Memo-05-10-2016-Item14

May 10, 2016

MEMO TO: Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT: Comments from Town Manager

Monthly Budget Report

Senator Jean Preston Memorial Park – Dedication Ceremony – May 25 at 11 am

The new playground equipment and walkway are complete, and the new parking area is nearly complete, with paving scheduled to occur during the week of May 9.  Landscaping crews are lined up to complete the remaining work as part of a “field day” for various contractors on May 18.  The new park is really looking great, and we appreciate everyone’s great assistance.

The new park will formally open on Wednesday, May 25, and a public dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11 am that day.  Senator Preston’s family members will be in attendance, and invitations have also been sent to all contributors.  The public is invited to attend.

Land Use Plan Survey Set to Be Posted Online

The Steering Committee has finalized the online survey, and a copy of the survey is attached. The survey will be made available at www.emeraldisle-nc.org and www.planei.org later this week.  We will also send out an email newsletter specifically about the survey, and will post notices on Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

The Steering Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at 3 pm in the Town Board Meeting Room.

TDA Funding Request for Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival To Be Considered May 12

The Town’s funding request to the Tourism Development Authority for the new Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival will be considered by the TDA on May 12.  We are hopeful that the Town’s request for $35,000 will be approved at that meeting, after which we will begin formalizing the musical acts and publicizing the event, which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 24 at the Western Ocean Regional Access. A copy of the funding request is attached, and includes details about the event.

NC 58 Traffic Improvements Scored, To Be Prioritized This Summer

Preliminary project scores for the requested NC 58 traffic improvements were released, and the improvements at the 5 intersections (NC 58 / NC 24, and the 4 signalized intersections in Emerald Isle) scored reasonably well.  The Carteret County Transportation Committee and the DownEast RPO will be assigning local priority points to various projects this summer, and I am hopeful that the Town’s requested projects will be included among those groups’ priorities and that the scores will be enhanced to a point that the projects can be included in the NCDOT’s new Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Special Board Meeting – June 24?

I would like to schedule a special Board meeting in mid or late June for a general discussion about the Board’s “big” goals, as we have been discussing individually for the past couple of months.  I am hopeful that this discussion will begin to develop Board consensus on which “big” goals to pursue in the future, and provide important direction to me.  I am suggesting Friday, June 24 at 10 am in the Town Administration Building Conference Room.  Please let me know if this date and time work for you.  If not, we can certainly select a different date. 

Planning Board Takes No Action on Non-Conforming Off-Premises Signs

Town staff recently presented a proposed ordinance amendment regarding off-premises non-conforming signs to the Planning Board for consideration.  The proposed amendment would have essentially “grandfathered” the 9 existing off-premises, non-conforming signs in Emerald Isle in perpetuity.  The proposed amendment would also have enabled 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 amendment was to allow for structural repairs to existing signs so that the aesthetic appearance of the signs will be improved.  As currently written, the Town’s ordinances simply require the signs to be removed at such time that the sign structure is damaged more than 50%.  The result is that there is no incentive (actually, there is harm) for the owners to improve these signs, and these signs will likely remain in place for many years.  The Town’s ordinance has included this provision since at least 2000, and perhaps longer, and nearly all of the signs that were in place at that time are still in place today.  The essential questions to consider are “do we want to keep waiting for these signs to come down on their own, do we want to allow them to be maintained or replaced to improve aesthetics, or do we want to force them to be removed by a certain date?”

The Planning Board did not agree with grandfathering the signs in perpetuity, and initially considered establishing a certain deadline (3 years?  5 years? 10 years?) for the signs to be removed.  Ultimately, the Planning Board did not pursue that concept, and decided to take no action at all.   Is there interest among the Board of Commissioners in considering an ordinance amendment to address this issue, or should it no longer be considered?

Lifeguard Service Begins May 25

The Fire Department has worked hard this offseason to improve the lifeguard program, and is nearly ready to begin the season.  Training will occur from May 13 – 15 and again from May 20 – 22, and daily lifeguard services will begin on May 25 and continue through Labor Day weekend.  The Fire Department expects to have a total of 5 lifeguards on the beach strand on most days, with one supervisor on an ATV, two roving lifeguards on ATVs, and one lifeguard at each of the Town’s two regional beach access facilities.

