Nature trail closed

The Emerald Isle Woods nature trail on Coast Guard Road remains closed Tuesday after Hurricane Florence passed over Bogue Banks in mid-September. (Dylan Ray photo)

EMERALD ISLE — Town officials have awarded contracts to repair a fire station and to clean out downed trees that have prohibited the full reopening of Emerald Isle Woods and McLean-Spell Park in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

Interim Town Manager Randy Martin said Friday that the contract for repairs at Fire Station No. 2 went to the low bidder, Pinetops Builders of Newport, for a total cost of $14,485.

That, he said, was in line with the town’s expectations, and he’s pleased. Work should begin soon, Mr. Martin noted, and he expects it will be finished in a couple of months, if not sooner.

The town advertised for contractors to repair the roof, including replacing shingles, the ridge cap and vent, replacing siding, replacing two rear exterior doors and replacing the insulation ceiling in the apparatus bay.

Inside the building, an upstairs interior door needs to replaced, the downstairs rear wall needs to be repaired or replaced, carpet adjacent to the upstairs rear door needs to be replaced with tile and the rest of the upstairs carpet must be replaced.

The town sought separate bids to repaint all other interior walls and replace the deck on the back of the building. All of that is included in the awarded contract, according to Mr. Martin.

As for the parks – Emerald Isle Woods off Coast Guard Road and McLean-Spell Park behind the old town hall/community center on the north side of Highway 58 – the low and accepted bid for tree removal went to Russell Enterprises of Smithfield.

The cost, which is somewhat dependent upon on the number of trees to be removed, is not to exceed $20,000 for McLean-Spell Park and not to exceed $30,000 for the larger Emerald Isle Woods Park, Mr. Martin said. He said he hopes both final prices are lower than that, however.

In both cases, he said, the projected costs are somewhat lower than expected.

“We feel like we did very well with this,” the interim manager said. “We think we got good bids from responsible contractors and picked the best one.”

The goal, Mr. Martin said, is to have both parks safe and open in time for the beginning of tourist season this spring. That’s about 60 to 90 days out.

The 41-acre Emerald Isle Woods is used by the town as a stormwater runoff management area, but also is home to many popular nature and hiking trails and passive recreation opportunities. It’s closed to the public right now.

The town estimates there are about 300 trees damaged, either uprooted or leaning, many with dangerously hanging limbs.

Many of them are mature hardwoods and are very large, so they’ll have to be cut and removed from the trails.

McLean-Spell Park is somewhat smaller at about 30 acres, but town officials have estimated there are about 70 problematic trees.

The heavily wooded park, which includes about a mile of trail, has been open to the public for some time, but visitors have been advised to be cautious.

Other significant repair projects are still in the works. For example, there is the repair/replacement of the roof of the police station/town board meeting room building on the north side of Highway 58.

The town is expecting reimbursement checks from the

Federal Emergency Management Agency to eventually pay most, if not all, of the repairs costs. But Emerald Isle, Mr. Martin said, has sufficient money in reserve to get work done.

In addition, Mr. Martin noted on the town’s webpage that, “…the town is pursuing plans to address necessary improvements as a high priority.

“In the affected area of the Eastern Emerald Isle Beach Nourishment Project, which begins at the Indian Beach town limits and will end in the vicinity of the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, repairs to significantly damaged beach access points will obviously be challenged until the beach sand replenishment activities have been essentially completed.

“However, I am committed to ensuring that the Town takes necessary interim steps to ensure adequate and safe access is maintained throughout the project duration at all public beach accesses within the project area,” he continued.

“As for access improvements outside the upcoming beach project area, the Town is developing an action plan and will be pursuing restoration of all public access facilities with the goal continuing to be completion of most if not all necessary improvements prior to the tourist season.

“At this time, the only possible exceptions may be major damaged dock accesses on the sound side that will require prior FEMA authorization and reimbursement approval due to the scale and scope of these site specific projects,” he concluded.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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