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Carolina Beach Tests Additional Parking; Selects Cape Fear Blvd Streetscape Plan

The Carolina Beach Town Council adopted a streetscape plan at their August 26th, meeting. Last week Town vehicles were parked along the center of Cape Fear Blvd to test if additional parking could be placed in the center turn lane. That proved to be a tight fit for vehicles, not to mention large fire trucks.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council held an early morning meeting August 26, to get public input on a new streetscape project for Cape Fear Blvd.
The Council discussed a proposed streetscape project to make improvements along Cape Fear Blvd at their August 13, meeting. The Council decided on two potential proposals and a need to solicit more input from residents living on that road.
The Town will be upgrading underground utilities on several right-of-ways this fall as part of a larger project to replace old water and sewer infrastructure. A portion of the upgrades will include the 100 block and 500 block of Cape Fear Blvd which will give the town an opportunity to improve the current streetscape.
The improvements for Cape Fear Blvd will include street trees, wider sidewalks, and a multi-use path. Parking will not be added in the center turn lane.
Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin explained, "We went back after last meeting and looked at a couple of options you wanted us to look at. One of them was angled parking and one of the was parallel parking with the angled parking in the center. We looked at it on paper and we also went out and actually saw how it would work on Cape Fear Blvd."
Parvin explained, "I think the comments that came back is this is a more urban design that would fit in an urban environment but comments I heard were to drastic of a change and although you can see it would work, you could fit through there, traffic was just barely squeaking by trying to get through there so it was pretty tight."
Parvin said, "The comments we heard were we want parking... safety for pedestrians and we don't want to see a lot of change. Those are the three comments we heard allot."
Parvin said, "This is pretty much the same design, the difference is you have wider sidewalks on the side. You have the ten foot multi-modal sidewalk on the side, you still have your landscape strip, you've narrowed down some of your drive isles but you still have your center lane so you are not going to really feel it."
He said the "drive isle" will be reduced from 16' down to 12'. A 10' multi-use-path would run along the south side of Cape Fear Blvd. from Canal Drive west to Dow Road. 
He said the center lane is primarily used for delivery trucks.
In some areas of Cape Fear Blvd the sidewalk is right up to the front steps of a couple of houses.
It was pointed out during the meeting the multi-use path would simply widen those sidewalks towards the roadway. A landscaped area would separate the path from the road including grass and trees.
Several residents expressed concern about who would maintain the new landscaped area and trees. One resident said she did not want trees placed in front of her property  because they would get in the way of a trailer they use to transport a racecar.
Council member Sarah Friede said they hope narrowing the lanes will help slow down traffic by promoting a more residential atmosphere.
Mayor Bob Lewis said the Town may consider lowering the speed limit along the road from 35mph to 25.
Lewis said some people don't like the trees because it blocks the view.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he was willing to work with particular neighbors about where to put trees but was not in favor of simply eliminating trees from the plan entirely in the buffer between the path and the roadway.
He said trees will add additional maintenance for the Town. He favored hearing more on the issue.
Tom Bridges said trees help the environment.
Former Police Chief Kurt Bartley said the Town currently does not really maintain trees and shrubs throughout Town. He said, "If we are going to plant trees, let's plant
trees that are less prone to dying or creating a lower atmosphere where you can't see coming around the corner. If you are going to do trees, do the right trees. Right now I mow the grass in the right-of-way and when you go to put trees in there, who's going to maintain that area?"
Bartley said, "On Fourth Street we have a major problem. On my lot... it’s concrete up to the road. There's a drainage grate. The water runs off the pavement straight into the sidewalk."
He said, "When you get a rain it doesn't even get to the manholes or the grates, it just floods the whole sidewalk."
He said, "I think we need to look at the drainage part of it also."
It was pointed out that if property owners have landscaping within the project area, it would be removed. That includes trees.
The Council approved the multi-us-path along the south side of Cape Fear Blvd from Canal Drive west to Dow Road with the condition that Town staff come back with a specific landscape plan and options for trees to plant in the buffer between the path and the road surface.
Mayor Lewis said once the drawings are done, it would be a good idea to speak with property owners to hear any objections and get input.