- Published on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 14:26
- Written by Super User
The $4.6 million dollar Snow's Cut Bridge Preservation Project is anticipated to be finished in February 2014. The project began in October 2012 to resurface the roadway and conduct maintenance and preservation work under the 51 year old bridge. The project paused during the summer season due to concerns from Carolina Beach leaders about summer traffic congestion with only two lanes open. The project resumed in October 2013.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - Each year the Island Gazette publishes highlights of top stories from through out the year. 2013 was a busy year with a variety of news stories landing on the front page. The following is Part One of a two-part look back at stories in 2013:
Snow's Cut Bridge Preservation Project
CAROLINA BEACH - Traffic on Snow's Cut Bridge on Carolina Beach Road/U.S. 421 over the Intracoastal Waterway was reduced from four to two lanes in October 2012 to allow crews to perform extensive repair work.
Prior to the busy 2013 Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Town of Carolina Beach expressed a concern the reduction of lanes would create a traffic nightmare during the busy tourism season.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Contractor performing the work agreed to complete work on the two southbound lanes and return in the fall to work on the two northbound lanes. Even though the contractor delayed work on the two northbound lanes until the fall, work continued underneath the bridge.
Work resumed in October when the contractor returned to work on the two northbound lanes.
The project is estimated for completion in February of 2014 but that date is tentative due to the nature of the project and weather conditions.
The project to rehabilitate the 51-year-old bridge leading onto Pleasure Island began in September 2012.
NCDOT Secretary Gene Conti announced in June 2012, NCDOT awarded a $4.6 million contract to American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa. to preserve the bridge over Snows Cut on U.S. 421 in Carolina Beach. The bridge was built in the 1960's and needs attention to areas weathered by the elements over the decades.
This bridge is being rehabilitated using a new resurfacing technique called hydro-demolition. During this resurfacing process, the deteriorated concrete on the bridge deck is removed in part using high-pressure water, and the bridge will be resurfaced using high-strength concrete.
In addition to hydro-demolition, the contract also includes painting of structural steel and repairs to substructure concrete. The process is designed to protect the road surface and bridge structure from the elements.
Carolina Beach Approves Additional Funding For Pool Project
Rendering of a proposed 204,000 gallon, 25 yard, 8-lane, NCAA compliant swimming pool to be located adjacent to the Town's recreation center. The Council approved additional funding at their November 12, meeting to address additional design requirements in order to take bids on the project.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council approved additional funding for the design of a proposed community pool during their November 12, meeting.
In April of this year the Carolina Beach Community Pool Steering Committee gave a presentation to the Town Council on a proposal to build a swimming pool adjacent to the Town's Recreation Center behind Town Hall on land already owned by the Town. The Council approved the next step in the process at the April meeting to complete the final construction drawings and obtain all final bids and structure a loan and terms with the Local Government Commission.
Highlights include a 204,000 gallon, 25 yard, 8-lane, NCAA compliant swimming pool complemented by a zero entry shallow end, ADA accessible ramp, and 9’ diving well. The facility would be open in the Summer and covered by a “bubble” enclosure in the winter for year-round use. Access to the facility will be through the existing rec center entryway and a covered walkway that leads to the pool. Leveraging the existing check-in desk would reduce the annual admin cost of running the facility. It would also include locker rooms, storage building with an open design, separate admin counter that can be utilized for concessions, and a family changing room.
The committee sent out surveys in utility bills earlier this year and held community meetings including one at the Katie B. Hines Senior Center.
Committee member Duke Hagestrom said, "The majority of the community has expressed interest in a swimming pool – 55% percent are in favor which is much larger than the typical 30% in most average communities according to the USA Swimming “Build a Pool” workshop. A large number of those who said “No” had a caveat that they would be in support of the facility if it wouldn’t be a burden to tax payers. Another group that said “No” indicated their displeasure with some of the Town’s infrastructure and water quality."
Hagestrom explained, "As highlighted in the Town’s Park and Rec Master Plan, the NRPA and NCDENR suggest a pool for every 20,000 residents. There are over 70,000 residents between Pleasure Island and the closest YWCA pool."
Hagestrom said parking can be accommodated on site and for large events parking could be facilitated at the neighboring church or other nearby locations. He said, "Cost of construction is estimated to range from approximately $900,000 to $1.15 million. Cost of operations is estimated to range from $289,000 to $314,000 per year. Income is estimated to range from $232,000 to $366,000 per year."
He said the Rec Center currently has over 1,500 members and revenue projections were based on checking with other pools in the area and using conservative estimates of between 30 and 50% of the revenue they can achieve. He said, "The bottom line is our most likely scenario would see the Town breaking even with a swing of about $50,000 one way or the other."
At the Council's November 12, meeting Parks and Recreation Director Eric Jelinkski explained Council had appropriated $51,000 to the steering committee to look into the feasibility and cost of a possible Community Pool on Carolina Beach. The Town has contracted with Lisle Architecture for the completed schematic design and Design Development phases of planning for this project. At a recent value engineering meeting, it was realized that the cost of this project could be significantly decreased. However, in order to proceed with the design changes additional funds are needed for design and civil work.
To date the following has been spent:
• $ 3,500.00 Schematic Design Documents- Lisle Architecture
• $ 15,875 Engineering services
• $ 28,448.26 Design Development Documents- Lisle Architecture
• $ 348.94 Additional Printing Fees- Lisle Architecture
• $ 2,000.00 Council Presentation Pool Video- Seven Season Films
• $ 50,172.20 Total spent on pool project
Jelinkski explained, "In order to complete the project design for bid documents an additional amount of $12,429.76 is needed. The $12,429.76 will cover the front end bid documents, value engineering design and civil changes, bid preparation and negotiation."
He explained, "Some changes had to be made. Those changes include relocating the pool a little bit to not interfere with some utilities, changes to the dressing rooms and the building to cut cost on the project. And at the public meetings we had, we heard loud and clear that we needed a plan for a parking lot and those additional funds requested acknowledge that and include a design for engineering for the parking lot and storm water."
Jelinkski said making changes to the design of the building will lead to an estimated reduction of $100 per square foot in construction costs.
He said the additional funding will allow them to get an accurate cost of the project once they receive bids from contractors. That additional funding will allow completion of the plans prior to soliciting those bids.
Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "When I went around talking to people door to door, there was really a split in the community about the pool. Half the people want the pool, half the people don't want the pool. It might be a couple of percent either way, but that's still sitting out there. The concern I have is continually on investing in the pool but we still have that fifty fifty. I'm open to listening to some other people. The people that want the pool are very passionate about it. The people who don't want a pool are very passionate about it. It's kind of split the community a little bit and I'm kind of concerned about that myself as a person, just a citizen, a resident."
Lewis explained, "During the election there were some suggestions that, maybe not this pool. When I've talked to some seniors who said they were totally supporting a pool, it was supporting a pool but this design is not really what I have to have."
Councilman Tom Bridges explained, "We probably would not bring this to a vote of the Council until January which there will be new people up here. I think we should wait before we add any more money to this project."
Council member Sarah Friede said, "I feel like if we don't spend it, that first $50,000 was a waste."
Council member Jody Smith made a motion to approve of the additional funding to complete the engineering and soliciting bids on the project.
The Council voted three to two with Council members Sarah Friede, Steve Shuttleworth and Jody Smith voting in favor and Councilman Tom Bridges and Mayor Bob Lewis voting no. For more information on the pool project, visit the Town's website at http://carolinabeach.org/site_new/pages/CommunityPoolProject.html
Hampton Inn Project Going Back To Council For Permit Modification
The Carolina Beach Town Council voted in November to approve a request to build an oceanfront eight-story 100 room Hampton Inn and Suites on the northern end of the downtown Boardwalk at their November 12th, meeting. Now the Council will consider a modification to that permit in January 2014.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Hampton Inn and Suites project in Carolina Beach is ready to proceed but must undergo additional review by the Town Council concerning parking requirements. The Council unanimously approved a permit to construct the eight story, 100-room hotel at 1 Harper Avenue on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk during their November 12th, meeting.
Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial, a real estate development and commercial brokerage firm in Augusta, Georgia, purchased the property from a previous owner who had planned to construct a Hilton Garden Inn at the same location. This site was previously approved for a 191-room 125 foot tall hotel in 2007. The site has since been sold and is a completely different project from the previous approval.
Currently on the site is 170’ of right of way for Carolina Beach Avenue N. and 41,930 sq. ft. of vacant land. The building site property is .96 acres located in the CBD. The proposed structure is 87.5’ feet in height. The footprint of the structure is 22,626 square feet.
A pool will be located on the second floor, along with a breakfast café, outside bar area and an outside seating area. This will be alongside the future elevated boardwalk and will be directly accessible from the boardwalk. The hotel will have direct access to the boardwalk to promote the use of boardwalk facilities and entertainment.
The project requires 100 parking spaces. 73 of those spaces were provided on the hotel property. The developer was asking for a waiver for 9 spaces lowering the requirement to 91 spaces overall. The three public parking lots between Harper Avenue and Carl Winner Street were to be redesigned to act as one large parking lot by the developer to increase available parking. 18 spaces in the parking lot closest to the Boardwalk area near the corner of Harper Avenue and Canal Drive would then be designated for hotel use.
The developer said those spaces would typically only be needed during the busy peak times of the summer tourist season. The spaces would be labeled as hotel parking spaces.
Following approval of the conditional use permit for the hotel project, the Council approved closing a 170' portion of Carolina Beach Avenue North to facilitate the hotel project.
The developer owns property on either side of that portion of the road. Now closed, the road will become part of the hotel property.
Town Manager Michael Cramer sent an update to Council on December 6th, explaining, "At the November 12, 2013 Town Council Meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Shuttleworth made a motion to approve the Hampton Inn Hotel Project with the fact that it met all seven required findings, general conditions 1-4, and is conditioned upon the recommendations of the draft grant order that was listed in staff. Also direct staff to negotiate a lease after 20 years for the 18 [parking] spaces and report back to council what that lease is, preferably close to some kind of market rate and also to memorialize the landscape changes, specifically the connectivity to the boardwalk, the sidewalk expansion from Carl Winner to Harper and the grading of the Harbor Master lots. The motion was carried unanimously."
Cramer explained, "Following the meeting, staff reviewed the motion and developed the grant order approved at the November 12, 2013 council meeting. During the review it was brought to the attention of staff that the portion of the grant order motion that stated “Also direct staff to negotiate a lease after 20 years for the 18 spaces and report back to council what that lease is, preferably close to some kind of market rate and also to memorialize the landscape changes, specifically the connectivity to the boardwalk, the sidewalk expansion from Carl Winner to Harper and the grading of the Harbor Master lots.” may not be in conformance with North Carolina General Statue 160A -272."
That State statue reads;
§ 160A-272. Lease or rental of property.
(a) Any property owned by a city may be leased or rented for such terms and upon such conditions as the council may determine, but not for longer than 10 years (except as otherwise provided herein) and only if the council determines that the property will not be needed by the city for the term of the lease. In determining the term of a proposed lease, periods that may be added to the original term by options to renew or extend shall be included. Property may be rented or leased only pursuant to a resolution of the council authorizing the execution of the lease or rental agreement adopted at a regular council meeting upon 10 days' public notice. Notice shall be given by publication describing the property to be leased or rented, stating the annual rental or lease payments, and announcing the council's intent to authorize the lease or rental at its next regular meeting.
(b) No public notice need be given for resolutions authorizing leases or rentals for terms of one year or less, and the council may delegate to the city manager or some other city administrative officer authority to lease or rent city property for terms of one year or less. Leases for terms of more than 10 years shall be treated as a sale of property and may be executed by following any of the procedures authorized for sale of real property.
Cramer explained, "After review by Town Attorney Noel Fox, it was determined that the CUP was valid and that town property can be leased for more than ten years. However, due to the proposed lease term (40 years or 20 years depending on your interpretation of the Motion for approval) additional steps must be taken by Council (resolution, upset bid period, Council approval) to fulfill the requirement."
For a period longer than 10 years, a process would be used to permit others to submit "upset bids" through a multi-month process.
Cramer explained, "Due to these additional steps, the possibility of upset bid and the time frame for completion of the additional steps, the Developer is considering applying for a modification of the CUP site plan. The proposed plan is to utilize recently acquired property and on site plan modifications to allow the Developer to establish an additional 7 parking spaces on their own property. These changes will allow the Developer to provide 79 parking spaces on their property and they will request the town waive a total of 21 parking spaces. Through the November 12, 2013 grant order, town council has already waived 9 parking spaces, so the Developer is asking for an additional 12 spaces to be waived."
