memo-01-12-2016-16

January 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

Annual Budget Planning Workshop – Friday, February 19 – 8:30 am until?

This meeting will be held in the Town Administration Building Conference Room, and will likely last most of the day.  I have attached a copy of the DRAFT meeting agenda for your review.  Please let me know if you’d like us to add any other topics for discussion, or if you believe any items should be removed.  I look forward to receiving the Board’s preliminary feedback on these items as we begin the FY 16-17 budget process.

Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground

We expect to present a recommendation for the purchase of playground equipment at the February 9 Board meeting, with installation of the playground equipment planned for March or April.  Fundraising proceeds will be used for the purchase of the playground equipment.

We are currently awaiting the issuance of the necessary CAMA permit for the park construction, and expect to have the permit in hand in the coming weeks.  Upon receipt of the permit, SunLand Development and Construction will connect the existing asphalt roadway to the existing parking lot at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area (and also remove the connection to Canal Drive to the west).  Much of this labor and material is being donated by SunLand.  Donated materials and labor (Yardworks, Task Contracting) will then be used to construct paver block parking spaces adjacent to the existing roadway.

We should be on target for a late May opening and dedication ceremony, in time for Senator Preston’s birthday and the summer 2016 season.

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

We expect to present a contract recommendation for the replacement of the existing beach access walkways at 18th Street, Bryan Street, and Nina Street at the February 9 Board meeting.  Our goal is to have the 3 new walkways constructed and open to the public by April.  The FY 15-16 budget includes funding for these walkway replacements.

Early Public Input – FY 16-17 Budget

We are planning to schedule a public hearing for the February 9 Board meeting to provide an opportunity for the public to offer their comments and suggestions for the FY 16-17 budget at the beginning of the budget process.  There will also be additional opportunities for the public to comment on the FY 16-17 Recommended Budget in May and June.

2016 Street Resurfacing Contract

We are currently working on a list of recommended street segments for resurfacing this spring.  We expect to solicit bids later in January and February, and present a contract recommendation to the Board at either the February 9 or March 8 Board meeting.

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps

As noted previously, we expect the new flood maps (prepared by the State for FEMA) to be released to the public later this spring.  Town Planner Josh Edmondson will make a presentation to the Board and the public at the earliest meeting after the maps are released to highlight the map changes that will impact Emerald Isle property owners.  Overall, the new maps are very favorable for Emerald Isle property owners, however, we do expect some property owners to be negatively impacted, and want to offer as much information and assistance as possible to these property owners.  There will be an opportunity for formal appeals after the maps are released to the public.

EMS Quick Response Vehicle

Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. has ordered a new 4 x 4 truck and camper shell to replace the existing 2005 Chevrolet Suburban that servers as a quick response vehicle.  Upon receipt of the new vehicle I may consider purchasing this vehicle (which has approximately 50,000 miles) for use by Town Planner Josh Edmondson.  If so, the 2003 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck currently used by the Town Planner would likely be surplused, or perhaps held as a backup vehicle.

Controlled Deer Hunt Underway

The EIPD has begun the 2016 controlled deer hunt, and will be using bow-and-arrow (only) to remove 30 – 50 deer from Town properties and public street right of ways during January.  All hunting activities are closely supervised by EIPD leadership, and conducted only on certain weeknights in the middle of the night.  All deer meat will be donated to the Hope Mission in Morehead City to help feed the hungry in our county.  The NC Wildlife Resources Commission recommends that the Town remove 30 – 50 deer annually to control the deer population in Emerald Isle.

Nies v. Emerald Isle

As you know, the Town prevailed in this case at the NC Court of Appeals.  The Nies have recently filed a petition to the NC Supreme Court to appeal that decision, and we expect a decision from the NC Supreme Court on whether or not they will consider the Nies’ appeal in the next 1 – 2 months.  Because the NC Court of Appeals’ decision was unanimous, the NC Supreme Court is not required to hear their appeal.  If the NC Supreme Court decides to hear their appeal, it will likely be considered later in 2016 or 2017.

As discussed previously, this case has significant consequences for all NC beach communities, as it essentially involves the public’s right to use the flat, dry-sand beach between the base of the dunes and the water.  The Nies have argued that the public trust beach area does not include the flat, dry-sand beach area, while the Town contends that NCGS 77-20 includes this area in the delineation of the public trust beach area.

Cape Emerald Pond Pipe Replacement / Expansion

We have ordered survey data to be used to determine the appropriate size pipe and pipe elevations for the discharge from the Cape Emerald pond.  We expect to work with Moffatt & Nichol Engineers in the coming weeks to develop a recommendation to discuss with the Board at the February 19 budget planning workshop meeting.

Osprey Ridge Storm Water Issue

We have also ordered survey data to be used to determine the most cost-effective solution to chronic storm water flooding in the Osprey Ridge neighborhood. We expect to work with Moffatt & Nichol Engineers in the coming weeks to develop a recommendation to discuss with the Board at the February 19 budget planning workshop meeting.

New Wayfinding Signs

I am currently reviewing price quotes for the new “wayfinding” signs discussed last fall, and hope to place the sign order in the coming weeks.  My goal is to have the new signs installed by April.

New Sidewalk Stubs – Mangrove Drive, Emerald Plantation Shopping Center

This work has been ordered, and we expect the contractor to complete these short sidewalk stubs in January or February. The new sidewalk stubs will allow for a safer pedestrian access to Food Lion, Sound Ace Hardware, K&V Plaza, and CVS.

