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Shallotte to seek state grants for waterfront development, access

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Shallotte is continuing its efforts to put the town’s 10-year vision plan into place by applying for grants from the state, hoping to tap into the Division of Coastal Management’s (DCM) Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program.

At its December meeting, the town board voted unanimously to allow staff to begin the application process.

According to DCM, the division awards about $1 million a year in matching grants to local governments for projects to improve pedestrian access to beaches and waterways. Funding comes from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

In addition to providing public access facilities, local governments can use the funds to help acquire land for access sites or to revitalize urban waterfronts.

Town administrator Paul Sabiston told aldermen, “I don’t want to be too shy on these applications. I’d rather be more aggressive.”

Sabiston said the town has a good shot at some type of grant funding since it has a detailed document, the vision plan, to back up its requests.

The vision plan, which the town adopted in September, includes an expanded waterfront area off Cheers Street, new streets, a riverwalk and a mix of commercial and residential development.

Cheers Street would be the major access to the river where new residential and commercial growth would begin. The street would be widened, creating a bridge between Main Street and the river, where there would be a public gathering place.

The plan also recommends riverfront development including a hotel, mixed-use development such as live-work spaces and residential development such as mid-priced, urban-style housing for the middle- and working-class population and some higher-end townhouses with courtyards.

The N.C. General Assembly established the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program in 1981 by amending the Coastal Area Management Act to provide matching grants to local governments for oceanfront beach access areas.

More than 280 access sites have been constructed since then.

As coastal populations have increased, traditional accessways have been developed for private use, according to DCM Web sites, leading to demand for more public access sites.

“While most of the early projects were located along the oceanfront, more and more are now designed to improve access to estuarine shorelines, coastal rivers and urban waterfronts,” the Web site states.

Last year, the town of Ocean Isle Beach received $278,891 from the grant program for the Shallotte Boulevard Recreation area, while the city of Southport received $400,000 for the Fort Johnston Waterfront Boardwalk.