Memo-03-08-2016-Item13

March 8, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Resolution Authorizing Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant Application

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the attached Resolution  Authorizing a Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant Application for the construction of a new wooden walkway at the beach access location at The Point vehicle ramp, and to install new security gates at the Station Street Park parking area that serves this beach access location.  The total grant amount to be requested is $21,000, and a local match of $7,000 (25% of total cost) would be required. 

As discussed at the Board’s February 19 budget planning workshop meeting, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has indicated that a new wooden walkway at The Point vehicle ramp is among the committee’s highest priorities.  As you know, The Point is among the most beautiful and popular beach locations in Emerald Isle, and the construction of a new wooden walkway at this location would result in a safer and easier pathway for visitors at this beach access location.  The Board discussed the potential appropriation of funds from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Fund for this project in FY 16-17, however, it may be advantageous to first attempt to secure grant funding for this project.  The NC Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access grant program, administered by the NC Division of Coastal Management, is currently accepting grant applications for FY 16-17.  If the Board approves the attached resolution, Town staff will submit a grant application for this project prior to the March 16 deadline.  Grant awards are expected to be announced later this summer.

If awarded, grant funds would be used to construct a typical beach access walkway along the north side of The Point beach vehicle ramp, as depicted in the attached aerial photo.  The new walkway would be approximately 75 - 100 feet long, and would potentially also include a sitting area / observation area.  The estimated cost of the new beach access walkway is $20,000.  Because the beach access location at The Point is served by the Station Street Park parking area, the proposed grant application would also include new security gates for this facility.  The new gates would be identical to the Town’s other steel gates recently installed at The Point vehicle ramp, Black Skimmer vehicle ramp, Ocean Drive “dog-leg” vehicle ramp, and the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.  Because the Station Street Park has two driveways, two new gates would be installed.  The total cost for the two new gates is $8,000. 

If the Town is fortunate to receive a grant for these improvements, the Town’s $7,000 local match would be included in the FY 16-17 budget, and could be derived either from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Fund or the General Fund, at the Board’s discretion.

The Town has been very successful in securing grant funding from the NC Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant program in the past, and the application process is among the least bureaucratic grant application processes.  Although I am not certain how competitive the Town’s grant application will be, I believe it is worth the limited effort required to prepare a grant application for this year’s process.  As you know, the Town has aggressively pursued any and all grants that can benefit our community in recent years, and we are constantly seeking new grant opportunities.  The NC Division of Coastal Management expects to award approximately $1 million among the 20 coastal counties this year, and I am somewhat hopeful that the relatively small amount of the Town’s request may enhance its chances for approval.

I recommend approval of the attached resolution.