March 14, 2017

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K Races – Saturday, March 25

The Race Committee and Town staff are gearing up for the races on March 25.  As of March 10, a total of 717 runners have registered for the 3 races, which is down from last year, when approximately 1,500 runners registered.  Due to the way the calendar falls this year, our race is scheduled for the same day as the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, which is an older, more established race, and this may be impacting our registration numbers.  In previous years, our races have occurred one week or more later.  We do expect to see an increase in registrations in the next two weeks, particularly for the 5K race.  Regardless, we are working hard to put on a quality event, and still hope to raise a significant amount for the bike path and the Crystal Coast Autism Center.

Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant Application

I continue to explore the possibility of the Town purchasing the vacant 30 acre tract behind the Town Government Complex for future park development.  The deadline for grant applications to the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is May 1, and I may have a resolution authorizing a grant application (with a public hearing) on your April 11 meeting agenda.

Emerald Isle EMS Contracts, New Board of Directors Structure

The Town’s contracts with EI EMS, Inc. expire on June 30, and I expect to present a new emergency medical services contract recommendation to the Board at the April 11 meeting.  The new contract will include several new provisions intended to improve accountability and also prepare for a future transition of EI EMS to a Town department. 

The term of the new contract will be from April 15, 2017 – March 1, 2018, and will include a new structure for EI EMS Board of Directors.  The new structure will include 2 appointments from the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners (one with a business background and one with a medical background), and the Board will be asked to make these appointments at the April 11 meeting.  EI EMS, Inc. will appoint 3 members, and the new 5-member EI EMS Board of Directors would be seated by April 15.  It is anticipated that the Joint EMS Committee will continue to work toward a future transition of EI EMS to a Town department over the course of the next year. 

The Board will also consider an extension of the separate contract for the Town to provide financial management services for EI EMS, Inc.

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival Funding Request

Due to primarily to concerns expressed by the TDA Board of Directors, and also some difficulty in securing desired performers, I have decided not to submit a formal TDA funding request for a ticketed concert event featuring a national recording artist.  We will however, be submitting a funding request for $35,000 to fund the beach music performers at the Beach Music Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 30.  I hope to revisit the idea of a ticketed concert featuring a national recording artist in 2018.

Potential Closure of Old Ferry Road Between Mangrove Drive and NC 58 (Behind CVS)

I am working with adjacent property owners on the potential closure of this ~ 600 ft. segment of Town street behind CVS.  The segment only serves 3 property owners, all of whom have alternative access to their property.  The closure of this street segment would relieve the Town of maintenance responsibility in the future, would aid the adjacent property owners, and will hopefully promote redevelopment of the old car wash property.  If the property owners are agreeable, I expect to present a Resolution of Intent to the Board at the April 11 meeting.

Pre-Positioned Hurricane Debris, Pump, Generator Contracts

Town staff are currently working with our FEMA consultant to solicit bids for these contracts, and we expect to present contract recommendations to the Board at the May 9 meeting.

Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station

Work on this project is nearly complete.  The only remaining work is the installation of a new electric line to serve the pump station and the installation of a small discharge pipe.  I expect this work to be completed in the coming days. 

Bogue Inlet Drive Improvements, Bike Path

SunLand Builders is making good progress on the realignment of Bogue Inlet Drive thus far.  The existing sidewalk has been removed, and the new rock base has been installed for the realigned street.  Barring some unforeseen problem or weather issues, we expect them to complete work on this project by early or mid-April.

Board of Adjustment Appointments

There are currently two vacancies on the Board of Adjustment, and the terms of 3 current members expire in May.  Please let me know if you’d like us to advertise for applicants and/or reach out to the current members.  The Board of Adjustment has not met since November 2011, nearly 5 ½ years ago.

Potential Golf Cart Ordinance Change – Allow on Coast Guard Road Between Deer Horn Drive and NC 58 / Crew Drive?

