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Holden Beach commissioners adopt pavilion usage policy

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Holden Beach commissioners adopted a pavilion use policy at their meeting Tuesday night that does not require reservations or deposits—although they are going to see how the policy works to determine if either is needed.

The new Holden Beach pavilion, or giant gazebo, as some people call it—is on the island under the Holden Beach bridge.

The town will be allowed to reserve the facility for such things as its popular, free concerts on Sunday nights. Town officials have priority in using the pavilion.

But a committee studying pavilion use proposals recommended not requiring, or allowing, the public to make reservations.

Commissioners Gary Staley and Ken Kyser asked whether reservations by the public should be allowed for certain things.

Kyser drew a huge burst of laughter from the audience in the Holden Beach Chapel fellowship hall when he said, “You just can’t show up for a wedding and hope no one else is going to be there.”

Staley said of the policy, “It’s a good plan. The only thing I have a problem with is no reservations are accepted.”

Commissioner Don Glander sat in on some of the pavilion use policy committee’s meetings. He pointed out the pavilion is like any other public park.

“If somebody’s ahead of you by 15 minutes, then you have to wait,” he said.

The same would be true if, say, a couple were getting married on the beach.

Glander said there was no rush to judgment on implementing the policy, but the town board decided to adopt the committee’s recommended policy and see how it works.

Mayor Alan Holden said the policy could be changed at any time if it doesn’t work.

Commissioners changed two things about the policy: 1. No skating or skateboarding is allowed in the pavilion, and 2. Open hours for the stage are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The board restricted the hours for the stage only after Holden asked tongue-in-cheek if the policy applied to the public fishing pier at the site.

The hours for fishing will not be restricted.

Still, Holden Beach police chief Wally Layne said officers would make frequent checks on the pavilion and the pier to make sure what’s going on is appropriate.

Glander also asked, “If someone wants to have a family reunion and takes it for a day, what do you do?”

Time limits could be added later if necessary, town officials said.

Commissioner Sandy Miller pointed out the pavilion is a public park. She balked at public reservations because “if a private group comes in, that takes it away from the public.”

Commissioners will see how the new policy works and tweak it if there are problems down the line, Glander said.

Holden Beach town manager David Hewett pointed out the first policy proposal he drafted for commissioners had reservations and deposits. He said he didn’t care which way the board went as long as it made a decision.

“I just need a policy to follow whenever a group gives me a call and wants to have a wedding, a gospel sing or an attorney’s convention,” he said with a grin.

BOAT TRAILER LEGISLATION

Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden said Gov. Mike Easley has threatened to veto House Bill 2167 and asked residents to contact the governor asking him not to veto the bill.

“It’s not what the boaters wanted, and it’s not what those of us in the tourism business wanted,” Holden said. “Nobody’s happy.”

Printed information Holden released Tuesday night stated longer trailers have been traveling North Carolina’s roads for years with a low accident rate. The bill places daylight traveling restrictions on longer trailers and designates when permits are required.

The current towing law ban has not been enforced until recently, which is costing N.C.’s tourism industry tens of millions in lost revenue while tourism is already hurt by the recession, the information stated.

HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN

Penny Tysinger, planning and development services director for the Cape Fear Council of Governments, has been working with Holden Beach officials on updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“It’s almost like an unfunded mandate,” she said, noting the plan is necessary if local goverments want to receive federal emergency funds after a man-made or natural disaster.

“It’s more than a hurricane plan,” she said, though mudslides, earthquakes and tsunamis are rare here.”

Other things covered in the plan include flooding, fire, terrorism and hurricanes.

The plan has to be updated every five years. The plan includes how and when something will be done and who is responsible for doing it.

Tysinger said she would bring a completed plan soon to commissioners. Then it will go to a state agency for review and then to FEMA to review.

The plan will be available both at town hall and on the town’s Web site.

One update in the past five years certainly worked in Holden Beach’s favor.

“Just getting in sewer has eliminated the risk of ground-water contamination,” Tysinger said.

In other news :

•Commissioners approved a $253,806 lease-purchase agreement for a Vactor truck.

“It’s a big truck that cleans out the sewer system,” Hewett explained. “In the event of a storm, if we should have overwash, the truck could suck out sand in the valve pits.”

The town budgeted $60,000 for this year’s lease payment, he said. The lease-purchase agreement lasts five years.

The truck can also dig holes.

“Even though our sewer lines lie about 3 feet below the surface, this Vactor will actually vacuum a hole around a fiber-optic line. That’s how sensitive it is.”

The truck is also safer, he noted, than a man in a ditch with a backhoe.

The Vactor’s life cycle is 15 years, Hewett said.

•Holden announced Congressman Mike McIntyre is having a meeting for the public with a panel of state and federal veterans from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 in the Brunswick County Association of Realtors’ building on Stone Chimney Road next to the Supply post office.

Staff will be available to help veterans with their benefits claims, help veterans understand what benefits are offered to them and to update veterans on impending federal legislation for veterans.

Holden encouraged all veterans to attend the meeting.

•Commissioners set an emergency-plan-review workshop for 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 12, 45 minutes before the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting.

The public is invited to both. The regular meeting starts at 7 that night.

•When the occupancy tax was adopted on Holden Beach, the mayor said it was decided the information is collectively available but not individually.

“You will not be able to see what each company takes in,” Holden said. “The totals are available.”

•Glander said, “Our planning and zoning board was very wise to wait and see what happens (with a ban on cabanas) on a neighboring island.”

The commissioner said he read a letter to the editor in the Beacon about a family that had packed up its cabana in Ohio and drove it down here only to find out it couldn’t be used on the neighboring beach.

Glander said he hopes the board determines Holden Beach’s policy on cabanas before next season, and no matter what it decides makes sure to get the word out to tourists.

•Three days after it was suggested at the town’s last meeting, public works director Chris Clemmons and his crew had marked crosswalk strips to the beach public access areas.

•The garage doors for the town’s new, off-island Emergency Operations Center have not arrived as promised.

“We’ve got the architect trying to find out where they are,” Hewett said.

•A prison crew worked on a spoil area on the island recently after a surveyor said the brush was so thick he couldn’t get to his destination.

“We were taking advantage of some free labor,” Hewett said.

•Town officials will be making a hardware connection on July 31 and want to advise the public regular service may not be available on that day.

•Island resident Sheila Young said she saw two or three garbage bags next to garbage cans and wanted to make sure the policy is for garbagemen to empty only the cans and not pick up the bags.

She was told that was true.

Young said the garbage bags are not only an eyesore but also attract wild animals.

“It seems some of these rentals are having more people than two (garbage) cans,” she said.

Staley said, “Everywhere I saw garbage bags, there was only one can.”

•Holden Beach resident Gay Atkins asked if there is any current project for beach renourishment.

Staley said, “There is no project for sand right now.”

“I know this board ran on supporting the sand projects,” Atkins said.

•At the countywide meeting on proposed setbacks for oceanfront homes, Miller said Holden Beach was better represented than any other area in the county.

•Commissioners went into executive session after the announced agenda items to discuss dredging issues in Holden Beach Harbor.