April 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
FY 16-17 Recommended Budget
Town staff are hard at work on the FY 16-17 budget, and I expect to present the Recommended Budget to the Board at the May 10 regular meeting.
Reschedule Budget Workshop Meeting – Wednesday, May 11 or Thursday, May 12?
The Board is currently scheduled to conduct its first budget workshop meeting on Tuesday, May 17 at 6 pm. Commissioner Wright will be away on that date. Please let me know if your schedule allows us to reschedule this meeting for either Wednesday, May 11 or Thursday, May 12, and also if you’d prefer a day or evening meeting. I expect the meeting will last for approximately 3 hours +/-.
Pre-Positioned Hurricane Debris Contract
We are currently soliciting bids for this contract for the 2016 hurricane season, and expect to present a contract recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at the May 10 regular meeting.
Financial Audit Contract
The Town has contracted with Williams, Scarborough, Smith & Gray (WSSG) for the annual financial audit since 2011. Town staff will present a 2016 contract with WSSG to the Board for consideration at the May 10 regular meeting.
Proposed Legislation – Municipal Service Districts
As you know, the Town uses a municipal service district (the “Primary Benefit District”’; all oceanfront and inlet-front property owners) to generate a portion (~ $275,000) of the total funds ($675,000) reserved annually for future beach nourishment in Emerald Isle. A legislative committee is currently working on proposed legislation that could impact municipal service districts, and we are monitoring this issue closely. Thus far, the proposed changes do not appear to present any significant issues for Emerald Isle. Representative Pat McElraft has been very helpful on this issue to date, and I expect that we will continue to have her support.
Off-Premises Non-Conforming Signs
Town staff recently presented a proposed ordinance amendment regarding off-premises non-conforming signs to the Planning Board for consideration. The proposed amendment (copy attached, along with photos of existing signs), would essentially “grandfather” the handful of off-premises, non-conforming signs in Emerald Isle in perpetuity. The draft ordinance would also enable any such signs that were in place prior to January 1, 2006 to be re-installed (would allow Bogue Inlet Pier and Camp Ocean Forest signs to go back up). The intent behind the proposed ordinance amendment is to allow for structural repairs to existing signs so that the aesthetic appearance of the signs will be improved.
The Planning Board did not agree with the concept presented, and instead suggested that the Town should take an opposite approach by establishing an amortization period that would require the signs to be removed by a certain deadline (3 years? 5 years? 10 years?). The Planning Board is expected to discuss this issue again at its April meeting. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this issue.
Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging
The US Army Corps of Engineers recently informed the Town that they will be performing navigation maintenance dredging in Bogue Inlet in the coming weeks. They plan to dredge two shoaling areas in the connecting channel, and also dredge the ocean bar. There is currently approximately $170,000 remaining in the State-local funding account, and this effort will likely require $60,000 - $75,000 of these funds.
I am pleased that the Corps will perform this work just before the 2016 season, and I am hopeful that this work will keep the channel in good condition throughout the summer. After this work is complete, there will likely be less than $100,000 of State-local funding remaining. These funds are expected to be exhausted later in 2016. It will then be necessary to secure a new State-local funding partnership in order to keep Bogue Inlet dredged in the future.
Deck Inspection Class – Friday, May 20
In an effort to expand public awareness of deck safety issues, and because May is “Deck Safety Month”, we have scheduled another deck inspection class for Friday, May 20 from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm.
This is the same class that was offered to area contractors in December 2015, and there were several individuals who were turned away from that class because we ran out of slots. We are planning to offer the May 20 class to both area contractors and the general public, and we will be posting information on the Town’s website and sending out an email newsletter to inform the public about this class within the next couple of weeks. We intentionally scheduled the class for a Friday to make it easier for second home-owners to attend. Online pre-registration will be required.
Senator Jean Preston Memorial Park
The new walkway linking the park to the boat basin and soundside pier is complete. Playground installation has also begun, and is expected to be complete in the next few weeks. Parking lot construction has also begun, and is also expected to be complete in the next few weeks. Landscaping will be completed later in April and May after all other improvements are completed.
Thus far, everything is falling into place nicely, and we are on track to complete the new park in May. A special grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at 11 am.
New Wayfinding Signs to Be Installed
We have received the 17 new “wayfinding” signs, and Public Works staff will install the new signs in the next few weeks. I have attached graphics of the 17 signs, along with the planned locations. In most cases, the new sign will be installed on the south side of NC 58 and Coast Guard Road. Along NC 58, the signs will be installed between the bicycle path and the highway. Along Coast Guard Road, the signs will be installed on the back side of the bicycle path.
After these signs are installed, we will be reviewing all existing signs along the NC 58 corridor, and may remove any signs that are no longer necessary.