He explained, "In addition to the waving of the parking spaces the existing CUP requires “the sidewalk expansion from Carl Winner to Harper and the grading of the Harbor Master lots.” These improvements will add an estimated 44 public parking spaces to the existing 14 public spaces for a total of 58 spaces in the Harbor Master Lot. Using the existing Harbor Master Lot revenue as a benchmark we anticipate an increase in revenue estimated at approximately $8,018.00 per year for the new parking spaces."
Cramer explained, "With the proposed CUP modification the Developer will meet the parking requirements and will not require the use or modification of the town’s “Palms” parking lots. If for some reason the Developers business model is not correct and additional parking is required then either the hotel or the hotel clients will pay for parking in the town parking lots in a “first come first serve” manner."
He explained, "Staff has reviewed the draft proposal and determined that the requested modifications are within the minor change category for Conditional Use Permit changes, but the additional waiver of the parking requirements constitutes a major change and can only be authorized by town council. The requested modification would allow the Developer to meet the towns parking requirements, but would also eliminate the Developers requirement to fund the redevelopment of the town parking lots in order to create spaces for them to lease. The proposal would essentially enable the developer to meet the parking requirements on their property and not require any change to the town parking lot."
Cramer explained, "The final concern is over the timing of the modification. The Developer is utilizing the CUP grant orders as proof of project viability to its lenders. In order to receive the funding for the project and begin construction in January 2014, the CUP grant order modification process must be completed by the January 14, 2014 council meeting or the project will be postponed until January 2015. The developer currently intends to open the hotel for the 2015 tourist season if the order is modified at the January 14, 2014 meeting."
Cramer informed Council that for those reasons he placed the item on the Council's Consent Agenda for the December 10th, meeting to schedule a public hearing and Council vote on the CUP modification at their January 14th, 2014 meeting.
He explained, "Following advertisement... a public hearing and vote may be held on January 14, 2014 by the Town Council regarding the CUP modification" and, "By following the aforementioned process we believe that the Developer can satisfy the town parking requirements, meet the advertising and public hearing requirements and, if approved by Planning and Zoning and the Town Council, begin construction of the new hotel as scheduled in January 2014."
The modification was approved by the Planning Commission at their December meeting and the item will now be heard at the Council's January 14, meeting.
Carolina Beach Council Selects Retired County Manager Bruce Shell As Interim Town Manager
Retired New Hanover County Manager Bruce Shell addressed the Carolina Beach Town Council on January 8, following the announcement he was selected by the Council as interim Town Manager.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted January 8, following a closed session meeting to hire former New Hanover County Manager Bruce Shell to serve as Interim Town Manager until they could recruit and interview applicants to permanently fill the position. Former Town Manager Tim Owens resigned in November 2012 and was later hired as Town Manager for nearby Wrightsville Beach.
Mayor Bob Lewis explained Shell, "...served the county for a quite a period of time. He's been a part of a leadership team and possesses all of the qualities needed to assist us in the search for a permanent manager as well as help us moving forward in a transition period."
Lewis said, "He came to Wilmington initially from Raleigh and attended UNCW and graduated with a degree in business management and then went on to obtain his CPA and worked as a manager in the restaurant business for several years before changing professions as an accountant in a public accounting firm. He worked for DEG Film Studios before beginning his career with New Hanover County" as an internal auditor.
Lewis said, "He served New Hanover County as finance director for 11 years and county manager for over six years before retiring in July of last year."
He said, "He is pleased to assist Carolina Beach in its search for a permanent manager. His priority has always been the respectful delivery of service to the public. His focus at Carolina Beach will be day-to-day operations, communication with elected officials and assistance of the preparation of the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2013-2014."
Lewis said, "We are just excited as heck to have a person of this caliber working with budgets of upward of $125 million with the County... and a great representative of the County in the past and we really appreciate him coming to help us in Carolina Beach."
Shell said, "I appreciate the opportunity and honor to work with the five of you. I had the opportunity to meet many of the staff and was very impressed."
He said, "These are very solid hard working folks" and, "Carolina Beach has always had a special place in my heart and it's nice to be a part of you all. I will start work in the morning."
Shell led the Town through a productive budget planning process that avoided the need to raise property taxes or fees and included funding for various infrastructure projects.
NC House Representative Susi Hamilton Hired And Then Declines Job As New Carolina Beach Manager
State House Representative Susi Hamilton (D-18 New Hanover and Brunswick) accepted the position of Carolina Beach Town Manager Tuesday July 23. On Wednesday July 24th, she declined the job rather than resign her office.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach announced Tuesday July 23, the Town Council had selected NC House Representative Susi Hamilton as their new Town Manager starting August 5th.
In a release issued by the Town on Tuesday it stated, "Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-18 New Hanover, Brunswick) announced today that she has accepted a position as Town Manager for the Town of Carolina Beach with a start date of Aug. 5, 2013. She is currently serving her second term in the N.C. General Assembly."
“It will be an honor to follow Interim Managers Bruce Shell and Ed Parvin, and I look forward to working hard to serve the residents of Carolina Beach,” Hamilton said. “Having grown up spending my free time on the beach or in the water, I do have salt in my veins and treasure our coastline. This is an exciting time for Carolina Beach, and the Boardwalk extension and new hotel are just the foundation of my vision for what we can achieve. Carolina Beach is uniquely poised for success because of its natural beauty, heritage, vibrant business climate, reputation and management team. I am very much looking forward to making an even stronger mark on the map for us.”
According to the release, "Mayor Bob Lewis said the decision to hire Hamilton was based on several key factors. “Susi was the unanimous choice of Council to take over where Interim Town Manager Bruce Shell left off,” he said. “Susi brings with her a wealth of government and private management experience along with her relationships she has developed at the state level. During these times when federal funding for projects such as beach nourishment and inlet dredging are in jeopardy, having a Town Manager with her experience in the legislature will be invaluable to developing additional partnerships with our state government.”
On Wednesday Mayor Bob Lewis explained it was the Town's understanding that Hamilton would resign her seat in the NC House to take the manager position.
