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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Letters to the Editor Former Mayor Responds To Mayor's Comments On Freeman Park Fees

Former Mayor Responds To Mayor's Comments On Freeman Park Fees

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted in October of 2012 to eliminate discounts for people purchasing annual vehicle passes to Freeman Park prior to April. Rather than getting the discount rate of $60, everyone now pays $100 a year. The overall purpose was to generate revenues of around $400,000 a year to help fund beach nourishment and inlet maintenance projects.
 Freeman Park, located beyond the end of Canal Drive on the Northern End of Pleasure Island, is largely outside of the Town's jurisdiction. They have authority to manage the area as a park. That was granted to them by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners some years ago. There is a fee charged for vehicle access to drive on the beachfront within the park. The Town, by it's own admission, doesn't charge people to walk into the park. They can only charge for four-wheel drive vehicle access. Permit applications are not required for daily passes. Daily passes may be purchased for $20.00 at the entrance of Freeman Park. Weekend passes are available at $40 for 2 days and $50 for 3 days. Credit cards are accepted.
Last week local resident Tamara Cairns posted a question on Facebook page to candidates seeking the office of Mayor and Town Council in the November election.
Cairns asked, "I would like to know if the candidates would revisit the North End rate schedule and reinstate the $40 price break that was given to those who purchased yearly passes prior to the cut off date that was changed last year. I strongly disagree with this and would like a straight answer as to if you would vote to change it back. Thank you."
Several of the candidates running for Mayor and Council in the November Election said they favor a type of discount.
Candidate for Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "I am open to a short reduced price period for annual pass purchases for residents to get a discount. The former Mayor is the one who pushed the $100 annual pass and he also voted against a property tax reduction for 2012. I will support a change for 2014."
Former Mayor Ray Rothrock responded to Lewis comment Tuesday in a letter to the Island Gazette.
Rothrock wrote, "Bob Lewis speaks out of both sides of his mouth, apparently to tell folks what he thinks they want to hear. Lewis apparently tells things that are not true.  It was not me that increased the rates for Freeman Park. Rates for Freeman Park were $40 a year in 2009, and increased to $60 a year on July 01, 2009.  In 2010 that $60 remained
until May 15, 2010 when it increased to $100.  I believe Lewis was elected in November 2009, took office in December 2009 and was on Council when the fee went to $100 on May 15, 2010.  This is the TRUTH!   You can read this in the January 10, 2012 Council Meeting Minutes, page 15."
Rothrock wrote, "We learned the $60 early fee was apparently put in place to accommodate primarily residents to purchase Freeman Park Passes at a lower rate than most others because they had to be  purchased locally, in Carolina Beach. We also learned it is against the law to sell passes to residents at a lower cost that selling to non-residents.  Should a Freeman that lives over the bridge pay more than you?   I do not think so."
He explained, "My motion on October 19, 2012 was "Mayor Rothrock made a motion to change the Freeman Park pass to $100 per year with sales commencing 1 December to be sold at all previous locations and the first $40 of each early pass sold be identified in the budget to be utilized toward required water resource projects".  I.E. Carolina Beach Inlet and Beach Nourishment.  You can read this on Page 7 and 8 of the Council Meeting Minutes for October 19, 2012.  Those minutes also will show you where Lewis was speaking out of the other side of his mouth and voted in favor of the motion."