Police and Fire Preparing for Summer
The Police Department recently hired three new reserve officers to provide services on the beach this summer, and continues recruitment efforts for additional seasonal officers. The Fire Department recently hired five new lifeguards, and continues to recruit additional lifeguards. Expanded services on the beach will begin in mid / late May.
Beach Access Walkway Replacements
Work is essentially complete on the Nina Street and Bryan Street walkways. Work will soon re-commence on the 18th Street walkway, which was intentionally delayed while the contractor, B&P Services, focused on the new walkway for the Senator Jean Preston Memorial Park. We expect B&P to complete the 18th Street walkway within the next month.
Regional Beach Access Parking Fees Begin April 16
The $10 per vehicle, per day parking fee begins on Saturday, April 16, and will be in effect every weekend and holiday until Sunday, September 11. Residents and property owners are eligible for up to two free parking permits, and can obtain permits at the Town Administration Building.
Regional Access Food Vendor Program
Town staff recently met with the 6 food establishments that will participate in this program to establish a fair schedule for this summer. Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen, and Sweet Spot are working together to divide up the available slots for the “dessert” vendors. Jackie’s American Grille, Emerald Isle Wine Market (not selling wine, but convenience store items), and Flipperz are working together to divide up the available slots for the “meal” vendors. Kathryn’s Bistro was originally registered, but is now partnering with Jackie’s American Grille. Shark’s Den decided not to participate, and it appears that Circle Pizza has also decided not to participate. Food vendors are expected to be on site for the first time on Saturday, May 7.
Beach Trash and Recycling Containers
Public Works has now placed all trash and recycling containers on the beach strand at each public beach access location.
The new “rescue tubes”, most of which were generously funded by private donations last fall, should be in place at each public beach access location within the next two weeks. The Town received nearly $10,000 in donations to fund the new program.
EmeraldFest Concerts Begin Thursday, June 16
The 2016 EmeraldFest schedule is as follows:
June 16 Pure T Mommicked - Rock/Alternative
June 23 Justin Castellano - Eclectic
June 30 Now & Then - Classic Country, Bluegrass, Mix
July 7 Outer Banks Philharmonic - Rock/Alternative
July 14 4EverAll - Pop/Variety/Originals
July 21 Scearce & Ketner - Carolina Pirate Rock
July 28 Wild Honey - Blues/Country/Rock
August 4 Backseat Romeo - Acoustic Rock
August 11 Big Drink - Pop/Rock/Variety
August 18 Naked Knees - What a Party Sounds Like
All concerts will begin at 6:30 pm at the Western Ocean Regional Access. Food vendors are expected to be open during the concerts this year.
Cherry Point Regional Joint Land Use Study Nearing Completion
The attached memo from Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, includes an update on this plan. I have also attached a copy of the draft recommendations. The Board of Commissioners will formally review the plan at a regular meeting later this year.
The “Emerald Isle App” Nearing Completion
We are nearing completion of the “Emerald Isle App”, and hope to release it to the public later this month. The new smartphone “app” can be used by our residents and visitors to learn about the Town, request Town services, report problems, identify local businesses, and more. We are very pleased with the graphics and functionality thus far, and hope to unveil the new app no later than May.
NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant Applications Due on May 2
The NCPARTF grant program provides grants up to $500,000 for eligible parks and recreation projects and improvements, and requires a 50% local match. The Town previously received significant NCPARTF grant funding for the land acquisition for the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area and the construction of Emerald Isle Woods Park. Please let me know if there are any projects that you would like us to consider submitting an application for on May 2, or in future years. If the Board has interest in an application for this year, it will be necessary to schedule a special Board meeting and public hearing to be held prior to May 2.
Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan Steering Committee Meeting – Wed, April 20 – 3 pm
The committee’s third meeting will be held on April 20 at 3 pm. The meeting will be held in the Town Board Meeting Room, and the public is welcome to attend.
The Committee is expected to finalize the questions for an online survey at their meeting on April 20. The survey will then be posted at www.emeraldisle-nc.org and www.planei.org , on the Town’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, and a special email will be sent to the 6800+ email newsletter subscribers. I am optimistic that we will generate a very high survey participation rate, and I look forward to significant community input.
7405 Archers Creek Court
The new owner of this property has begun work on a comprehensive renovation, and is in making reasonable progress on the project thus far. As such, we do not expect to proceed with demolition. We expect the home to have the appearance of a brand new home when complete in the coming months.
Nies v. Emerald Isle
The next filing by the NC Supreme Court is scheduled for April 15, and we may then learn whether or not the NC Supreme Court will hear the Nies v. Emerald Isle case. As you know, the Town prevailed at both NC Superior Court (summary judgment) and the NC Court of Appeals (unanimous 3-0 ruling).
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.
