Memo-12-13-2016-Item-16

December 13, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Reports

Nies v. Emerald Isle – Oral Arguments before NC Supreme Court – January 10

Oral arguments in this case were delayed due to the election of a new Supreme Court justice, and will now be heard on Tuesday, January 10 in Raleigh.  We expect a decision by the Supreme Court later this winter or spring.

Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station

The Town’s contractor, SunLand Builders, was making good progress on this project until early November, when an unexpected Bogue Banks Water Corporation water well discharge nearby flooded the area where the pump will be installed.  As a result, SunLand suspended operations while the area was dewatered again.  Dewatering is now essentially complete, and we expect work to commence in earnest again very soon. 

We have made a slight modification to the design of the system, and will replace an approximately 160 linear ft. segment of open ditch with a new 36 inch closed pipe.  This change was requested by the adjacent property owner, and we are able to accommodate this request at minimal additional cost without impacting the function of the new system.

Bogue Inlet PierHouse Demolished, Construction Underway to Replace

The pier house at Bogue Inlet Pier has been removed, and construction is underway to construct a new pier house.  The Planning Board will consider an exterior color change proposal (“banana peel green”) for the new pier house and existing restaurant building at its December meeting, and this item will likely appear on the Board’s January 10 meeting agenda.

Work to replace an approximately 200 ft. segment of the actual pier, over the dry sand beach, is expected to begin in the coming weeks, and it may be necessary to close that area of the beach to driving temporarily to accommodate the construction.

No New Year’s Eve Fireworks This Year

With Bogue Inlet Pier under construction, Emerald Isle will not host fireworks this New Year’s Eve as a part of the Crystal Coast Countdown.  We are hopeful that fireworks will return for New Year’s Eve 2017.

Beach Wheelchair Donations

The “Emerald Isle Beach Patrol”, a local social and service group, recently donated a new handicapped beach wheelchair to the Fire Department, and has plans to donate two more in the coming months.  Emerald Isle resident Jackie Getsinger also donated a new chair, in honor of her late husband, Sam.  We greatly appreciate their generosity, and know that the new beach wheelchairs will be heavily used this summer.

Beach Access Walkway Replacements

Town staff will soon solicit informal bids for the reconstruction of existing beach access walkways at Georgia Street, Hubert Street, and Sea Crest.  We plan to have a construction contract recommendation on the Board’s January 10 meeting agenda.  Our goal is to have all walkways completed and open to the public before April 1, if not sooner. 

TDA Funding Request – 2017 Beach Music Festival

We expect to submit a funding request for the 2017 festival to the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority in January, and plan to have the details and authorization on the Board’s January 10 meeting agenda.  I expect that the Town will request at least $35,000 again this year, and perhaps an additional amount that Town staff are still considering.  The 2017 festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 30, 2017. 

Crystal Coast Music Festival Not Coming to Emerald Isle

I had been hopeful that the 2nd year of this event, which was held at the Atlantic Beach “circle” in 2016, would be held in Emerald Isle, but we were recently informed by the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority that it would return to Atlantic Beach this June.  I remain hopeful that Emerald Isle can host the 2018 event.  The 2017 event has a total budget of nearly $400,000, and is primarily funded by room occupancy tax revenues, with ticket sales expected to generate approximately $150,000 - $200,000. 

Coyote Management Program

Thus far, a total of 3 coyotes have been trapped and removed as a result of this program, which began on December 1.  All 3 coyotes were male, and were taken from private property that arranged the trapping.  The trapper reported that the 3 coyotes were all in the 45 – 50 lb. range, which is very large for coyotes.  The program will continue through February 28.

Controlled Deer Hunt

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission biologists have completed the 2016 deer population estimate, and estimate a total of 90 deer.  The biologists have recommended that the Town remove 27 – 30 deer this winter, and the Police Department will conduct a controlled bow hunt on public right of ways and other public properties this January and, if necessary, February.  All hunting activities would occur in the middle of the night, and precautions will be taken to avoid contact with residents and visitors.  I am hopeful that all deer hunting activities will conclude by the end of January, as was the case last year.  A copy of the recommendation letter from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is attached.

Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan Update Nearing Completion

The Steering Committee has likely concluded its work, and Town staff are working with the consultant to finalize the draft plan in the next few weeks.  I would like to schedule a special joint meeting of the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners for Wednesday, January 18 at 3 pm to receive a presentation about the plan.  If the plan is well-received, it would then be presented to the Planning Board for approval at its January 23 regular meeting, and then to the Board of Commissioners for formal adoption at the February 14 regular meeting.  Please let me know if this date is acceptable.

Annual Budget Planning Workshop – Monday, January 30?

I would like to schedule this meeting for Monday, January 30, beginning at 8:30 am and continuing until early or mid-afternoon.  Please let me know if this date is acceptable to you.  Please also let me know if there are any specific issues or projects that you would like the Board to discuss at this meeting.  I will be preparing a draft agenda later this month for review by the Board.