In a statement issued by Hamilton on Tuesday night July 23, she stated, "I am absolutely thrilled to have accepted the position of Town Manager of Carolina Beach, and look forward to working diligently and effectively for its citizens. It is important to note that the North Carolina General Assembly does not require a member to resign in order to accept a full time position, and there are no immediate plans for any change in my elected status. I am extremely excited to have this opportunity, and look forward to continuing to serve our community.”
What does the North Carolina State Law Say?
Under NC General Statute § 128‑1.1. "Dual‑office holding allowed" under section (b) states, "Any person who holds an elective office in State or local government is hereby authorized by the General Assembly, pursuant to Article VI, Sec. 9 of the North Carolina Constitution to hold concurrently one other appointive office, place of trust or profit, in either State or local government."
That appeared to give permission for Hamilton to remain in elected office while taking the full time position as Town Manager for Carolina Beach.
However, under General Statute § 160A‑147. "Appointment of city manager; dual office holding", it states that, "The office of city manager is hereby declared to be an office that may be held concurrently with other appointive (but not elective) offices pursuant to Article VI, Sec. 9, of the Constitution."
In another section of that law it states, "Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), a city manager may hold elective office if the following criteria are met: (1) The population of the city by which the city manager is employed does not exceed 3,000. (2) The city manager is an elected official of a city other than the city by which the city manager is employed."
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau count, the population of Carolina Beach is 5,809 (July 2011).
Tuesday night, July 23, shortly after the announcement of Hamilton's hiring, Mayor Lewis wrote on his Facebook page, "I interviewed a lot of candidates and Suzi was the only one who stood out, had a pro-active approach and had the management experience to help deliver significant value to our town. In a time when the Feds are trying to walk away from there responsibility for Inlet Dredging and Beach Nourishment Suzi can leverage her strong relationships at the state and county level to help Carolina Beach receive consistent funding."
On Wednesday morning Lewis responded to a question on Facebook stating, "The town manager is not an elected official and we are governed by federal law in a job interview you do not talk about a persons political affiliation or voting record. We individually looked at her body of work history and had the town manager and HR manager do a background check like any other employee. Town council members met individually with the candidate and gave the interim town manager their selection for the position. There was no closed session meeting to vote on the hiring of a new town manager. We had Bruce Shell and our town attorney negotiate an agreement with the candidate for the office of town manager and provide a contract. The candidate was waiting till the end of the long session to agree to a contract with the town and we had planned a special meeting to be held as soon as she gave us notice. The media pushed to get Suzi Hamilton to make some sort of statement. We were scheduling a special meeting for this Friday to vote on the contract in an open meeting. This is the same process that took place with the hiring of former Town Manager, Tim Owens. You cannot vet a candidate in an open meeting this is in reality is a job application. The applicant will be working full time for the town of Carolina Beach. She will have a transaction period from her current responsibilities but the intent is not for her to hold both positions long term. Suzi Hamilton brings with her a wealth of experience in management and in government. She has a planning background, managed a private organization, has managed a consulting business and has direct experience at the state level with relationships which will be invaluable for our community."
Mayor Lewis said Wednesday morning the Town had asked Hamilton to resign her seat to take the manager job or pass on the job.
Mayor Pro-tem Steve Shuttleworth said he was surprised by the announcement Tuesday late-afternoon because it was his understanding Hamilton would be in Carolina Beach later that week and a joint announcement would be made at Town Hall on Friday.
In order to make it official, the Council would have to vote in an open meeting to agree upon an employment contract. The salary would be in the $90,000 range along with a vehicle allowance, health and dental coverage and other benefits.
According to Mayor Pro-tem Steve Shuttleworth, as of 3PM Wednesday July 24, "The Town of Carolina Beach and representative Hamilton were unable to reach final terms acceptable to both parties regarding the position of Town Manager. We wish Mrs. Hamilton the best of luck."
Shuttleworth explained, "Mrs. Hamilton has elected to continue serving in the NC House of Representatives which was a term of employment that was unmanageable for our community. Yesterdays announcement and news articles were ahead of the final action."
Rep. Hamilton issued a statement on July 24th explaining, "Both The Town of Carolina Beach and I acted on good faith regarding my ability to serve both the Town and in the NCGA. We did so on information we received from the legislative ethics staff, who advised us based on their knowledge and research that it would be lawful and appropriate and I could do both. My personal ethics would never have allowed the process to move forward at all without clearance from the ethics committee. Based on information received today about an obscure statute specific to town managers of towns with populations greater that 3,000, state law says that I must resign as soon as I accept this position. This changes the nature of my decision. In the past Carolina Beach has experienced considerable political activity. I was comfortable working with the existing Mayor and Council. However, there is an election in November, and elections have consequences. I was OK with this uncertainty when my resignation was not eminent. I will continue to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly and fight hard for my constituents in District 18. I have worked diligently and effectively and will continue to rail against the current majorities efforts to undermine public education. There are many more battles ahead that I intend to fight on behalf of women, children, minorities, the elderly, the disadvantaged, students, teachers, the sick – the list is too long. I must to fight for the best interests of District 18 and all North Carolinians.”
The "obscure statute" that Hamilton was referring to is contained in Chapter 160A of State Law governing Cities and Town's and is very well known since it serves as the specific set of governing rules set by the State Legislature many years ago under which all Town Managers in North Carolina operate on a daily basis.
The Town had authored a contract for Hamilton to accept the manager’s position in May of this year. Interim Town Manager Bruce Shell stated on several occasions the person chosen for the position had not yet informed other parties of their decision and had commitments that needed to be met before making a public announcement. Until that time the Town would not release the name of the new manager.
The Council was previously scheduled to meet with Hamilton one day in early May of this year. They were to meet with her in pairs of two throughout the afternoon. If more than two Council members meet, it's considered a quorum and an official meeting.
The Town has refused media requests to release a copy of the contract that was previously drawn up by the Town for Hamilton's employment saying it would be public record had she been hired, but since she was not, public record laws do not apply.
Democrat Representative Hamilton serves District 18 (Brunswick and New Hanover Counties) and is in her second term in the NC House.
County Commissioners Approve $500,000 Grant For Carolina Beach Boardwalk Improvement Project
The Town of Carolina Beach obtained a $500,000 grant from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in 2013 to help fund a $1.5 million dollar project to make improvements to the aging wooden oceanfront boardwalk in the Central Business District. The plan is to replace the entire 750-foot structure with a new 16 foot wide Boardwalk with all new beach accesses and make other improvements.