The new decorative lights have been installed in the “downtown” area, and we have received positive feedback about the new lights. In order to achieve a uniform lighting pattern, we have asked Carteret Craven Electric Cooperative to remove a total of 12 of the standard “barnyard” type lights (attached to existing power poles and higher up) from that area. These lights should be removed in the next few weeks. If the removal of these lights leaves any dark “gaps”, we will consider adding a few more of the decorative lights to alleviate any concerns.
Village West / Islander Drive Area
I continue to investigate potential strategies to clean up the Islander Drive area, promote redevelopment, and move toward the realization of the Village West vision in this area. The go-kart track and batting cage properties remain on the market for sale, and I remain hopeful that a buyer will emerge with the resources to achieve the Village West vision.
One small positive note - I am happy to report that the owners of the go-kart track recently had much of the loose debris (old tires, metal, etc.) cleaned up.
Storm Water Relay Pump to Be Installed in Sea Crest (6400 Block)
I have asked Public Works to make the Sea Crest neighborhood (6400 block of Ocean Drive) the first location for a new storm water relay pump, and to attempt to install this new system in the next several weeks. As discussed at the Board’s February 19 budget planning workshop, we intend to install a catch basin with a small electric pump and discharge storm water via a 3” or 4” PVC pipe in the nearby dune field. The new PVC pipe will follow the existing beach access walkway easement. I am anxious to gauge the effectiveness of this approach, and I hope it will greatly reduce the frequency and duration of standing water on Ocean Drive in this area.
Cape Emerald Storm Water Pipe Replacement
I am planning to submit a CAMA grant application for the replacement of the existing storm water outfall pipe from Cape Emerald ponds to Bogue Sound in the coming weeks, and will request approval to install a 24 inch pipe. As discussed during the Board’s February 19 budget planning workshop meeting, this project is not as high of a priority as other budget items for FY 16-17. It is likely that this work will not occur until FY 17-18, however, I would like to secure the appropriate permit sometime this summer.
Potential Partnership To Provide Staff Assistance for Emerald Isle Business Association
I have not yet done so, but am still planning to organize a meeting with EI Business Association leaders and TDA officials to explore partnership opportunities that would ultimately result in greater promotion of Emerald Isle businesses by the EIBA and the TDA. I am hopeful that the end product will be paid staff assistance for the EIBA that will be able to better promote EI to our visitors and potential visitors, help with existing special events (i.e., St. Patrick’s Festival, Christmas Parade, etc.), help with new events (i.e., new “EI Beach Music Festival”, etc.), organize special shopping experiences among Emerald Isle businesses (i.e., Christmas shopping deals throughout the entire Town), and better galvanize the brick-and-mortar businesses in Emerald Isle.
Water Tank Maintenance Work Nearly Complete
We are hopeful that all water tank maintenance work will be complete within the next few weeks. Police, Fire, and EMS are anxious to have emergency communications equipment re-installed on the water tank as the tourism season begins, and we are also anxious to remove the temporary tower from the NC 58 right of way.
Fire Chief Bill Walker and I met recently with Bogue Bank Water Corporation, and learned that they do not expect to perform tank maintenance on any of the 3 elevated tanks for at least 10 – 15 years. Thus, we should not have to temporarily remove our communications equipment again anytime soon, thankfully.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps – Delayed Until June 30
We recently were notified that the new flood maps have been delayed again, and are now scheduled to be released on June 30. 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.
New Sidewalk Stub near Speedway Gas Station
We are still planning to construct a new, short sidewalk stub from the existing sidewalk on the northeast corner of the Coast Guard Road / Emerald Drive intersection to the Speedway driveway, however, it likely won’t occur until this fall. Unfortunately, it does not appear feasible to route storm water from that intersection into the NC 58 ditch system as part of this project. We will continue to consider other means to resolve chronic storm water problems in this area. Public Works did, however, recently regrade the NC 58 shoulder on the west side of this intersection in an effort to allow runoff from NC 58 to flow into the grassy area rather than back into the intersection. We have not yet had an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of that approach.
New Police Vehicles
The Police Department’s new Dodge 4 x 4 pickup truck and new Dodge Charger are currently being outfitted with communications and electronics equipment, and should be in service very soon. In an effort to minimize expenditures in the FY 16-17 budget, I recently authorized the Police Department to purchase an additional Dodge Charger from projected savings in the current year budget. We hope to have this vehicle in service by June.
Unified Development Ordinance
As noted previously, I hope to begin work on a comprehensive review and simplification of the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance in the coming months. The current UDO can be confusing for Town staff, development professionals, real estate professionals, and the public, and my goal is to create a much more user-friendly, understandable document.
Selling a Lot of Emerald Isle Logo T-Shirts!
T-shirts with the new Town logo (including Nice Matters!) are currently on sale at the Town Administration Building. The 100% cotton beefy-Ts are available for $15 each. Thus far, we have sold approximately 120 shirts.