The Town has completed the purchase of the abandoned go-kart track and bumper boat facility on Islander Drive (adjacent to the Western Ocean Regional Access facility), and has retained a local contractor to remove all remaining concrete and debris. The entire site will be restored to a vacant, grassy field in June, and will then be reserved for future development. The Town is pleased to acquire this land, and is anxious to immediately improve the aesthetics along Islander Drive.
The Town purchased the 1.8 acre tract for nearly $630,000, and will invest up to an additional $70,000 in clean-up and other associated expenses. The Town was fortunate to receive $450,000 from Carteret County to assist with this land acquisition, and greatly appreciates the County's support for the Town's efforts. Following the clean-up, the Town will pursue the development of a "meeting and events center" in this area, and will be working to combine the new tract with the Western Ocean Regional Access and potentially other tracts in this area for the new facility. The Town will soon begin a (likely) year-long process to refine the project goals, determine the appropriate design criteria and other project parameters, solicit a private partner, and reach an agreement for future development that enhances the Emerald Isle economy, improves aesthetics in this underutilized area, and hopefully promotes additional quality development in this area in the future.
The potential development of a "meeting and events center" will be thoroughly considered by the Board of Commissioners over the next year, and will include multiple opportunities for public input. The Town is firmly committed to maintaining public access and parking at the Western Ocean Regional Access. That facility currently includes 165 parking spaces for beach access, and any future development plans will retain at least that many parking spaces for public use (and ideally increase that number). There is absolutely no potential scenario whereby beach access parking will be reduced or eliminated. Equally important, the Town is firmly committed to its "family beach image" and "small town atmosphere", and any new "meeting and events center" will be constructed with a style and scale that is consistent with current development patterns and community values in Emerald Isle, as outlined in the Town's Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Project specifics will be determined over the next year, but any new structure(s) will comply with the Town's current building height limits and aesthetic requirements. Essentially, the Town will be seeking a private partner that embraces the Town's overall vision that has been carefully implemented over the past several decades and that is consistent with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the future.
As noted, the project specifics will be determined over the next year. If the Town can devise a plan that achieves its goals as outlined in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and can attract a quality private partner, the project will proceed in the coming years. If not, the Town will either use the 1.8 acre tract for other beneficial purposes or will market this desirable property for sale to a private entity. In the short-term, the acquisition and clean-up of the 1.8 acre tract will significantly enhance this area of Emerald Isle, and the Town is pleased to proceed. In the long-term, there is great potential for even greater benefits for the entire Emerald Isle community, with virtually no or very minimal risk to the Town.
Additional information about the Town's progress will be included in future editions of the Emerald Tidings newsletter, and also posted at https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ . For more information, please contact Town Manager Frank Rush at 252-354-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org . The Town looks forward to significant positive improvements along Islander Drive in the future!