In mid October, I was asked to deliver a "State of Our Town Message". I am always glad to honor such a request, and the following are most of my remarks. I had to shorten some because of space limitations.
Good evening. It is great to see all of you tonight. Emerald Isle has been in the making for the last 50 years. I want to thank all of you for your part in making Emerald Isle the great place that it is. I am really excited about where we are today, and where we are headed.
For the last several years, I would say the major challenges facing the Town have been (1) beach nourishment, (2) relocating the channel in Bogue Inlet, and (3) Coast Guard Road storm water control. I am pleased to report that we have had two successful beach nourishment projects, and have obtained all of the necessary permits for relocating the channel in Bogue Inlet. We will be opening bids for the Bogue Channel project on October 25, and assuming we receive reasonable bids, we should be pumping sand by the end of the year. The disposal site for the sand will be the oceanfront from Columbus Square to Lands End. This is certainly welcome news to all that have seen the erosion that has taken place at the Point.
I am sorry to report that our Coast Guard Road Stormwater Project has not proceeded at the speed we had hoped. However, storm water control has improved, because the state has allowed us to pump a limited amount of stormwater to Emerald Woods. The bids we received in July for the initial phase of the stormwater project proposed by our engineers significantly exceeded the budget, and the bids were rejected. The town's engineers working with our town staff and Commissioners have come up with a revised plan, and bids will be opened for that project some time in November. We are hopeful that the revised plan will prove to be cost effective, and that we can start construction on the first phase early next year. If for some reason those bids are cost prohibitive, we will look for other alternatives. One very positive sign is that the State has been very supportive of our efforts to get the EPA to understand our problem, and the EPA is expected to do an onsite visit.
Now I would like to touch on many other things that have been happening in our town.
- CAMA Land Use Plan - This plan has been in the making for the last 20 months. It emphasizes our "small town beach atmosphere", and we expect the Coastal Resources Commission to accept it later this month.
- A little over a year ago, the town took over yard waste pickup from Waste Industries. That has resulted in much better service for the residents, and a much better looking community.
- Public Works, and Parks and Rec reassigned some of their personnel to work on weekends with days off during the week. As a result, beaches, accesses, and streets are attended to on weekends, as well as during the week.
- By next spring, we should have a bike path from Coast Guard Road to Merchants Park on the south side of Emerald Drive, and sidewalks on the north side of Emerald Drive from Town Hall to Emerald Plantation Shopping Center.
- Beach driving time has been extended two weeks in September and three weeks in the spring.
- The town has a new 16 place parking lot near the end of Coast Guard Road that has been well received by residents and visitors alike.
- Several areas in town that were originally zoned "Residential/Motel/Hotel" have been developed as "Residential". The town is seeking to rezone those areas to "Residential".
- For the months of May through September the Town sponsored musical concerts at Western Ocean Regional Park and we will build on the success of that effort next summer
- Bogue Banks Water Company will be constructing a new water tower on Coast Guard Road to improve water pressure and to maintain our excellent insurance rating. Construction of the water tank has been delayed a year due to back-ordered steel.
- Steps have been taken to maintain and improve the economic base of the Town, County, and Region by
- Supporting and working hard for a later school start date
- Working with the military in a cooperative manner to insure they remain the major employer of Carteret County citizens
- Carteret County Tourism Development Authority authorizing a study to map out a long term county wide tourism plan
- The level of volunteerism and giving is a strong indicator of the health of any community, and by that measure our community is doing great.
- I want to thank the McLean Family for their generous donation of soundfront property near Chapel By The Sea which will some day be used as a recreational area.
- Mary Wolfe Isenhour was recently recognized for her volunteer efforts by the Carteret Community Foundation, and Doris Speicher will receive a volunteerism award from the Governor on October 18. Both of them will tell you that there are many other people in Emerald Isle that are just as worthy as they are, and that they would never have gotten these awards without the help of many others.
- Our blood drives are recognized as the most successful of any town our size.
- The Revegetation Committee has obtained 100 free azalea plants which they will plant at various locations in town.
We are having a Holiday parade this year on November 27 at 4 PM, starting at the Western Ocean Regional Access. The parade is being organized by the Emerald Isle Business Association, and Parks and Rec. Contact my wife Diane Schools or Karen Preston for information on being in the parade, and encourage everyone to come out and have a good time.
As with all barrier islands, beach erosion and storm water runoff will continue to require a lot of attention. Everyone wants to maintain our "small town beach atmosphere" and that will certainly occur. As the elected officials have done over the years, the elected officials of the future will have to be flexible and constantly adapt to changing conditions. Some things that made sense 20 years ago, need to be modified for today's conditions, and today's good ideas will not all be appropriate 20 years from now.
In conclusion, it is an honor to be your Mayor. I constantly get praises from out-of-towners, which always makes me think of all of the wonderful people that live in Emerald Isle, and that those comments are really a compliment to all of you. Thank you all for all that you do for our community.
I hope many of you will be spending the Thanksgiving Holidays in Emerald Isle. We are have our "1st in a while" Holiday Parade on Saturday November 27 at 4PM. I look forward to seeing you there.