Expanded Police Patrols on Beach Strand

The Police Department has also been working hard to prepare for the summer season, and has already begun providing expanded patrols on the beach strand on weekends and busy weekdays.  The Police Department will have one officer patrolling the beach on an ATV, one assigned to the Bogue Inlet Pier area, and one assigned to the Western Ocean Regional Access / Eastern Ocean Regional Access (bounce between the two facilities) on most days this summer. 

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps

We continue to review the draft flood insurance rate maps that will be released to the public on June 30.  Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, will make a presentation to the Board at the July 12 regular meeting and will highlight the changes in Emerald Isle.  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 likely be a formal appeals process in early 2017, and the Board of Commissioners will likely be asked to adopt the new maps in mid or late 2017, after which they will become the basis for flood insurance premiums and construction regulations. 

New Wayfinding Signs To Be Installed Before Memorial Day

The 17 new “wayfinding” signs have been delivered, and Public Works staff will be installing them over the next 3 weeks so they are in place before Memorial Day weekend. 

Municipal Service Districts Bill Introduced

Two bills have been introduced in the 2016 General Assembly session that include changes to the statutes that govern municipal service districts.  (The Town’s “Primary Benefit District” consisting of all oceanfront and inlet-front property owners that is used to finance a portion of beach nourishment costs is a municipal service district.)  Senate Bill 803 and House Bill 1023 appear to be identical, and are the result of a special legislative committee that has been reviewing this issue in recent months.  The two bills include several changes, but fortunately none of the changes appear to be harmful to Emerald Isle’s municipal service district.  We will continue to monitor the progress of these bills during the remainder of the session, and seek out Representative McElraft’s and Senator Sanderson’s assistance if necessary.

Dumpster Service Contract Expires December 31

The Town contracts with Waste Industries for dumpster service at Town facilities and at the residential condominium complexes, and the amount of the contract is approximately $80,000 annually.  This contract will expire on December 31, 2016, and Waste Industries has informally approached the Town about a contract extension.  Unless the Board objects, I am considering some minor adjustments to the dumpster service and will likely seek competitive bids for the new service later this summer and fall.  Please let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging Complete

The US Army Corps of Engineers recently completed maintenance dredging in Bogue Inlet with the sidecast dredge, and I am hopeful that this work will keep the channels safe and navigable for much, if not all, of the summer.  I have attached copies of the most recent, post-dredging surveys for your information. Attachment 1, Attachment 2

This effort was funded by remaining State-local funds reserved for maintenance dredging.  Prior to this dredging event, the balance in this account was approximately $170,000.  Although we don’t have actual costs from the Corps yet, we believe that this account likely now has less than $100,000 remaining, which is likely only enough funding (work costs $15,000 per day) for one more maintenance dredging event later this summer or fall.  We will need to soon begin work to organize area local governments to provide additional funding to leverage State funding in the future.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging Permit Issued to Town

After several months of work funded by the NC Division of Water Resources, the NC Division of Coastal Management recently issued a new permit to the Town of Emerald Isle for future maintenance dredging in Bogue Inlet. This new permit will enable the Town to initiate and coordinate future navigation maintenance dredging in Bogue Inlet as necessary or desired, and  was pursued to make sure the Town is well-positioned to lead this work if / when the Corps of Engineers is no longer able to do so.  For the foreseeable future, we expect the Corps of Engineers to continue historical practice, however, we will also be evaluating future opportunities to bring in a private dredging contractor to complete the work more cost-effectively, ideally with a minor beach nourishment component (with sand placed at The Point).

Deck Evaluation Class – May 20

The Town is sponsoring another Deck Evaluation Class for area contractors and the general public, and it will be held on Friday, May 20 from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm in the Town Board Meeting Room.  The class is available free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis.  There are a total of 43 signed up as of May 6.  A total of 100 people attended the December 2015 class.  

Most New Residential Starts in 10 Years

As noted in the attached Monthly Statistical Report, the Town has permitted a total of 27 new residential units for the first 10 months of FY 15-16.  This is the highest number permitted since FY 06-07, when 43 new units were permitted.  The Town permitted 127 units in FY 03-04. 