New Beach Vehicle Ramp Gates

The fabrication of the new, more attractive and durable gates has been delayed due to a health concern for the contractor.  We hope to have the new gates in place at the Ocean Drive dog-leg, Black Skimmer Drive, and The Point vehicle ramps later in January or February. I also hope to eventually add similar gates at the Doe Drive and 16th Street vehicle ramps, and also at the Western Ocean Regional Access and Emerald Isle Woods Park in the future as funds permit.  The new gates are similar to the gates installed last spring at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.

New Plans Submitted for The Islander Suites

As you may recall, the Board previously approved the site plan and building elevations for the construction of a new building (accommodations and meeting space) on the north side of The Islander Suites property.  The owners of The Islander Suites have abandoned that plan, and recently submitted a new plan to add a 3rd story (with additional guest rooms) on the existing main building.  The Planning Board is expected to review the plans at their January 25 meeting, and this may appear on the Board of Commissioners’ February 9 meeting agenda.

Downtown Decorative Lighting

Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative continues to make good progress installing the necessary underground power lines associated with the new decorative lights.  We expect the actual light poles and fixtures to be installed and functioning later in January.

Downtown Street Trees

NCDOT staff has completed the installation of new crape myrtle trees in the NC 58 right of way near Islander Drive, Loon Drive, and Mangrove Drive, and we are pleased with the new trees.  NCDOT staff is expected to plant the remaining trees along the bike path and sidewalk between the new Welcome Center and Black Skimmer Drive later in January.

Playground Damage – Blue Heron Park

The tubular slide on the playground equipment at Blue Heron Park was damaged last fall, and the slide has been unusable since that time.  Town staff have attempted to repair the damage, which we believe may be the result of vandalism, but have been unable to repair it.  Town staff have since filed an insurance claim, and we are awaiting a decision on that claim.  The replacement slide component is approximately $14,000.

New Fall Music and Food Festival - on the Beach?

Based on input from the Town’s Economic Development Steering Committee in 2014 and ideas expressed during the 2015 campaign for Town Commissioner, we are considering the possible creation of a fall music and food festival on the beach strand in the future.

Preliminary ideas include renting a stage to be placed at the Western Ocean Regional Access near the top of the dune, facing the ocean, with the crowd enjoying the music from the beach strand.  The music festival would be held in late September, when the air and water temperatures are still very warm, in an effort to lure a large crowd to Emerald Isle for the entire weekend.  The parking lot at the Western Ocean Regional Access would be used to host various food vendors and food trucks, and public parking would be located on the NC 58 right of way.  It is expected that visitors would arrive via the beach strand and via the street, and visitors could pass freely between the beach strand and the parking lot.

Beach music is an obvious theme for the event, along with other popular genres.  Alcohol would be permitted, but would be monitored by law enforcement.  It will be necessary to determine the best mechanism to fund the musical entertainment (charge a fee for vendors to set up and/or use a beer tent area to generate sufficient funds to pay for the stage rental and music acts?  contributions from sponsors? – please note that I do not envision tax revenue funding this event).  With the proper planning (and the luck of good weather!) this could become a second signature event (along with the St. Patrick’s Festival) for Emerald Isle each fall.

I am planning to discuss this idea with the Emerald Isle Business Association in the coming weeks, and hope to secure buy-in from that group, and from other Emerald Isle businesses to take a lead role on such an event.

3-Way STOP Signs - 12th St. / Ocean Dr.

Public Works will soon install new 3-way STOP signs at this intersection to test their effectiveness in slowing down traffic on Ocean Drive.  We will initially install the STOP signs only, and if the signs are effective we will add STOP bar pavement markings later this spring or summer.

Beach Patrol / Lifeguard Recruitment

The Emerald Isle Fire Department will soon begin recruitment of beach patrol / lifeguard personnel, with a goal to have much of the summer 2016 staff selected by March or April.  We expect to begin providing services on the beach strand in mid / late May.

Drones?

We continue to research the applicable laws, potential equipment, and other issues associated with the Town possibly utilizing drones in the future.  Drones may eventually be helpful to Town staff to monitor beach erosion and inlet migration, identify rip currents, monitor crowds at public events, photograph construction projects, assess Fire scenes, and even deliver floatation devices to distressed swimmers, among many other potential applications.  A demonstration was previously scheduled for December, but was cancelled due to travel difficulties by the vendor.  A new demonstration is scheduled for January 15 if you are interested in attending.

Promotional Video

We have contracted with Playa Graphics, an Emerald Isle graphic arts firm (Brad Styron), to produce a 3 – 5 minute promotional video about Emerald Isle that will  highlight all of the great things about our community.  I expect to showcase the attractiveness of Emerald Isle to potential future permanent residents (families and retirees), second homeowners, and visitors.  The video will initially be utilized on the Town’s website, Facebook, and Twitter applications, and could potentially become a television commercial for Emerald Isle.

The Emerald Isle “App”

We have contracted with Bar-Z, an app development firm, for the creation of a smartphone “app” that could be used by our residents and visitors to learn about the Town, request Town services, report problems, identify local businesses, and more.  We hope to unveil the new app by April.

Emerald Isle Logo T-Shirts ON SALE Soon

T-shirts with the new Town logo (including Nice Matters!) will soon be on sale at the Town Administration Building and the new Welcome Center.  The 100% cotton beefy-Ts will be available for $15 each.