The Town of Carolina Beach received a permit to start work on a $1.6 million dollar project to widen the aging wooden boardwalk along the downtown oceanfront and make other improvements such as a splash-park and extending the walkway to the north.
NEW HANOVER CTY - The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners voted Monday morning August 19th, to approve of a $500,000 grant to the Town of Carolina Beach for a Boardwalk improvement project.
The Town previously requested a loan of $499,000 from the County where principal would be repaid through additional tax revenues over 59 months rather than a through a traditional repayment method. The proposed additional tax revenues would come from property taxes, sales taxes, and room occupancy taxes generated through the additional investment. The Town also suggested repayment to the County through traditional methods if the anticipated tax revenues were not generated at the end of 59 months.
The Town later changed their request and instead of seeking a loan they requested a grant from the Board of Commissions.
During the Monday August 19th, County Commissioners meeting Mayor Bob Lewis said in the past, "The Carolina Beach Boardwalk really was a destination in eastern North Carolina and New Hanover County. We had people coming here from all over the place. They enjoyed the greatness of the Boardwalk itself. Over the years with natural disasters... we've had to revamp that boardwalk many, many times."
He explained, "In the last five to six years a grass roots effort of individual residents and the Town Council have really kind of revamped and revitalized the business part of the Boardwalk and today we are here to talk about the wooden part of the Boardwalk that has been a tradition of the community for years."
He said, "We are asking the County to become a partner in a revitalization and economic development opportunity within the region and Carolina Beach."
Lewis said the 800' foot wooden boardwalk along the oceanfront is distressed and in need of repair due to age.
He said, "Whatever we do we are going to have to replace the wooden boardwalk today which is about 800 linear feet and the idea here is, while we are doing that instead of just replacing what we have and the taxpayers footing the bill through their property taxes, we went out and said we'd like to revamp this thing, extend it another 800 linear feet, make this a destination again in Carolina Beach and in order to do so we went out and secured a couple of different state grants."
Lewis said the Town has received a $603,000 grant from the Division of Coastal Management and a $250,000 NC Water Resource grant. The later will require the Town to match that grant with $250,000.
Lewis said the matching funds will be drawn from Room Occupancy Tax (ROT) revenues held in a reserve fund dedicated to tourism related expenditures.
Those ROT revenues are collected from guests staying at hotels, motels and short-term vacation rentals. Each year the remainder of those funds not spent on tourism related expenditures is held in a reserve. That reserve has accumulated $350,000 over the years.
Lewis said, "We've done a lot of improvements to the boardwalk over the years... and those have been more aesthetic" and, "Most people today use our traditional wooden boardwalk just as a means to get from the landside to the ocean side and we want to make it more than that."
He said, "It's taking our walkways from five feet to ten feet to help individuals with disabilities. It replaces our current boardwalk which is nine feet wide to sixteen feet and becomes more of a promenade. We have covered areas for seniors who might want to sit out there. We are recessing the seating and we are going to have swings similar to what they have at Kure Beach" at their new oceanfront park.
Lewis explained, "We are also talking about investing in what we think is going to be a destination for children with a family approach type of park that sits in front of the wooden boardwalk itself."
He said existing amusements are located on private property and that's a short-term solution. In the future the property owners will want to sell their land and the amusements will be displaced.
He said, "We think there is going to be significant development going in there that's not going to really have a family focus. We think this could be the family focus, this could be the destination."
Lewis said the plan calls for a splash park with water features for children to play in.
Mayor Pro-tem Steve Shuttleworth said the project would create a loop for the downtown area connecting major areas such as the Boardwalk and Marina area.
He explained, "New Hanover County would receive a return on investment with new property tax, sales tax and room occupancy tax. The projections we provided previously based on potentially a new hotel show a return of the initial investment within five years and cumulatively nearly a million dollars in seven years on a combination of the property, room occupancy and sales tax revenues. And those are the New Hanover County benefits."
Shuttleworth said all local governments in the County would benefit from the additional sales tax collections generated by the project. He emphasized the request was for an "economic development grant."
County Commission Chairman Woody White questioned the total cost of the project and how much money the Town has in the bank.
Shuttleworth said the estimate is $1,550,235.00. He said a contingency fund is being added.
He said, "That is for the complete renovation and additions. Today we have a $250,000 Water Resources grant. $603,000 from CAMA. We are required to match the Water Resource grant with $250,000. My math tells me that's slightly over $1.1 million. With the contingencies we expect the half million dollar grant from the County to take us right there to where we need to be."
He said the $250,000 matching funds for the Water Resource grant will come from their Room Occupancy Tax Capital Reserve account leaving a balance of around $150,000.
Commissioner Beth Dawson said the packet given to the Board prior to the meeting indicated a request for a loan. She said, "What is clearly before us this morning is a request from the Town of Carolina Beach for a partnership with New Hanover County and a request for a grant for the renovation and expansion of the historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk, not a loan."
Dawson said she spent an afternoon walking the boardwalk and, "Saw for myself the needs the community has for the renovation of the Boardwalk and the opportunities for revitalization of the business district and park areas."
She explained, "Just as a prior Board of County Commissioners saw the value in investing $500,000 in the Town of Kure Beach through an additional parks bond grant several years ago for the completion of the Oceanfront Park and Pavilion, I clearly see that a grant to the Town of Carolina Beach will be a win-win partnership. Good for business, good for tourism and is the right thing to do for all of our citizens."
She said, "This project will enhance the quality of life, the delivery of services, the recruitment of new business investment, which I know you all have been working on, and will benefit not only the residents of Pleasure Island, but all of New Hanover County and our visitors. The return on this investment have no doubt in my mind benefit our county for many years to come."
Commissioner Dawson made a motion to approve of the request by appropriating "fund balance" from the County budget. She asked the Mayor to come back on an annual basis to update the Board on the progress of the project.
Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said Carolina Beach has worked hard to rebrand themselves as a family friendly beach over the years and made many improvements and he believes continuing those efforts will lead to increased tax revenues and a better quality of life for the citizens and visitors.
Commission Chairman Woody White asked when the project would start.
Mayor Lewis said, "Probably in September. We have $150,000 of the Water Resource grant that needs to be implemented and build by October. So the first shovel of this thing would happen in September." He said it would take six to eight months to complete from October to April. The goal is to complete the wooden boardwalk in the off-season and if needed they can come back the following year and install the other park amenities.
