is proceeding, and should be complete in the next two months.  The Town plans to solicit construction bids for the next phase in early 2008, and hopes to complete construction by summer 2008.   The next phase of the project involves the construction of 2 new pumps in Spinnakers Reach subdivision, the conveyance of pumped storm water and ground water to the Emerald Isle Woods receiving site, and additional site improvements at Emerald Isle Woods.  The project has an estimated cost of approximately $800,000 - $900,000, and will be financed with an installment financing agreement.  The financing strategy is consistent with the Town's 5-Year Capital Replacement / Improvement Plan and 5-Year Budget Projections routinely used when making budget decisions.   The completion of this project is expected to diminish the duration and frequency of nuisance storm water flooding in the Dolphin Ridge, Spinnakers Reach, and Lands End subdivisions.  Upon completion, the Town will have installed a total of 4 new storm water pumps, with plans to also connect a 5th pump (Doe Drive) to the overall Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project.   The final phases of the Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project involve the construction of new pumps at Island Circle and at two locations in Lands End.  Permitting activities for the final phase is ongoing, and construction is still at least two years out, if not longer (for Lands End pumps).

Design Work Complete for New Town Administrative Building

Design work for the new Town Administrative Building is now complete, and the Town is currently soliciting construction bids.  Construction is expected to begin in January and be complete by the Fall of 2008.

The new building consists of approximately 3,900 heated sq. ft., with an inviting lobby and reception area, a conference room, and 7 office workspaces for Town administrative staff and the elected officials.  The new building consists of 2 stories, and will be located in the grassy area adjacent to the existing (and now obsolete) fuel pumps and tanks behind Town Hall and in front of the tennis courts.  The building will have an attractive, coastal design on the exterior.  Burnette Architecture, Morehead City, NC, is the project architect.

The new building is expected to meet the Town's needs for many years to come.  Town administrative staff have been located in the Town Hall Meeting Room since May when work began on the renovation and expansion of the Police Department into the area formerly occupied by Town administrative staff. 

Sufficient land area has been reserved for a future new Town Meeting Room connected to the new building when / if such a facility becomes necessary in the future.  The existing Town Meeting Room will continue to be used for official Town meetings upon completion of the new building next Fall.

NC Coastal Resources Commission to Hold Public Hearings on Proposed New Oceanfront Setback Rules and "Static Vegetation Line" Rules

The NC Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) is currently considering new rules that govern oceanfront setbacks and that would also enable the retirement of the "static vegetation line" if certain criteria are met.  The CRC will meet at The City Hotel and Bistro in Greenville, NC on November 29 and 30 and will conduct a public hearing on the proposed rules.  Interested Emerald Isle property owners are encouraged to attend this meeting.  The CRC is not expected to adopt the rules at the November meeting, but adoption in early 2008 is possible.  

The proposed rules have two main provisions that will impact Emerald Isle.  First, the proposed rules include greater oceanfront setbacks for all structures (both commercial and residential) greater than 5,000 sq. ft.  Given the layout of oceanfront lots in Emerald Isle, the practical impact of this change is that most oceanfront lots will be unable to accommodate homes larger than 5,000 sq. ft. in the future.  The second main provision is one that the Town has been actively pursuing for nearly two years, and could potentially enable the Town to retire the "static vegetation line" that is in place for the Town's easternmost 6 miles of ocean beach.  The "static vegetation line" has no practical impact on most of this area, however, the easternmost 2.5 +/- miles of Emerald Isle's oceanfront are subject to the "static vegetation line" and include nonconforming structures that will remain nonconforming forever under the current rules.  This nonconforming status makes it impossible for property owners to replace structures destroyed by fire or storm and also prevents responsible redevelopment of this area of town.  The new rules would enable the Town to request the retirement of the "static vegetation line" if adequate future beach nourishment plans are established. 

 A copy of the proposed rules can be viewed at http://dcm2.enr.state.nc.us/Rules/proposed.htm - click on "General Identification and Description of Landforms" and "General Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Areas".  Dr. Jeff Warren, Coastal Hazards Analyst for the NC Division of Coastal Management, is the staff person working on this issue, and he can be reached at 919-733-2293 or jeff.warren@ncmail.net .   

Frank A. Rush, Jr.
Town Manager
Posted by Frank Rush Thursday, November 1, 2007 11:26:00 AM