26th Annual St. Patrick’s Festival – Saturday, March 11

Parks and Recreation staff are working hard on the 2017 festival, which will be held on Saturday, March 11 at Emerald Plantation Shopping Center.  Weather cooperating, we expect another big crowd in Emerald Isle that weekend.  Children’s amusement rides will again be offered on Friday night before the festival, and this early opportunity was popular with locals in 2016.

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

The Race Committee is hard at work on the 2017 races, which will be held on Saturday, March 25 at the Western Ocean Regional Access.  The Committee hopes to match or exceed the $62,000 profit generated by the 2016 races.  The Crystal Coast Autism Center is this year’s charity, with 50% of race profit going to this agency and 50% toward the Town’s bicycle path network.

CVS Aesthetic Improvements, Better Traffic Flow

I continue to consider potential improvements at this location.  Thus far, I have received generally favorable feedback from CVS, but have still not received any response from the building owner.  The proposed new sidewalk and island would be constructed entirely within the Old Ferry Road right-of-way, and would not harm ingress, egress, or parking availability at the CVS in any negative manner.  I would very much like to proceed with these improvements prior to the 2017 tourism season, and may present a formal recommendation to the Board later this winter or spring.    

Golf Cart Program Transferred Entirely to the Police Department

Beginning December 1, the entire golf cart registration process has been transferred to the Emerald Isle Police Department.  Individuals interested in registering a new golf cart or renewing an existing registration must now visit the Police Station and coordinate with EIPD personnel rather than visiting the Town Administration Building. 

The Town’s website, at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/golf-card-registration-program , now has an updated registration form and an easy way to pay by credit card online.  It is my hope that this transfer will result in a more efficient process for the customer, and also relieve workload burdens on Town Administration staff. 

Bulkhead Cap Damaged at Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area

The wooden bulkhead cap along the main parking lot at the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area is rotting prematurely in certain areas.  The NC Wildlife Resources Commission is planning repair this damage in January.

Lee Street Sound Access Steps

The Town’s contractor, B&P Services, recently constructed a new set of steps leading from a high bluff down to the water’s edge at the Lee Street soundside access.  These steps partially replace an older wooden walkway in this area that was removed last year due to deterioration.

Clarification – Beach Driving Closure Near The Point

Town staff have roped off an area of the beach between the Channel Drive beach access and the Wyndtree Drive beach access near The Point in order to protect the dunes in that area from beach driving.  The roped off area includes the large dune escarpments and extends approximately 50 feet seaward and runs parallel to the dunes.  The intent behind this roped off area is to protect the dunes by preventing beach driving at high tide, but beach driving is still permitted at low tide, when there is typically sufficient beach available to traverse that area. 

Disc Golf Course Planned for EI Woods Park

A local resident, Andy Johnson, has designed a new 9-hole disc golf course to be installed in Emerald Isle Woods Park (away from existing trails), and is working to install the necessary equipment this winter.  The new course should be another nice amenity in Emerald Isle, and I am hopeful that the new course will be open to the public sometime early in 2017.

New Small Storm Water Relay Pump - Bogue Court

Public Works is still waiting for the water table to subside on Bogue Court in order to proceed with the installation of the new small storm water relay pump in this location, but hopes to proceed with installation in the near future.  The new system will discharge water into the dune field at The Point, and should effectively resolve standing water issues on Bogue Court. 

Itinerant Merchants / Satellite Merchants

I still hope to make some adjustments to the Town’s ordinance, and may present recommendations to the Board at the annual budget planning workshop.

Fire Department Exploring Grant Opportunity for Additional Personnel

In an effort to transition from 2-man to 3-man crews on each Fire Engine, the Fire Department is currently exploring a Federal grant opportunity that would provide significant funding for additional firefighter personnel.  The SAFER grant program generally covers salaries and benefits for personnel for the first two years, after which the Town would need to fund the new positions.  I expect to present information about this grant program to the Board of Commissioners at the annual budget planning workshop.  The Fire Department is currently considering a grant application for either 3 or 6 new personnel, and applications are expected to be due later this winter or spring.

NC 58 Right of Way Between Bridge and Coast Guard Road – East Side

Carteret Craven Electric Cooperative removed significant trees under the power lines in this area earlier this year, and this part of the entrance to Emerald Isle is now not as attractive as it had been previously.  The Town recently partnered with the adjacent property owner to remove underbrush in that area, and we continue to seek to “tidy up” that entire area and give it a more “maintained” and “neat” look.  We will be working to remove downed trees from a few wetland areas, and also cutting all remaining small vegetation, and perhaps adding more mulch.  Our goal is to have this area looking as attractive as the area near the base of the bridge prior to the 2017 tourism season.