As discussed previously, I have been considering presenting an ordinance amendment for the Board to consider that would  a) reduce the speed limit on Coast Guard Road between Deer Horn Drive and NC 58 / Crew Drive from 35 mph to 25 mph, and  b) allow golf carts in the Town’s program to travel on this segment.  This change would allow golf carts to cross NC 58 at the traffic signal at the Coast Guard Road intersection (which golf cart operators believe is safer than crossing at non-signalized intersections at Islander Drive and Mallard Drive) and would provide a golf cart connection for residents in the Cape Emerald, Ocean Oaks, Sea Dunes, Deer Horn Dunes, and Osprey Ridge neighborhoods to access the middle of Emerald Isle. 

Concerns have been expressed about the potential dangerous nature of the NC 58 / Coast Guard Road intersection with vehicles travelling at high speed from the bridge area and the potential for a serious accident with a golf cart if a vehicle runs the red light (i.e., a golf cart does not provide the protection that a typical motor vehicle would provide in an accident).  On the other hand, bicyclists and pedestrians are permitted to cross at that intersection, and are perhaps more vulnerable than a golf cart.  Additionally, there is concern that the allowance of golf carts in this ¼ mile segment of Coast Guard Road will cause confusion and result in more golf carts operating illegally on the remainder of Coast Guard Road (that would remain a 35 mph speed zone; although I have received a suggestion that all of Coast Guard Road should be reduced to 25 mph).  On the other hand, this change would benefit the residents in the nearby subdivisions, allowing them to access Emerald Plantation and other areas of Emerald Isle, which can not legally occur under the current ordinance.

Please let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging

I will be attending a meeting with the Corps of Engineers and NC Division of Water Resources about Bogue Inlet dredging on March 15, and expect to learn more about the Corps’ schedule for dredging Bogue Inlet.  I have previously requested an April or early May dredging event, and they are working to accommodate that request. 

New Small Storm Water Relay Pump - Bogue Court

Public Works has not yet installed this new feature due to other workload demands.  We hope to have this new small storm water relay pump installed later this month or in April.  The new system will discharge water into the dune field at The Point, and should effectively resolve standing water issues on Bogue Court. 

PEP Program To Focus on 911 Center Protocols, Caller Questions

We sometimes receive complaints from our residents and property owners about the seemingly long list of questions asked by County 911 dispatchers when someone calls 911 to report a concern.  In all instances, the Police, Fire, and/or EMS responder is dispatched early in the dialogue after the dispatcher has the most important information, and the subsequent questions occur while the responder is en route.  In an effort to better educate our residents and property owners, Chief Reese has arranged for County officials to present information about 911 protocols at the April 18 PEP (Police Educating the Public) meeting. 

Additionally, at the Town’s request, the 911 Center is working to streamline the questions used for non-emergency calls in order to reduce the burden on the caller. They have implemented new protocols for unleashed dog calls, and I’ve asked Chief Reese to work with the 911 Center to attempt to streamline the process for other non-emergency calls. 

Leash Law Enforcement

In response to concerns received in recent weeks, the Police Department has increased enforcement of the Town’s leash law on the beach strand.  Particular emphasis is being placed on the regional beach access facilities, however, officers will be more actively enforcing this ordinance along the entire beach strand. 

Street Resurfacing

Onslow Grading and Paving has completed most of the streets included in the Town’s 2017 street resurfacing contract, and we are pleased with their work.  The resurfacing of Louise Avenue at the entrance to the Western Ocean Regional Access was intentionally delayed to allow crews at the Islander Suites to complete work on the wastewater system adjacent to the park entrance.  We expect to direct Onslow Grading and Paving to that location when they return to resurface Bogue Inlet Drive.

Wedding, Noise Concerns – Eastern Emerald Isle

Mayor Barber, Emerald Isle Realty officials, and I recently met with residents in the 100 and 200 block to discuss concerns about weddings and noise at two vacation rental units in that area.  Emerald Isle Realty has not violated any Town ordinances, but is voluntarily taking steps to address the neighbors’ concerns.  Some of the residents assert that vacation rental units hosting weddings or other special events is a zoning violation, however, Town staff do not interpret the zoning ordinance as such. 