Significant Increase in Beach Driving Permits

Beach driving season ended on April 30, and, as noted in the attached Monthly Statistical Report, the Town issued a total of 1,472 paid permits and 772 free permits in FY 15-16.  This is the most ever, despite a 25% fee increase in 2014, and is up from 1,080 paid permits and 570 free permits three years ago. 

18th Street Beach Access Walkway Under Construction

The Town’s contractor continues work on the replacement of the beach access walkway at 18th Street, and is expected to have the new walkway complete before Memorial Day weekend.

Beach Access Food Vendors Begin Offering Food

Jackie’s American Grille and EI Wine Market are scheduled to offer food for sale at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access and Western Ocean Regional Access each weekend in May, and ice cream vendors (Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen, and Sweet Spot) will begin sales over Memorial Day weekend.  

EmeraldFest Concerts Begin 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.

New Small Storm Water Relay Pump – 6400 Block

Public Works is planning to install this new system on Ocean Drive near the Sea Crest beach access walkway later in May.  The new system will include a catch basin and small submersible pump, and will direct storm water through a 4 inch PVC pipe along the Sea Crest beach access easement to the dune field.  I am anxious to see how effective this new system will be at resolving ponding water concerns in this area.

Still Waiting for New Police Vehicles

The Police Department is awaiting the delivery of 3 new vehicles (1 Dodge Truck and 2 Dodge Chargers), and we hope to have at least 2 of the vehicles on the road later in May.  The new Dodge Truck is especially critical because it will free up an older vehicle for re-assignment on the beach strand. 

CAMA Grant Application for New Point Beach Access Walkway Denied

The Town had requested a $21,000 grant from the NC Division of Coastal Management (CAMA) for the construction of a new beach access walkway at The Point vehicle ramp and new gates at Station Street Park. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this grant application was denied.  The FY 16-17 Recommended Budget allocates existing reserve funds ($15,000) in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Fund for the construction of the new beach access walkway at this location later this summer or early fall.  If the Board approves, we hope to have the new walkway constructed prior to September 15, the start of beach driving season.

Fire / EMS Set to Offer New CPR Class

EIFD and EI EMS are now offering a new CPR class to the public, at a minimal cost ($5 for Emerald Isle residents and workers, $40 for others).  The first classes will be held on Monday, May 23 at 9 am and 6 pm.  Each class is 4 hours long.  EIFD and EI EMS plan to offer the classes each month, and we will publicize the classes via the Town’s email newsletter, website, Facebook, Twitter, and the EI App.

Unified Development Ordinance / USMP Program

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. 

I also hope to complete a thorough evaluation of the Town’s storm water management ordinance, and potentially withdraw from the State’s Universal Storm Water Management Program.  At one time, it was very advantageous for the Town to participate in the USMP program, however, subsequent changes to State storm water regulations have caused us to question the value of the USMP program to the Town.

New Wooden Walkways Over Wet Areas in EI Woods Park

There are two significant trails in EI Woods Park that are often flooded after prolonged periods of rainfall (directly adjacent to significant storm water features in EI Woods Park), and I am hoping to have small wooden walkways constructed over these areas in order to  1) create a more functional trail in the park, and  2) more importantly, make it easier to monitor the Town’s storm water system in EI Woods Park after prolonged periods of rainfall.  We have secured a cost estimate of $7,200 for this work, and I may authorize this work in June if there are sufficient savings in the FY 15-16 budget.  

Potential Partnership To Provide Staff Assistance for Emerald Isle Business Association

Mayor Barber and I are scheduled to meet with EI Business Association leaders on May 9 to discuss the possibility of creating a paid staff position for the EIBA, ideally in partnership with the Tourism Development Authority.  Ideally, the new position would work out of the new Welcome Center, and would serve both the TDA and the EIBA (funded by both entities).  I am hopeful that such a new position would 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 expect the Town’s emergency communications equipment to be re-installed on the water tank within the next week.  The temporary tower in place on the NC 58 right of way near Emerald Plantation will be removed shortly thereafter.