November 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

Special Ceremony in Honor of Commissioner Wright – December 12, 4 pm

We have scheduled a special ceremony to honor and thank Commissioner Maripat Wright for her 12 years of service on the Board of Commissioners for 4 pm on Tuesday, December 12.  The ceremony will be held on the beach at The Point, assuming nice weather, and if the weather does not cooperate we will conduct the ceremony in the Town Board Meeting Room.  We will miss working with Commissioner Wright, and wish her well!

New Commissioners

Congratulations to Candace Dooley, Jim Normile, and Mark Taylor on their election to the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners!  We will plan on a formal swearing-in ceremony for the December 12 meeting.

14th Annual Emerald Isle Christmas Parade – Saturday, November 25 at 3 pm

The 14th Annual Emerald Isle Christmas Parade will be held on November 25, and Town staff and volunteers are assisting Parade Chairman Don Wells with planning.  We expect another great event this year, and look forward to a big crowd. 

Special Budget Planning Meeting – December 18 or 19?

I would like to schedule a special Board meeting for either Monday, December 18 or Tuesday, December 19 – at either 10 am or 6 pm – for the Board to have a general, open-ended discussion about FY 18-19 budget priorities.  My intent is to receive general feedback from the Board at this meeting, and use that feedback to prepare for the traditional annual budget planning workshop meeting in February.  Please let me know if these dates and times are acceptable.

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

We plan to solicit quotes for the replacement of beach access walkways at Fairfax, Beachview, and Whitewater later this month, and we will also be soliciting quotes for the construction of a new walkway near West Landing Drive (to be funded with significant property owner contributions).  I expect to present a contract recommendation to the Board at the December meeting, with a goal to have all walkways completed prior to April 1.

Police Department Considering Implementation of Body Cameras

I have asked Chief Reese to make a presentation to the Board at the December 12 meeting on the potential implementation of body cameras in the Emerald Isle Police Department.  Chief Reese’s presentation will address the pros and cons, cost implications, and legal issues associated with body cameras.  If the EIPD implements body cameras, we intend to discontinue the use of in-car cameras.

Planning Board Vacancy

With the election of Mark Taylor to the Board of Commissioners, there will be a vacancy on the Planning Board for a term that expires in March 2018.  The Board should provide direction on the desired procedure to fill this vacancy, and we will include this appointment on the Board’s December 12 meeting agenda.

Old Ferry Road Sidewalk

The FY 17-18 adopted budget includes a total of $30,000 for the construction of a new sidewalk along Old Ferry Road between CVS and Canal Drive.  We plan to solicit bids for this work this month, and present a contract recommendation to the Board at the December meeting. 

Charters of Freedom Monuments

I continue to work with Emerald Isle residents Doug and Erin Starcke on a project to install Charters of Freedom monuments at a public location in Emerald Isle.  The Charters of Freedom monuments include attractive monuments that include the text of the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.  I expect to schedule a presentation about this project for the December or January meeting.

New STOP Signs Along Lee Avenue?

I have received concerns from residents on Lee Avenue (soundside) about vehicles exceeding the 25 mph speed limit in this area.  I am considering installing a 4-way STOP intersection at the Lee Avenue / Archers Creek Drive intersection, and also a 3-way STOP intersection at the intersection of Sound Drive / Lee Avenue.  The Town ordinance grants this authority to the Town Manager, however, I am seeking the Board’s direction on this issue before proceeding.  Please let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Surfside Realty Tract Acquired by The Conservation Fund

With the Town’s assistance, The Conservation Fund completed the acquisition of this 30-acre tract on October 31.  The Conservation Fund will hold title to the land until sometime in spring 2018 when Federal and State funds are released for the land purchase, and the land will be conveyed to the Town at that time.  In the meantime, Town staff and Eagle Scouts will be working to open new nature trails on the property, and I am scheduled to meet with both on November 16 to initiate this process.  Once these trails are established, we will install appropriate signage and announce that the land is open for public use as McLean-Spell Park. 

Request for Proposals – Islander Drive Land

I am currently working to finalize a formal Request for Proposals from interested development groups for the 1.8-acre tract of land at 203 Islander Drive, and hope to release this RFP in the coming weeks.  I expect that proposals will be due to the Town in January or February 2018, and the Board will review the proposals and solicit public input soon thereafter.

NC 58 Detour

The NC 58 detour will begin on Monday, November 13, and likely remain in effect until early March.  Town staff and the contractor will be working diligently to address any issues or problems that arise as a result of the detour, and will adjust accordingly to promote a safer, more efficient traffic flow during construction of the new roundabout at the NC 58 / Mallard Drive intersection.  I have attached a copy of the official public notice for the detour.