White explained, "I prefer to have tourist dollars pay for infrastructure changes like this. That's what the room occupancy tax is for in a variety of different ways. I think a funding model in the future for other municipalities I hope will look to the room occupancy tax or things we can do to shift the tax burden to those visiting and using our amenities on a tourism type basis verses those that live here across the whole county. I think that is a better funding model. I am also unconvinced that this is a quote "economic development" issue. So I'm not going to support it based on that. I am going to support it based on an overriding sense of partnership with a very important municipality in our county."
He said, "We do not have an unlimited piggy bank in this county. Our debt has tripled in the last 18 years and it’s unsustainable for us to do that. And $500,000 is a lot of money going for a good purpose and a good cause today but you add that up over time and you can see how reluctant the County should be going forward to get in the grant business."
Chairman White and Commissioner Beth Dawson and Jonathan Barfield voted in favor of approving the grant.
The meeting was attended by many supports from Carolina Beach. Prior to the meeting Chairman White asked Lewis, "Has there been an citizen input via a public hearing, regarding this request? If so, what was the consensus?"
Lewis explained, "Yes despite statements to the contrary this project has been discussed repeatedly and vetted at several past council meetings over the past 6-7 months. Council has formed an ad hoc committee that is comprised of 20 community residents. These residents come form a wide cross section of the community, business owners in the immediate boardwalk area, members of Step Up for Solider's, The Island Womens Group, residents at large, a local architect, Chamber of Commerce members and of course town Staff. The vast majority of feedback we have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive on the need to repair, replace and upgrade the existing structure. Since February of this year council has been working with the State of North Carolina to secure Water Resources and CAMA grants to make this project a reality. Since this project was not costed into our previous or the current town budget we did our due diligence working to secure grants before coming to the county for this request. If we gain your approval we will hold a public hearing prior to moving forward with this project. This project is also important to those organizations who support individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities we will be providing 10' wide beach access at 11 locations and a 18' wide boardwalk promenade with recessed seating so individuals with wheelchairs and their families can now more easily utilize the boardwalk for their enjoyment."
In September the Town of got good news, they were issued a permit by the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management to move forward with phase one of their Boardwalk Improvement Project and were given an extension on a State grant to begin the project.
The extension was for a State Water Resources Grant of $150,000 that was due to expire at the end of September. State officials approved an extension until April 2014 which gave the Town more room to breath rather than having to work overtime on spending that money quickly to get the first phase underway.
The Town is currently in the design phase of the project.
Carolina Beach Renourishment Project Completed; Focus On Future Funding
Crews finished work on the beach nourishment project in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach this summer. The project took longer than expected due to mechanical issues and weather delays leading to concerns with work occurring as tourists traveled to the area.
Beach nourishment took place on Pleasure Island in 2013. Pictured above: Sand from an offshore borrow site is pumped directly onto Kure Beach. Heavy equipment operators wait for a short while for excess water to percolate, then sculpt the material to pre-determiend elevations. (Photo: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers).
CAROLINA BEACH - The beach nourishment project in Carolina Beach was completed in early June. The $4.6 million dollar shore protection project pumped over 900,000 cubic yards of sand from the northern end of the beach at Freeman Park south to an area near the downtown Boardwalk.
A project to pump 432,000 cubic yards of sand onto Kure Beach was also completed in 2013.
Local, state and federal leaders continue to focus on funding future projects. Even though leaders have to lobby Washington every couple of years for funding, the Town's 50 year Congressionally approve project cooperation agreement is set to expire in 2014.
Currently 65 percent is paid by the federal government with the remaining 35 percent funded by state and local governments.
In New Hanover County, a portion of the room occupancy tax on hotel, motel and short-term vacation rentals goes towards funding nourishment projects.
In light of the issues involved in securing continued federal funding, New Hanover County adopted a contingency plan last year that would allow continued nourishment of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach using non-federal funds. Under an interlocal agreement between the County and the three beach towns, if funding is not provided by the Federal Government in the future, all three beach towns agreed to provide 17.5% of the funds needed for periodic nourishment of their beaches. The remaining balance of 82.5% would be covered by New Hanover County and possibly the State of North Carolina.
In the absence of state funding, the entire 82.5% balance would be assumed by the County. The County would use Room Occupancy Tax revenues realized from a tax on hotels, motels and short-term vacation rentals.
A consultant informed the Town Council earlier this year that in the worst case scenario with the absence of both federal and state funding, and the County paying 82.5% of the cost for such projects would require the Town to put away around $550,000 per year to cover an estimated $22 million dollars required over a 40 year period. That's one and half to two million dollars every three years.
In the proposed 2013-2014 Carolina Beach budget, $350,000 of anticipated revenues from Freeman Park vehicle passes of around $1.2 million is designated towards beach nourishment funding. Yet that leaves a shortfall to reach the $550,000 estimated each year towards future projects.
Other options included legislation in the State House that would permit the Town to collect an additional 1% room occupancy tax to fund tourism promotion and beach nourishment projects.
Other potential revenue sources included an additional sales tax if permitted by the state legislature and raising the property tax rate.
On December 2, the Town of Carolina Beach called upon residents to help communicate the need for continued beach nourishment funding.
In a letter mailed to property owners Mayor Bob Lewis wrote, "As a property owner of the Town of Carolina Beach, you may be aware that the town is looking at all options to secure funding for Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Projects. Without Congressional action, funding for the Carolina Beach project will expire in 2014."
Lewis explained, "Under current law, shoreline protection projects are authorized with cost-sharing participation by the federal government for a period of 50 years. Starting in 2014, the Congressionally authorized Carolina Beach Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project will reach the end of its 50-year authorization."
He wrote, "The Senate is considering a measure which contains an evaluation procedure that provides an option for extending the federal cost-sharing requirement for an additional 15 years. I am writing to you today to ask for your assistance and to take this opportunity to contact your Senators in support of the Senate-passed version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would provide an option for extending the federal government’s participation in all of the nation’s Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Projects, including the one in Carolina Beach, NC. Senator Richard Burr can be reached at 202-224-3154 or by fax at 202-228-2981."
