Emerald Tidings

October 2018

  1. Town Continues Recovery from Hurricane Florence, Facility and Infrastructure Repairs Expected in Coming Months
  2. Planned Beach Nourishment Project Scope to Be Reconsidered
  3. Islander Drive, Western Ocean Regional Access Improvements On Hold for Now
  4. McLean-Spell Park Bridge Under Construction
  5. Draft State Transportation Improvement Program Released, Emerald Isle Intersections Included
  6. Beach Driving Season Underway
  7. Deer Population Survey Cancelled This Year, No Controlled Deer Hunt Planned
  8. Seasonal Population Study Underway by NCDOT
  9. Town Purchases First Drone
  10. Town Working With Property Owner to Demolish Abandoned Building Near Ocean Drive "Dog-Leg"
  11. Did You Know?


Town Continues Recovery from Hurricane Florence, Facility and Infrastructure Repairs Expected in Coming Months

Town staff continue to work hard on recovery efforts associated with Hurricane Florence, and debris collection and mosquito control activities will continue through October.  Town staff and Town contractors will also be working hard in the coming weeks and months on all types of repairs, both large and small.  

Damages to Town facilities and infrastructure include significant beach erosion, beach access walkway damage, leaky roofs on Town buildings, storm water pipe failures, downed trees in parks, bike path damage, street failures, soundside pier damage, missing or compromised street signs, damaged benches, burned out or damaged street lights, street washouts, and more. Fortunately, the Town expects to receive significant public assistance funding from FEMA to repair, restore, and/or replace these facilities and infrastructure.  It will likely take several months, and perhaps more than a year to complete all work.    

Gradually, and eventually, we'll get everything fixed and have these facilities and infrastructure back to normal (and likely better in many cases).  However, it will take some time and likely create some inconvenience, and the Town greatly appreciates your patience and understanding!

Planned Beach Nourishment Project Scope to Be Reconsidered  

The Town suffered significant beach erosion during Hurricane Florence.  Fortunately, there were no dune breaches, and the bulk of primary dunes remain intact, however, the smaller incipient dunes and the recreational beach areas were flattened, resulting in the displacement of a significant sand volume offshore.  Post-Florence beach profile survey work has already been completed, and this data will be analyzed by coastal engineers in October.  After the volume of sand lost as a result of Hurricane Florence is determined, the Town will submit a claim for FEMA assistance to replace the lost sand.  

The Town and County had been actively planning a significant beach nourishment project for eastern Emerald Isle that was scheduled for construction this coming winter.  Ironically, the bid solicitation for this work was scheduled to be released shortly after Hurricane Florence impacted Emerald Isle.  Because of the significant beach erosion caused by Hurricane Florence, the bid solicitation has been delayed until the actual Florence losses are determined.  The Town will need to consider various issues, including the actual sand volume lost, the likely expansion of the project area in Emerald Isle, permit issues, timing issues, dredge availability, the typical April 30 permit deadline to complete these projects, and FEMA input in finalizing the construction scope and schedule.  A decision on the revised scope and schedule of the beach nourishment project will be made in late October.   

The Town will be working hard to secure a beach nourishment contractor to complete a meaningful beach nourishment project in Emerald Isle this winter, however, depending on the resolution of these issues, it may be necessary to delay nourishment until winter 2019-2020.  The Town does NOT want to delay the project, and will be working hard to construct a project this coming winter.  More details will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Islander Drive, Western Ocean Regional Access Improvements On Hold for Now 

A-Team Enterprises, LLC, the new owner of land on Islander Drive that was previously occupied by an abandoned go-cart track and bumper boat facility, had been planning to begin construction a new mixed-use development in January 2019.  With the significant impacts from Hurricane Florence, it is now likely that this timetable will be adjusted as both the Town and A-Team Enterprises focus on higher storm-related priorities.  

The Town has been working hard in recent months to develop a scope of public improvements along Islander Drive and at the Western Ocean Regional Access that will be funded by land sale proceeds and grant funding, and constructed in conjunction with the planned private development by A-Team Enterprises.  These public improvements will likely also be somewhat delayed, and it will be important to consider the timing of construction relative to the busy 2019 tourism season. The Town will be working hard to complete all selected public improvements either before May 2019 or after September 2019 so as not to unnecessarily disrupt the Town, nearby businesses, and visitors to the Western Ocean Regional Access during the summer 2019 season.

McLean-Spell Park Bridge Under Construction

The Town's contractor began construction of the new pedestrian bridge from the Community Center to the new McLean-Spell Park slightly before Hurricane Florence impacted Emerald Isle, however, Florence has not allowed work to continue.  The Town hopes to have the contractor complete construction of the new bridge in November, after which it will be open for public use (this schedule should also coincide with the removal of tree debris in the new park). The Town also plans to hold a special dedication ceremony for the new park later this fall or winter.

Draft State Transportation Improvement Program Released, Emerald Isle Intersections Included

NCDOT has released a draft of the new 10-year State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), and requested intersection improvements at three Emerald Isle intersections are included.  The NC 58 / Bogue Inlet Drive intersection is again included in the new plan, with construction targeted for 2025.  The NC 58 / Coast Guard Road intersection is included, with construction targeted for 2027.  The NC 58 / Loon Drive (Emerald Plantation) intersection is also included, with construction targeted for 2028.  The NC 58 / Mangrove Drive intersection is not included in the draft plan, but there is still a chance that that intersection will also be added to the final 2020-2029 STIP later this year.

