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SUNSET BEACH—With a Jan. 31 deadline looming for PARTF grant submission, a majority of town council has approved documentation for proposed master park plans.
Prior to the vote at council’s Jan. 7 meeting, which town councilwoman Carol Scott said she could not approve, residents expressed concerns about park details.
North Shore Drive resident Nina Marable said the proposal offered by Withers & Ravenel, the Cary-based engineering and landscape architecture firm hired to design the park, has “many questionable sections.”
She went on to cite certain details as “missing, irrelevant, wrong word choice, typographical errors, troubling and disingenuous.”
“I feel obligated to keep pointing out problems with the park plan and this proposal,” Marable said.
Specifically, she cited proposed 8-foot-wide walking trails.
“The citizens did not say they wanted 8-foot trails, and not concrete brown or otherwise,” she said.
Bay Street resident Kathryn Hovermale said the park proposal “lacks in a lot of areas. I’m hoping the proposal is not accepted and the grant will not be granted so you don’t spend that much money on the park.”
Hovermale said she’s concerned council will proceed with spending money anyway.
“Take money for 8-foot-wide concrete walking trails and put that money uptown,” she suggested.
Noelle Kehrberg of North Shore Drive cited $266,947 allocated for paving.
“Three questions,” she said. “Why is on-site parking so important to town council when it’s not part of any community survey questions or discussion. Two, why does a passive park require over a quarter-million dollars of paving? Three, are you legally obligated to provide parking for other town businesses?”
Sunset Beach Mayor Richard Cerrato said estimated costs had gone up another $12,000—to $838,000.
Town administrator Gary Parker said that includes $134,000 in contingency that may or may not be spent.
“Council felt it was a good idea to be sensitive to the environment [with] previous pavers,” he said.
Greg Lambert, landscape architect for Withers & Ravenel, said he admired and appreciated community’s involvement.
“The master plan is merely a tool that is for general design layout and cost consideration,” he said.
He said decisions on materials have not yet been determined.
“There are still opportunities for input on that,” he said.
Lambert said it’s also not true concrete sidewalks are planned for the park.
“The survey response clearly showed the need for environmentally sensitive materials,” he said—pervious materials that are significantly more expensive whether they are colored or not.
As for the 8-foot width of the proposed walkways, Lambert said new ADA requirements are a minimal 6 feet to allow two wheelchairs to pass side-by-side.
“Most greenway trails are 10 feet,” he said. “This site does not warrant that.”
Lambert said town staff would have an opportunity to review details before Thursday’s grant deadline.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email email@example.com.