July 11, 2017

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Archers Creek West Stream Restoration Project - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is asked to approve two actions associated with efforts aimed at restoring the full functionality and water flow in Archers Creek West, a primarily freshwater creek that flows for approximately 1.1 miles along Emerald Isle from Old Ferry Road to Bogue Sound near the NC 58 bridge.  The attached resolution formally accepts a $25,000 grant from the NC Water Resources Development grant program for stream restoration activities in this segment of Archers Creek, and commits the Town to a local match in the amount of $25,000, for a total project budget of $50,000. The attached General Fund budget amendment appropriates the awarded grant funds and the Town’s local match.   

Resolution Accepting Water Resources Development Grant

The attached resolution formally accepts the grant funding and authorizes the Town Manager to execute a grant contract with the NC Department of Environmental Quality.  As noted, the grant award is $25,000, to be matched with $25,000 from the Town to provide a total of $50,000 for the proposed project.  (An additional $5,000 of in-kind services provided by Town staff are also committed, and these are primarily administrative services).    

Archers Creek runs for more than 2.2 miles through the middle of Emerald Isle, parallel to NC 58 and Bogue Sound.  The creek is actually two separate segments that are not connected – they are separated by a “divide” at Old Ferry Road, with the western segment flowing west to Forest Hills mobile home park where it empties into Bogue Sound, and the eastern segment flowing east beyond Lee Avenue where it empties into the marsh and ultimately Bogue Sound.  The proposed grant application pertains only to the Archers Creek West segment, which is approximately 1.1 miles long and flows through the Woodpecker Lane mobile home park, Emerald Plantation, Emerald Landing, and Forest Hills mobile home park.

Residents in this area have expressed concerns about water quality and aesthetics in this segment of Archers Creek, and reached out to Town and State officials during summer 2016 to identify potential improvements.  The NC Water Resources Development Grant Program, administered by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, provides funding for stream restoration and aquatic weed control efforts, and this project aligns well with the goals of the grant program.  (The Board should note that this same grant program has also provided significant dredging and beach nourishment funding for Emerald Isle in the past, including a $3.8 million grant for the Bogue Inlet channel realignment project in 2005.)  If the Board approves the attached resolution, these funds will be used to retain a local contractor to complete physical “cleanup” work in the creek, including the removal of dead vegetation, the removal of any trash and debris, the removal of any live vegetation within the creek that is obstructing water flow, trimming and thinning of any excessive vegetation hanging over the banks of the creek, limited excavation of any accumulated sediment, and the removal of any thicker aquatic weeds obstructing water flow.  This work will be completed along the entire 1.1 mile segment, however, the bulk of vegetation removal will likely occur in the area behind the Woodpecker Lane mobile home park.  The Board should note that live vegetation removal will not occur through the Emerald Landing subdivision, as the homeowners association has indicated that they would like to preserve a thick vegetative buffer along the creek, and do not wish to have any vegetation removed.  Based on requests from individual property owners in Emerald Landing, the Town’s contractor may engage in very limited work in Emerald Landing, provided the homeowners association does not object.   

The Board should also note that, pursuant to grant requirements, all root features associated with the removed vegetation will remain in place along Archers Creek.  Efforts will be made to trim stumps as close to the ground as possible, and potentially cover the area with natural mulch afterward for aesthetic purposes.  Live vegetation removal will be selective, and ideally only smaller vegetation with a diameter less than 3” will be removed.  Larger diameter vegetation may be removed if warranted to promote efficient water flow.

This work is intended to allow for better water flow through the entire creek, which should also reduce the potential for significant aquatic weed growth.  Following completion of the physical “cleanup” work, the Town will solicit assistance from State personnel to perform biological and/or chemical treatment of the creek to further enhance water quality and aesthetic quality.  If this approach is successful, I envision the Town seeking additional grant funds in the future to complete similar work in the Archers Creek East segment.    

I have attached a copy of the grant contract for the Board’s review, which also includes the complete grant application submitted by the Town for this project.  The grant application includes several photos and maps that further explain the scope of the project.

Budget Amendment – General Fund

The attached General Fund budget amendment formally appropriates a total of $50,000 for this project.  The attached budget amendment recognizes a total of $25,000 from the NC Water Resources Development Grant program, and also appropriates an additional $15,000 of sales tax revenues for a portion of the local match.  Due to the fact that the NC General Assembly did not enact any sales tax changes that will impact the FY 17-18 budget, we are comfortable appropriating this small additional amount for this purpose. 

The attached budget amendment also appropriates $10,000 in donations that will be contributed by three adjacent property owners:  Forest Hills mobile home park, Emerald Plantation (residential homeowners association), and Woodpecker Lane mobile home park.  After further consideration, the Emerald Landing homeowners association declined to contribute to this effort, primarily due to their desire to preserve all existing vegetation.  Additionally, the Board should note that a) due to the desire to keep this project as simple as possible, b) recognizing previous efforts by adjacent property owners, and c) recognizing the primary beneficiaries, the Town has not sought contributions from other adjacent property owners for this project.  These other adjacent property owners include Publix (specifically preserving a vegetative buffer at the request of Emerald Landing and the Town), Emerald Plantation shopping center (recently completed significant work along the creek at their own expense and upon request by the residential homeowners association), the Emerald Isle mini-storage facility, and three vacant parcel owners along the creek.  

I look forward to discussing this project with the Board of Commissioners at the July 11 meeting, and recommend approval of the attached resolution and budget amendment.