Beach Access Food Vendor Program

Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, solicited food vendor applications from Emerald Isle businesses in February, and did not receive any applications.  She is now soliciting applications from non-EI businesses through March 28.  If there is sufficient interest, we will allow them to offer food at the regional beach access facilities this summer.

Beach Swing Prototype

I have asked the Parks and Recreation Department to develop a “beach swing” bench prototype for installation on the beach at the Western Ocean Regional Access, and hope to have it installed prior to Memorial Day weekend.  If it is well received, we will likely offer these as another way to honor or memorialize a loved one at other beach access locations (similar to the benches along the bicycle path).

Town Survey

I have not yet had an opportunity to devote time to this effort, but still hope to devise a customer satisfaction survey to be offered online early this summer. 

Western Ocean Regional Access Stage Expansion

In an effort to improve the stage for performers, a Town contractor will be adding an additional 200 sq. ft. to the stage at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  We hope to have this expansion completed before Memorial Day weekend, and used by performers at the Beach Music Festival in September. 

Additional Storm Water Improvement Near Speedway Gas Station, Near K&V Plaza

Public Works has completed the installation of a new infiltration area on the northeast corner of Coast Guard Road and NC 58, and it appears to be more effective in resolving standing water concerns at this location.  I have asked Public Works to install a similar system on the northwest corner of that intersection, and we hope to complete this work in the next few months.

Public Works is also planning to install a similar system in front of K&V Plaza near the intersection of Mangrove Drive and NC 58, near the gas pumps.  This area frequently accumulates standing water. 

Cape Emerald Discharge Pipe Replacement

We are receiving some resistance to the proposed pipe expansion and replacement from State officials, and we are still working through this issue.  I remain hopeful that a CAMA permit will ultimately be granted to replace the existing 15 inch discharge pipe with a new 24 inch pipe.  The FY 16-17 budget includes a total of $32,500 for this work.   

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

The Town’s contractor, B&P Services, is nearing completion of the new Sea Crest walkway.  Upon completion of Sea Crest, we expect the contractor to move to the Georgia Street walkway, followed by the Hubert Street walkway.  We hope to have all 3 walkways complete and open to the public by April 30, if not sooner.

Emerald Isle Video / Commercial

Brad Styron, a local photographer / videographer, is still working on the planned Emerald Isle video / commercial, and we hope to “debut” it just before Memorial Day weekend.  The new video / commercial will include footage of all the great things about Emerald Isle and will be available on the Town’s website and social media platforms.  I also hope to eventually create a 30-second version that could potentially air on television as a commercial.

Work Beginning for 2020 US Census

The US Census Bureau is gearing up for the 2020 Census, and recently reached out to Town staff. After we learn more, Town Planner Josh Edmondson will make a presentation to the Board and the community at an upcoming Board meeting.

Municipal Elections Bills

Bills have been filed in the 2017 session of the NC General Assembly that could impact municipal elections in the future.  Some proposals involve shifting municipal elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years to occur at the same time as other Federal and State elections, and at least one proposal would make municipal elections partisan, and require candidates to identify with one of the two major political parties.

Coyote Management Program

The coyote management program ended on February 28, and resulted in the trapping of 14 coyotes.  The program ran smoothly, with no problems of any kind.  Town staff will continue to monitor the coyote population during the year, and may initiate a new program in December 2017 if deemed necessary. 

EI Woods Park Disc Golf Course

The new disc golf course is nearing completion, and is expected to be complete and open to the public in the coming days.  We greatly appreciate the work of local resident Andy Johnson, other volunteers, and local sponsors to create the new course in EI Woods Park. 

Condominium Deck Program

Town Planner Josh Edmonson continues to work with condominium complex representatives and management companies on this program, and we hope to resolve the outstanding concerns and implement the program later this spring.

Unified Development Ordinance Simplification

Josh Edmondson and I will be working on a significantly simplified UDO to present to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the coming months.  My goal is to eliminate all unnecessary regulations and confusing language, and create a simple, reader-friendly ordinance that achieves the Town’s most important development policy goals.