USACOE Federal Project
As part of the effort to finance the Federal Storm Damage Protection Project the Board of Aldermen has looked at alternative revenue sources, specifically paid parking and an increase in occupancy taxes for rental properties. While the occupancy tax increase requested is simply 1%, all indications are that this increase will face strong opposition from the Restaurant & Hospitality Lobby in the State Legislature. Both Senator Lazzara and Representative Shepard have been part of the discussions, and Onslow County Commissioners have also provided a resolution in support. Representative Shepard has agreed to introduce local legislation to effect this change.
Capital Improvement/Fire Station
The Capital Improvement Committee met with architects Becker Morgan, designers of the proposed fire station back in 2016, to discuss a path forward to replace the existing fire station with a combined “public safety” building, housing both fire and police. Becker Morgan has returned with a proposal for a feasibility study which, when complete, will give us an idea whether or not such a combined facility makes sense, what it is likely to cost, how it would be laid out, and how we might obtain grant assistance for its funding.
The Town Attorney has been asked to contact Mr. Forman, the project engineer, to discuss our requirements for a “hold harmless” protecting the town from any litigation between the engineer and the design contractor he employed.
A pre-construction meeting was held Wednesday, 2/3, with representatives from the architect and the General Contractor, DPW Superintendent, Building Inspection, and me. Work will begin with the roof replacement on or about February 15th with a Substantial Completion Date of August 15.
The truck haul has been underway all week for the dune restoration project. Work started at approximately 4400 Island Drive and is proceeding rapidly north. A scoping meeting was held on Monday, 2/1, regarding the Phase G project to restore the Phase 5 beach; apparently the Biological Opinion which delayed our current truck haul is valid for the Cat G, and we expect to begin this project in November.
Town Hall is now closed to the public except by appointment. New state guidelines have reduced the number of vaccine doses available to Onslow County, causing the county to have to cancel a number of appointments for vaccinations. Persons over 65 can still register through the county hot line or via email, but exactly when you might receive an appointment is unclear.
We have again contacted County management to inquire as to the construction schedule at Beach Access #2. CAMA permits have just been issued for completion of the parking lot and one Hatteras ramp, so that beach access, at least, could be ready for the upcoming season. There remain some issues with the county’s plan to expand the building by adding ocean front deck area. We have asked that they complete the parking lot and access ramp. County management had not yet received the CAMA permit, which I forwarded to the Assistant County Manager. I hope to get a response on what their schedule is.
The dune restoration situation was reviewed by Fran Way, our coastal engineer, the contractor performing our truck haul, and Scott Anders from DPW. They propose to build the dune across the lot, leaving the area under the building alone. They propose leaving a pile of sand there for placement under the building with less cumbersome equipment. We have supplied county management with a drawing of the proposed placement.
Corps of Engineers: ICW Crossing and Channel to Jacksonville Dredging Inlet Dredge
The Corps of Engineers project is well underway on the far north end. This project is intended to improve navigation, with “sand on the beach” simply a by-product of navigation work. The expected volume of sand to be placed is 250,000 cu yds; however this is an estimate and the final numbers will simply be governed by what’s needed for navigation. It is therefore difficult to predict just how far along the coast sand will be placed.
Corps of Engineers: Terminal Groin
I spoke to Mickey Suggs of USACOE today. His public affairs group has recommended they not do the pre-recorded video we discussed a short time back, but would prefer a “Facebook Live” scoping meeting. He requested that we hold the session at the library and for the entire scoping meeting to take 20 minutes. The Colonel would open the meeting, followed by Mickey presenting permit and EIS issues, much as he did at our Board meeting. The final presenter would be Fran Way with a description of what we propose. The Mayor would have the option of making any comments should she desire. The meeting would be posted on Facebook, Town webpages, etc., and the public would have the opportunity to comment on what they might like to see in the EIS within 30 days.
Mickey believes this meeting would be held possibly at the end of February, but no later than mid-March.
Paid Parking for North Topsail Beach continues to move forward. Rates have been finalized, and a press release containing all pertinent information will be posted in the next few days. Appropriate signage is being placed on side streets and in designated parking areas right now.
Meetings with Department Heads to review their proposed budgets were held this week; Caitlin and I will be reviewing the submissions and recommendations of the managers and will help with presentations for the board at the annual retreat.
I’ve submitted a Capital Grant request for $28,488.75 to Onslow County for assistance with the upgrade of the Town Hall ID sign to an electronic message board to assist in communicating hazards with the many visitors we receive each year and our residents as well.
Fran Way was kind enough to complete our application for a grant of $14,400 to perform sediment analysis to support our Florence Projects. The application was confirmed received prior to the deadline, and we will await notice of an award.
Sledgehammer Beach Run
This Saturday the Jacksonville-Onslow Sports Commission will be holding their annual beach run, a 5k, 10k, half marathon event which will begin at the Onslow County lots to the south, with the bulk of runners turning around before entering the dune restoration area, and only the half marathoners continuing north.
160D – Unified Development Ordinance
Revisions to the Unified Development Ordinance are required by June 30, 2021. This massive project is underway, and I want to recognize Deb Hill’s efforts to rewrite this ordinance.