Condominium Deck Inspection Program

Town Planner Josh Edmonson will be meeting with condominium complex representatives and management companies in January to begin to develop a new, voluntary condominium deck inspection program for the Town’s 9 condominium complexes.  The new program will likely incorporate the basic elements of the vacation rental deck inspection program, but will also likely have some key differences.  We hope to have this new program implemented by April 1.

Coastal Awnings Sign

It is our understanding that the owner of the sign has leased the sign to an Emerald Isle-based business, and that the sign copy will be changed prior to the December 31 deadline established by the Town.

Keller Williams Sign

We also expect this sign copy to be removed prior to the Town’s December 31 deadline, but are not certain if the sign owner has identified an Emerald Isle-based business for that sign.

New Island Harbor Marina Signs

Town Planner Josh Edmondson is working with the owner of the marina to replace the 3 existing signs located on the east side of NC 58 between the bridge and Coast Guard Road.  The replacement of these off-premises signs was made possible by a sign ordinance amendment approved this summer.  The preliminary design of the new signs is very attractive, and should result in a nicer appearance in that area.

Cape Emerald POA Pipe Repair

The Town recently remitted a $12,000 payment to the Cape Emerald Masters Association for a portion of the cost to repair a failed storm water pipe in Cape Emerald.  The failed pipe was a private pipe, but the failure was caused by poor workmanship on a Town storm water pipe that received flow from the private pipe.  The Town recovered slightly more than $3,000 from the contractor for this repair work, with the Town covering the remaining $9,000 remitted to Cape Emerald. 

Cape Emerald Discharge Pipe Replacement

Due to more pressing concerns, we have not yet begun this project.  I expect to submit a CAMA permit application later this month, and hope to install a new, larger pipe from the Cape Emerald ponds to Bogue Sound sometime this winter or spring.

Recent Surplus Property Auction

The Town received a total of $2,945 from the sale of various surplus items via an internet auction, most notably a 1988 Chevrolet step van.

New Grocery Store

The developer of the new grocery store planned for NC 58 / Crew Drive near Mallard Drive expects to begin construction in spring 2017, with a goal to open the store in spring 2018.  We will be working to coordinate all road improvements and roundabout construction for winter 2017-2018 to minimize traffic impacts.    

Conceptual Design Work – NC 58 Corridor, Village East, Village West

I previously solicited assistance from students at the NC State College of Design to develop conceptual renderings of the proposed “village” concepts and streetscape improvements contemplated for the NC 58 Corridor, Village East, and Village West areas.  Unfortunately, I was unable to secure assistance from NC State, and I now plan to solicit assistance from qualified design firms to develop conceptual renderings to better communicate the vision for these areas.  I hope to present a recommendation to the Board sometime in early or mid-2017, after the Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan process is complete.

Comprehensive Update / Simplification of Unified Development Ordinance

This continues to become a higher priority for me, and I am now fully convinced that we need to embark on a process to update and simplify the UDO in the coming months.  I expect to begin work on this initiative sometime in early or mid-2017, after the Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan process is complete. 

Old Ferry Road - Behind CVS       

I am planning to task Public Works with removing damaged asphalt in the Old Ferry Road right-of-way behind CVS sometime this winter.  The asphalt to be removed is in poor condition, looks unsightly, and is not located within the main vehicle travel lanes.  Our approach will be to remove the asphalt to create a neater condition, and then plant grass in this area.

In the alternative, I plan to approach the adjacent property owners to determine any interest in permanently closing the road, thus conveying the property to the adjacent owners.  The Town has no need for the road, and it dead ends at NC 58.  NCDOT regulations do not allow a connection to NC 58.  If the adjacent owners are interested in this approach, I will present the appropriate Board actions at an upcoming meeting.  If they are not, then we will simply make the improvements described above and continue to maintain the road.

Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging

The US Army Corps of Engineers has not completed any recent dredging in Bogue Inlet, and there are a few shallow areas in the connecting channel and across the ocean bar.  Because there is not much value to dredging in the winter, the Corps is now planning to dredge Bogue Inlet sometime this spring before the prime boating season begins.  We remain hopeful that the Corps will adjust the alignment of the marked connecting channel to a more central location when this work is performed this spring. 

NC 58 Traffic Improvements

We expect the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to be released later in December or January, and I remain hopeful that the Emerald Isle projects will ultimately be included in the final plan. 

Customer Satisfaction Survey

I am planning to work with the Board, staff, and a professional survey designer to develop a “customer satisfaction survey” for Town services and programs.  I hope to begin work on the survey sometime this winter and release it to the public sometime in the spring or summer 2017.

Beach Access Mat - Improve Wheelchair Access?

I am planning to investigate the possibility of adding a special beach mat to one of the Town’s handicapped beach access locations to test out the effectiveness of these products.  The cost of these mats has come down considerably in recent years, and there may be some benefit to these mats in certain locations in Emerald Isle.