Inclusion in the STIP is the critical first step in securing State funding for future NC 58 intersection improvements, in whatever form they may ultimately take.  Without inclusion in the STIP, no improvements of any kind are likely to proceed in the future.  Although the 3 intersections are identified in the draft STIP as either mini-roundabout or roundabout improvements, NCDOT will perform significant additional analysis, consult with the Town, consult with nearby business owners, and solicit additional public input in the coming years before finalizing any specific plans for these intersections.  In the end, the actual improvements may be roundabouts, traffic signal and/or lane improvements, or perhaps no improvements at all, however, it is critical for these projects to be included in the STIP in order to have any chance at all for future NC 58 improvements. 

It is important to note that the vast majority of people in Emerald Isle are opposed to the widening of the NC 58 bridge and NC 58 because it is believed this will drastically change the character of the Town and negatively impact the Town's small-town atmosphere.  If one accepts this position, yet still wants to improve traffic flow into and out of Emerald Isle, the only remaining options are small, incremental intersection improvements.  It is obvious that the 4 signalized intersections are the primary factors causing traffic congestion, and the projects included in the draft STIP seek helpful, incremental improvements at these locations.  There are likely no "magic bullet" solutions to the Town's traffic congestion issues during peak periods, and the Town has consistently worked to identify any helpful improvements to at least promote incremental improvement in traffic flow through Emerald Isle.

One other option that is often suggested is the potential for a 3rd bridge to the mainland in the middle of Bogue Banks.  The construction of a 3rd bridge would likely be a significant enhancement for Emerald Isle, however, this project is not currently under consideration by NCDOT or any local government in Carteret County.  It is also unlikely that such a project would ever be constructed in many of our lifetimes due to significant cost, environmental hurdles, and local political issues in other municipalities. 

Beach Driving Season Underway

The regular beach driving season begins each September 15, however, Hurricane Florence delayed the beginning of this season until September 29.  A permit is required, and vehicle access ramps are located at the Ocean Drive "dog-leg" in the 3000 block, at the end of Black Skimmer Drive, and at The Point.  All vehicle access ramps are in reasonably good condition, however, beach drivers should exercise caution at the ramps and on the beach strand.  For more information, or to apply for a beach driving permit online, please visit  https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/beach-driving .

Deer Population Survey Cancelled This Year, No Controlled Deer Hunt Planned 

Town staff and biologists from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission conduct annual deer population surveys to monitor the local deer population and inform decisions about controlled hunts to effectively manage the Emerald Isle deer population.  Due to Hurricane Florence, no deer population survey will be conducted this year, and no controlled hunt is planned for this winter. 

In September 2017, the deer population was estimated at 48 deer, the lowest total in many years, and well below the peak deer population of 159 estimated in 2013.  As a result, the Town did not conduct a controlled deer hunt in early 2018.  Based on local observations, the Town believes the annual deer population has not changed significantly in the past year.  Additionally, the number of deer-vehicle accidents has dropped dramatically - from a high of 31 in FY 13-14 to only 4 in FY 17-18.  

Seasonal Population Study Underway by NCDOT

The Town is participating on a working group that includes NCDOT staff, NC League of Municipalities staff, and local government officials that has been tasked with devising a methodology to accurately account for seasonal population in the Powell Bill (State street maintenance funding) revenue distribution formula. Under current formulas, only the Town's permanent population of approximately 3,800 is considered in revenue distribution, and the Town's peak seasonal population is approximately 40,000.  

If revenue distribution formulas are ultimately adjusted to provide more "credit" for communities like Emerald Isle (and other tourism destinations along the coast and in the mountains), the Town would realize additional State revenue.  This specific study is focused on Powell Bill revenues, however, the Town is hopeful that any new formula that incorporates seasonal population may also eventually be applied to other State revenues that are distributed based on population - particularly sales tax.  

Town Purchases First Drone 

The Town recently purchased a drone equipped with a high quality camera to aid in various Town services in the future.  Specialized training and certifications are required for governmental use, and two Fire Department employees are currently enrolled in required training. 

The new drone will be available for use by all Town departments, and is expected to be helpful for firefighting incidents, crowd monitoring at special events, search and rescue activities, and more.  Town staff will also be exploring potential modifications to potentially enable the delivery of flotation devices to swimmers in distress or otherwise enhance water rescue operations in the future.

Town Working With Property Owner to Demolish Abandoned Building Near Ocean Drive "Dog-Leg"

The old "Circle Pizza building" located near the Ocean Drive "dog-leg" has been abandoned for several years, and has fallen into disrepair.  Town staff has been working cooperatively with the owner on a plan to demolish the building, and once outstanding issues are resolved we expect this building to be demolished and the land restored to vacant status.  

Did You Know?

The Town received an estimated 24 inches (with some reports suggesting as much as 30 inches) during Hurricane Florence.  This is believed to be the most significant rainfall event in the Town's history, and equates to a 1 in 1,000 year rainfall event.  The Town's environmentally-friendly storm water management system along the Coast Guard Road corridor is designed for a 10-inch rainfall event.   

Posted by Rhonda Ferebee Monday, October 1, 2018 5:36:00 PM