Carolina Beach Gets Permission To Use Beach Rake Throughout Year
The Town of Carolina Beach invited state officials to view a demonstration of a mechanical beach rake earlier this month in an effort to get permission to use it more than twice a year. The Town received a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service giving permission for more frequent use throughout the year.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach utilized their mechanical beach rake and tractor to clean the beach following the Labor Day holiday weekend.
That was the first time the Town had been able to clean the beach following a major holiday weekend.
On Thursday September 5th, the Town cleaned an area near the downtown Boardwalk and within Freeman Park at the northern end of the Island.
The Town of Carolina received positive news earlier this year from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can now use their mechanical beach rake on a more frequent schedule to clean the beach of litter and debris. For the area between Harper Avenue south to Hamlet Avenue (along the boardwalk) the Town can use the rake after major holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) and the Town's beach music festival. Raking could occur for two consecutive days if needed. For Freeman Park, raking is permitted during the sea turtle nesting season (May 1 to November 15) each year and limited to one day a month, plus two consecutive days after each major holiday (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) as needed.
The Town Council voted to purchase the beach rake in September of 2004. The plan was to use a four-wheel drive John Deere 5520 tractor to pull the rake to smooth the sand on the beachfront each morning while picking up trash and other debris such as cigarette buts. The tractor was purchased from Wilmington Lawn & Leisure at a cost of $27,167.00. The Barber HD600 Surf Rake was purchased from the manufacturer (Barber) at a cost of $39,740.00 by "piggy backing" on bids to Myrtle Beach, SC, and Hampton, VA.
Following the purchases, the Town was informed by he North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources they would not permit regular operation of the beach rake and tractor due to the possibility of harming sea turtle nests and shore birds. The Town hoped to sell the rake to Myrtle Beach, SC for $39,740.00 - the same amount it paid for the equipment, but Myrtle Beach turned down the offer.
In 2006 the Town met with representatives from NC Fish and Wildlife and still the Town was only allowed to use the rake twice a year outside of turtle nesting season from November to April. Turtle nesting takes place during the late spring, summer and early fall months. The Town had a state permit to use the rake twice a year which was due to expire in December 2014.
Due to increasing numbers of visitors resulting in trash on the beach, particularly in Freeman Park on the North End of the Island, the Town requested to use the rake once a week in Freeman Park and in an area of the beach in the downtown district.
Freeman Park permits four-wheel drive access to the beachfront for a daily or annual fee. Camping is permitted in certain areas. In 2012 over 8,000 annual passes and 18,500 daily passes were sold with a monthly average of 2,200 vehicles entering the park. For the July 4th weekend, over 3,500 vehicles used the park. The Town picks up trashcans but using the beach rake would allow capturing of smaller items like cigarette butts, bottle caps, etc.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he hopes the rake program will serve as a pilot program that will benefit the environment and beachgoers with a clean beach.
Carolina Beach Council Announces Hiring New Town Manager
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council announced a decision to hire Michael Bryan Cramer of Menominee, Michigan as the new Town Manager following a closed session at their September 17th, meeting.
Cramer was not present at the meeting but Council directed Interim Manager Ed Parvin to contact him during the meeting to discuss signing an employment contract. Parvin announced later that evening he made contact and said Cramer was looking forward to serving Carolina Beach.
He previously held the position of City Manager for the City of Menominee, Michigan.
The position in Carolina Beach had been vacant since former Town Manager Tim Owens resigned in November of 2012.
Cramer submitted his resume and cover letter in February of this year.
He explained, "I am a highly motivated City Manager in Menominee, Michigan, who is searching for a progressive, customer service oriented and results driven community to positively contribute too. I would welcome an opportunity to talk to you about the Town Manager position and the possibility of advancing my career in local government administration."
He explained, "My previous and current experience in local government administration has been extensive and includes budget and financial management, public works administration and operations, intergovernmental relations and economic and community development. I was encouraged to read that Carolina Beach is looking for a strong, open and dynamic leader. These are just a few of the leadership abilities that I would bring to your community."
Cramer explained, "I am a very self-confident and visionary leader who can see the big picture without losing the details of implementation. I am outgoing, personable, relate well to others and pride myself on being a participatory problem solver, who enjoys working with others to find the best way to resolve issues. I am an enthusiastic, “out front” individual who is respectful of people, approachable and accessible. I have effective collaborative management skills with no hidden agendas; who is comfortable in delegating responsibility and authority to professional staff as a team player, not a micro-manager. I treat all employees alike and hold staff accountable for actions and policy direction. I promote a strong, service-oriented, “customer relations’ approach by all municipal employees in dealing with residents, visitors, the business community and all individuals who access governmental services and programs."
Cramer earned a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Political Science Major, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
He has sixteen years experience in local government management. Prior to serving as manager for the City of Menominee he was Business and Operations Division Manager for the City of Greensboro Department of Transportation.
He also held the positions of Stormwater Management Financial Manager and Interim Storm Water Services Financial Analyst for the City of Greensboro.
Some of the many accomplishments listed in his resume include:
• Encouraged continued business growth through the implementation of several Tax Abatement Resolutions that contributed to the increase of 20,000 sqft of new manufacturing and industrial capacity, 53 new jobs and $7,421,076 of new investment to the City of Menominee.
• Successfully represented the City of Menominee in attracting a private developer to invest $12,000,000 to redevelop a past manufacturing plant into a mixed use residential facility in the Historic
Downtown using Low Income Housing Tax Credits through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Project will increase residential development downtown by 54 units and 3 commercial locations.
• Successfully developed and managed City of Greensboro Department of Transportation Annual Budget of $32 million to $48 million.
• Development of Annual Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget for General Fund, Special Revenue
Funds, Enterprise Funds and Other Funds. Total Budget $14 million for Fiscal 2012-2013.
Carolina Beach Awards Bid For Water Meter Replacement Project
The Carolina Beach Town Council awarded a $1,451,189.50 bid to Herring-Rivenbark Incorporated of Kinston, NC, on August 13, to conduct an Automated Meter Replacement Project. The project will replace older water meters and install a remote reading system. That project is ongoing.
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council awarded a $1,451,189.50 bid to Herring-Rivenbark Incorporated of Kinston, NC, on August 13, to conduct an Automated Meter Replacement Project. The project will replace older water meters and install a remote system that allows meter readings to be reported to Town Hall electronically rather than taken manually by personnel walking the streets. The Council advertised and received four bids ranging from $1.7
million to $1.4 million.