Landscaping, Public Art in Center of New Roundabout

The developer of the new Publix has suggested the installation of bronze egret art work in the center of the new roundabout, complemented by attractive, low-profile landscaping.  An example image is attached.  Please let me know If the Board is comfortable with this approach. 

Crew Drive, Mallard Drive Construction

Much of the work associated with the improved Crew Drive segment between Mallard Drive and Emerald Plantation is complete, and vehicular travel will begin using the new segment on November 13.  The temporary detour will be discontinued at that time. 

Construction of the improved Mallard Drive segment between NC 58 and Crew Drive will occur in conjunction with the new NC 58 roundabout, and this segment of Mallard Drive will remain closed during this time.  The segment of Mallard Drive between NC 58 and Reed Drive will remain open, but can only be accessed via Reed Drive.

Transition of EMS to a Town Department

Town staff, EMS staff, and the Joint EMS Committee continue to work to transition Emerald Isle EMS to a Town department on or before March 1, 2018.  There is much work to be done, however, it is manageable and no significant impediments exist. 

I will begin the recruitment process for the Town EMS Chief position later this month, and expect to post the advertisement prior to November 30.  I expect to establish a deadline for applications no later than December 31, and select the new Chief no later than January 31.  The selection process will be very inclusive, and will include input from other Town department heads, other EMS leaders in North Carolina, and EI EMS staff and volunteers.

New Golf Cart Path Along NC 58 Near Olde Cove Road

I recently met with NCDOT about this new path, and I am awaiting the necessary construction permit.  The new path will be a concrete path on the north side of NC 58 between Olde Cove Road and Whitewater Drive, and will likely be 8 feet wide.  The new path will be clearly marked as a golf cart path, and will remain effectively segregated from the NC 58 travel lanes and the NC 58 bicycle path.   I hope to begin construction of the new path later this month.

NC58 / Bogue Inlet Drive Intersection Improvements

As reported previously, this project was in fact included in the new Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and NCDOT has already begun preliminary design work.  I recently met with NCDOT engineers to discuss the project, which is included in the State plan for construction in 2025.  It is possible, however, that construction will be expedited, and may occur in the next 2 – 3 years.

To date, NCDOT has focused on three options – 1) construction of a mini-roundabout, 2) construction of a full-size roundabout, and 3) lane and traffic signal improvements.  Regardless of the option selected, the project also involves construction of new curb and gutter between the Welcome Center and the Post Office.  Because the available NC 58 right of way is only 100 feet in this area, a full-size roundabout is not feasible without additional right- of-way acquisition and negative impacts to nearby businesses.  For this reason, I have advised NCDOT that the Town is not likely to support this option, and I don’t believe it will be considered further.  There is some concern about the effectiveness of the mini-roundabout option, and NCDOT will likely focus on the lane and traffic signal improvements.

I expect NCDOT to contact me again when additional work is completed, and I then expect to schedule meetings with nearby business owners to discuss potential improvements.  NCDOT will then schedule a public input meeting, and a proposed plan will then be presented to the Board of Commissioners for consideration, likely sometime in the next year.

NC 58 / NC 24 Intersection Improvements

NCDOT is currently soliciting public input on proposed lane improvements at the NC 58 / NC 24 intersection in Cape Carteret and Cedar Point.  (I have attached a copy of the information sheet for this project for the Board’s review.)  This project is included in the Statewide Transportation Plan for construction in 2020, and has an estimated cost of $4.8 million. This project involves the addition of a second dedicated right turn lane on all 4 spokes of the intersection, and the addition of a second stacking / storage lane (both directions) between the mainland side of the Emerald Isle bridge and the old Welcome Center site. 

As you know, the Board previously adopted a resolution (April 2016, copy attached) requesting intersection improvements at the 4 signalized intersections on NC 58 in Emerald Isle, and this resolution also requested improvements at the NC 58 / NC 24 intersection in conjunction with the Emerald Isle intersection improvements.  The Board’s April 2016 resolution specifically suggested an elevated interchange at the NC 58 / NC 24 intersection, however, that project, which has an estimated cost in excess of $35 million, did not make it into the State plan and is likely further off in the future.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about the proposed project for 2020, and whether or not you’d like the Town to provide any official comments on the planned improvements. 

“Downtown” Light Improvements?

Commissioner Finch and I recently met with officials from Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative about potential improvements to the “downtown” decorative lights.  The current lights utilize high pressure sodium bulbs that include a yellow color, and these lights were originally installed to match the existing, older lights on wood and concrete poles.  These older lights have since been removed, and there is now a desire to convert the “downtown” decorative lights to a white light – either metal halide or LED.  We also discussed the possibility of installing decorative banners on the existing poles in the future.  I am awaiting additional information from Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative, and plan to present information for the Board’s consideration at the FY 18-19 annual budget planning workshop in February.

