Islanders ask Sunset Beach to ban parking on Main Street

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

SUNSET BEACH — As the town implements a $600,000 streetscape project, some Main Street residents are asking that parking on the main island thoroughfare be abolished.

Main Street resident Katrinia Yarborough, speaking at Sunset Beach Town Council’s Aug. 5 meeting, said she is disappointed not all taxpayers are aware the project is costing half a million dollars.

“It’s a little much to improve the entry to Sunset Beach,” she said, adding she does not think it’s a wise expenditure of taxpayer money.

She said the first thing the town needs to do to beautify the island is to eliminate parking on Main Street.

Another Main Street resident said parking there is a huge problem and is causing blocked driveways, dangerous conditions for children and bicyclists, and visibility issues.

Council approved a streetscape capital improvement project (CIP) ordinance. Appropriations totaling $729,000 in the ordinance include $600,000 for streetscape, $79,000 for lighting and $50,000 for contingencies. Anticipated revenues totaling the same amount for the project include $240,000 from the bike path fund and $489,000 from “future development.”

The streetscape “hardscape” phase includes demolition and replacement of existing roadway, sidewalk, special lighting and parking areas, and road widening to accommodate a 4-foot-wide paved bike path on both sides of Sunset Boulevard. The streetscape landscape phase includes site preparation, including furnishing all material, labor and irrigation equipment for assorted plantings.

Island resident Jan Harris said town appropriations nearing $1 million for the project is too much “when that is a state right-of-way road to the beach and Bird Island.”

“The taxpayers of Sunset Beach should not have to bear that burden,” Harris said.

Island resident Katie Hovermale, however, said the streetscape committee had put a lot of time and effort into the project.

“I hate to see that much time go to waste,” she said, adding she is concerned about maintenance costs.

Mayoral candidate and former councilman Ron Watts said it was five years ago council directed the committee to work on streetscape.

“So it’s not something that happened overnight,” he said, adding landscape designer Tim Cates is a golf-course professional who knows what he’s doing.

Watts said for a chance at N.C. Department of Transportation enhancement grants, “we have to pay up front. Up to 80 percent can be paid back. It’s not just plantings, it’s safety. We support the budget and hope you move forward with the project.”

Town councilwoman Carol Scott said part of the project is bike paths, which will increase ease of access to the island and safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

“We’ve been saving up for this project for several years,” she said, adding sidewalks will help people walking in the street and get rid of a “hodgepodge of parking.”

Scott said the bulk of funding is for hardscape, with $147,000 for plantings.

She said a resident’s claim NCDOT would do the plan is “absolutely not true. DOT does not landscape street right-of-ways in towns.”

Scott said the project has been “going on at least six years. It’s something that will help the entire community overall, and I hope that you all [council] will approve these funds. These amounts are overstated in here. I don’t think it’s going to be this expensive.”


$796,000 for park design approved

The town board also approved $796,000 in appropriations for design and development of Sunset Beach Town Park.

The park design and development CIP project ordinance allocates $95,500 for park design and oversight, $690,500 for development and $10,000 for contingencies. Anticipated revenues totaling that same amount include $418,000 from a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant and $378,000 from future-development coffers.


Veterans memorial approved

Town council also approved a reduced 900-square-foot veterans memorial for installation in Sunset Beach Town Park.

Town councilman Lou DeVita said the memorial committee did what council asked them in reducing the size down from 1,300 square feet.

Scott still thinks it’s too big and questioned whether it’s appropriate for countywide celebrations in a small town park.

But town councilwoman Karen Joseph said, “They are not saying it is for countywide celebrations. They are saying they are going to be working with veterans’ organizations and other groups in the county, and that if John Doe lives in Supply and wants to make a contribution or wants to buy a brick in honor of his son who gave his life to this country, they’re going to allow that.”

Committee president Gordon Coulson said veterans don’t have a “real location that is outdoors where memorials are taking place.”

People can donate by buying memorial bricks, he said.

“The park is an area we feel will be good to bring people into the park with their grandchildren, to sit there and contemplate what our veterans have done for this country. So, yes, it will be open to people in Supply, Ocean Isle and anywhere in Brunswick County. Once we get approval to do this, we’re going to solicit donations to get this done. It’s a real boon for Brunswick County overall.”

He said no taxpayer money will be used for the project, which is estimated to cost less than $200,000.


Breakaway to the Beach

Council approved purchase of a finish-line welcome banner with the town logo for the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society’s Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach scheduled for Sept. 21-22 and ending for the third year in Sunset Beach.

Event spokesman Jeff Viscount said participating bicyclists will ride in from Monroe and Kershaw, S.C., Saturday and start arriving in Sunset Beach starting around 10:30 a.m. Sunday and continuing throughout the day until about 5 p.m.

“(Riders have) told us they love coming to Sunset Beach, so we don’t think they’ll go anywhere else,” Viscount said.

Over the past three years, nearly $3 million has been raised in the fight against multiple sclerosis, he said. He said they’ve seen the introduction of two new oral drugs for people with MS, a breakthrough in lieu of injections.


Jinks Creek dredging project

Council approved request-for-proposals for immediate dredging of the feeder canal at the mouth of Jinks Creek on the island.

In January, in conjunction with adoption of pier-head alignment at the feeder canal, council allocated up to $15,000 for dredging.


ABC vacancy

Council approved authorizing town clerk Lisa Anglin to advertise a position on the town ABC board with an expiring term of October 2013.

Interviews are scheduled for council’s monthly workshop at 9 a.m. Sept. 17, followed by “appointment consideration” for council’s monthly meeting Oct. 7.


Planning board appointments

Council approved appointing new town planning board members Thomas Vincenz and Noelle Kehrberg, with term expiration dates of August 2016.

Council was scheduled to present certificates of appreciation to outgoing planning board members Leon August and Bill McDonald, but neither were in attendance. McDonald has been in the hospital.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.