Town officials anticipate the new meters and reporting system will improve accuracy and efficiency. Meters older than ten years often give inaccurate readings. Customers with meters that have not been reporting accurately will see their monthly water and sewer charges go up.
During the Council's February 19, meeting the Council was informed of an opportunity to obtain a zero interest loan from the State Public Water Supply Branch of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cover a portion of the project.
The plan will essentially create a town-wide network allowing the billing department to monitor and log water use.
When the project is completed, the Town of Carolina Beach would own and operate a functional and upgradeable Fixed Network Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) System capable of utilizing several types of meters and meter manufacturers.
The network will consist of a series of data collector units (DCU) located strategically throughout the Town that will communicate with the meters using a radio signal.
The network will also include leak detection, flagging large usage, numerous accounting features and tamper alarms. Earlier this year Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said it could potentially be 4,000 meters although some meters are newer than others.
New meters recently installed are compatible with the new fixed network systems currently available. Older meters will have to be replaced.
At the Council's February 19, meeting Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "We're talking about installing these electronic meters that we think are going to be self funded in the end by the money we are saving on accurate meter reading and increases in revenue that maybe we had lost because meters aren't successfully reading everything. That should make up for the investment we make in electronics."
He explained, "We also have the advantage of leveraging labor that goes out and reads every meter today... every 4,500 properties each month and utilize those individuals to do some other things to actually improve the water system rather than just reading meters. There's a couple of advantages to this thing its not just spending money."
In February Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "As we move forward with that, I would just like us to be proactive with communicating with our residents as we start to look towards... putting those in that we let people know [they] might see a modification to their bill based on the fact that we have an accurate" reading.
He said, "We are not raising the rate, but there is good likelihood that a lot of people will get a bigger bill" and, " When we get to the point of putting these things in we need to
let our residents know that just because your bill went up doesn’t mean we raised the rate."
Earlier this year the Town replaced 19 meters and came up with a million gallons of new water usage in a 90 to 120 period.
Council member Sarah Friede said, "People have gotten a lot of water over the years for free from the Town. Not everybody, but some certainly have."
At the Council's August 13, meeting, Mayor Bob Lewis said the Town qualified for a zero interest loan under the Federal Clean Water Act to fund the project. He said, "This is kind of the first step in our comprehensive water and sewer upgrade plan that we've been working on for the last year."
Construction will begin in mid-September. The contractors will begin surveying and inspecting/locating water and sewer lines throughout Carolina Beach.
Water meter change-outs began during the first week of October (starting on Canal Drive) and continue through March. All Town customers will be getting a new water meter for the automated reading system. If you have any questions, please contact the Billing Department at 910-458-2983 or 910-458-4821.
Carolina Beach Police Conduct Training At Elementary School
The Carolina Beach Police Department held Rapid Deployment School Shooter Training at the Carolina Beach Elementary School during Spring Break, March 25th through the 29th. The training offered officers the opportunity to conduct drills for various emergency situations including an armed individual on school grounds. Carolina Beach Police Detective Derek Moore said the training was held when kids were on Spring Break to practice in a realistic environment. Moore thanked the 27 volunteers that came out to participate in the events which were held Tuesday thru Friday.
Moore said the citizens - including two children and their parents - along with the staff of Carolina Beach Elementary School and staff from Coddington Elementary and students with the UNCW Nursing Program all helped to make it a successful training program. Moore said the students from UNCW are actually working on a project concerning school shootings and will incorporate the experience into their research. Volunteers served as victims, witnesses, staff, suspects and other roles to help create a detailed training scenario. The Carolina Beach Town Council approved funding an officer to be stationed at the school for the remainder of this school year following concerns raised in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Carolina Beach Council Meetings Broadcast Online
Carolina Beach Town Council meetings are currently broadcast on Beach TV Channel 3: Tuesdays at 7:00 pm and New Hanover County Government Access Channel 5: Fridays at 7:00 am and Sundays at 6:00 pm. At the Council's Tuesday May 14, meeting the Council voted to move forward with a plan to broadcast their meetings live on the Internet. You can now view the meetings live and in an online archive anytime by visiting www.carolinabeach.org
Dow Road Project Complete
A $1.6 million dollar project to widen Dow Road on Pleasure Island was completed in 2013. The project widened the state highway and added turn lanes at high-traffic intersections including Cape Fear Blvd, Harper Avenue and Ocean Blvd.
Kure Beach Oceanfront Park Opens
Kure Beach held its grand opening celebration for the new Ocean Front Park on Friday, April 26, followed by the annual street festival on Saturday, April 27. The project was delayed for an extended period of time. The Town terminated their original contractor due to various issues and a new contractor took over.
New Bus Route To Carolina Beach
The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority has expanded service to Pleasure Island and the Leland area in 2013 while eliminating service to Belville in Brunswick County and the Wilmington neighborhood of Creekwood. The new routes began Sunday February 3, along with a fare increase from $1.50 to $2.00 per adult rider. The new route to Pleasure Island only has stops as far south as Carolina Beach. People in Kure Beach must make their way into Carolina Beach in order to catch the bus to Monkey Junction and then connect via another bus into the rest of the Wave Transit system serving Wilmington and New Hanover County.
Carolina Beach Fire Department Expansion
The Carolina Beach Fire Department held a ground breaking ceremony for a $1.3 million dollar station expansion project on Monday night June 24th. The event hosted local elected leaders, Town officials, members of the fire department and their families. The project is is underway.
No major hurricanes or tropical storms this year but the Town of Carolina Beach, New Hanover County and North Carolina Emergency Management held a hurricane training exercise on Thursday August 29th at Town Hall. The exercise was designed to inform town department heads and staff members of their roles in the event of a hurricane and activation of the Town's Emergency Operations Center. (EOC). The event brought together police, fire and administrative personnel to work through scenarios and train on how to handle documentation required following the storm including filling out Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) documents to log damage throughout the Town. While the exercise isn't as real as an actual event, it serves to help the various departments plan for coordinating their efforts before, during and after a storm has passed. That includes damage assessments, managing resources and personnel, and restoring services such as water and sewer.
Buddy Guy Headlines The 20th Annual Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival
Blues legend Buddy Guy was the headline act for the 20th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival October 12th and 13th at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area.