Golf Cart Safety Classes Scheduled

The Police Department has scheduled the following golf cart safety classes, and attendance at one of these sessions will entitle the attendee to a $25 discount on the annual golf cart registration fee:

  • Monday, December 4 @ 6 pm,
  • Saturday, December 9 @10 am,
  • Saturday, January 13 @10 am,
  • Friday, January 19 @ 6 pm,
  • Friday, February 2 @ 6 pm, and
  • Saturday, February 3 @10 am. 

Demolition of Fire-Damaged House on Heverly Drive

Town staff are assisting the widow of the owner of this house with solicitation of demolition bids, and hope to have the remains of this house removed by the end of December.  Due to a significant illness and the recent passing of the owner, we have been very patient on this issue.  

EIPD Plans Additional Coyote Trapping This Winter

Due to continued concerns from our residents about coyotes, the EIPD will be duplicating its coyote trapping efforts again this winter.  The authorized coyote trapping season runs from December 1 – February 28, and we will again arrange for trappers to provide services on any private properties that are interested, and also conduct trapping on certain Town-owned properties.  Interested property owners should contact the Emerald Isle Police Department to learn more and coordinate trapping activities. 

New Position to Assist Town Administration and Town Planner

I continue to work to identify sufficient funds in the FY 17-18 budget to add a new position to assist Town administrative staff and the Town Planner, and hope to present a recommendation to the Board at the January meeting.

Cape Emerald Pond Bulkhead

The Town’s contractor, B&P Services, is nearing completion of this project, with only approximately 200 linear feet remaining (out of approximately 1100 linear feet).  I expect all work to be complete within the next 1-2 weeks.

Annual Meeting With Vacation Rental Agencies

I have not yet had time to schedule this helpful annual meeting, but hope to convene the group sometime later in November or December.  I greatly appreciate the cooperative relationship between the Town and the EI vacation rental agencies, and always value their feedback.

New Parks Maintenance Worker Position

The FY 17-18 adopted budget includes funding for a new Parks Maintenance Worker position to improve bicycle path and NC 58 corridor maintenance, and the Town has hired Dana Gelinger for this position.  I expect to introduce Dana Gelinger at the December meeting.

New Firefighter Positions

We have filled 2 of the 3 new firefighter positions, and expect to fill the 3rd position in the coming weeks.  I hope to introduce the 3rd new firefighter at the December meeting. 

Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K Races – March 10, 2018

Early planning is underway for the 5th annual event, to be held on March 10.

Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival – March 17, 2018

The Town’s signature festival will be held for the 27th time on the actual St. Patrick’s Day holiday, and planning is underway.

Emerald Isle APP Improvements

Rhonda Ferebee, Town Clerk, and I continue to work with the APP developer to complete the planned improvements.  This project has taken longer than expected, due primarily to other higher priorities, but we hope to unveil the new design no later than January 1.

Police Department Audit

The NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission recently completed an audit of the Police Department’s personnel and training files, and the EIPD received a clean report.  We are fortunate to have an excellent staff in the EIPD.

Small Area Storm Water Improvements

Public Works is currently working to install drainage improvements on Doe Drive (closer to Coast Guard Road), and route the water to the Doe Drive fixed storm water pump.  We hope to complete this small project before Thanksgiving.  Following completion of this project, Public Works will begin installation of a new storm water relay pump at the Wyndward Court cul-de-sac, and route this water to the Town’s fixed storm water pump at Island Circle.

Public Works staff will also be installing a new storm water relay pump in the cul-de-sac on Sunset Lane to address chronic nuisance flooding.  This water will be routed to a Town easement between Bogue Sound Drive and Sunset Lane.  We hope to complete this work in early 2018.

Pickleball Courts

Town staff have received requests for the creation of new pickleball courts in Emerald Isle, and Town staff continue to explore suitable locations.  There is currently one set of court markings on the basketball court at Blue Heron Park. 

Archers Creek Watershed Restoration Plan

I have had recent discussions with the NC Coastal Federation about the development of a comprehensive watershed restoration plan for Archers Creek, and will be pursuing this idea in the coming weeks.  It is likely that the Town can secure grant funds for this plan, and also rely on significant technical assistance from the NC Coastal Federation.  The new plan would then serve as the basis for future grant funding requests to improve water quality in Archers Creek. 

Unified Development Ordinance Simplification

I hope to finally find time to work with Town Planner Josh Edmondson 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.