EMERALD ISLE — Town officials are working to coordinate the beginning of a major public-private redevelopment project off Islander Drive.
Town Manager Matt Zapp said Monday he’d hoped to get bids out for the town’s portion – chiefly roadwork and sidewalk construction – by Thursday, Jan. 10, but that now seems unlikely.
With the date likely pushed back at least a couple of weeks, things will be on a tight schedule.
“It’s very tight,” Mr. Zapp said. “We can’t have the roads (chiefly Islander Drive, which intersects Highway 58) all torn up” as tourism season kicks in.
The town’s annual St. Patrick’s Festival, which is Saturday, March 1, draws about 30,000 people, and the Emerald Isle Marathon, which is Saturday, March 28, is also a big event. Easter falls on Sunday, April 12.
Theoretically, Mr. Zapp said, some of the work could be done in April, but it’s not desirable, and there are moving parts.
First up, officials hope, is the burial of overhead utility lines, which should be more aesthetically pleasing and will provide a more reliable source of power during severe storms and hurricanes.
Mr. Zapp said he hopes it will be in January, but the work must be coordinated with roadwork. Also planned are sidewalk improvements.
The developer, A-Team Enterprises of Morehead City, is eager to get started, according to Mr. Zapp, after the project was delayed by Hurricane Florence last September. The multi-million-dollar multi-use project includes buildings that will house residences and businesses. Mr. Zapp said A-Team has already begun some site preparation work.
“Everyone is working as hard as possible to get started,” the manager said. “We all want to get going, but we need we coordinate everything.”
If necessary, he said, the town board of commissioners could hold a special meeting to give final approval to the public portion of the work, since the bids won’t be ready for approval until after the panel’s Thursday, Jan. 14 regular meeting.
The electrical work, already approved by the board, will cost in the neighborhood of $150,000, but A-Team will pay a third of the cost because a portion of the work will be on a 1.85-acre tract the company bought in April 2018 from the town.
Before the town bought the land, it had been the site of a go-cart track and a bumper boat facility, but both had been abandoned for some time.
The town initially planned to build a public-private event center on the property but backed off that idea in the face of opposition from residents.
The town’s current plans for the Islander Drive/Louise Avenue area include the addition of parking spaces, golf cart spaces, landscaping and decorative lighting. The idea is to continue, along with A-Team, to revitalize the area, which once was a town hub but has fallen into some disrepair in recent years.
Mr. Zapp has estimated roadway improvements along Islander Drive and Louise Avenue will cost $325,000, with the money to coming from accumulated Powell Bill funds.
There will also be improvements at the adjacent Western Ocean Regional Access at a cost of about $100,000, derived from a state redevelopment grant the town obtained. Golf cart spaces are expected to cost about $30,000.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.