CAPE CARTERET — A $1.2 million bond referendum to fund construction of the remainder of the partly-completed Cape Carteret Trail was defeated Tuesday by a 756 to 712 margin.
Town voters faced with a property tax increase to pay off the bonds if the referendum passed and the officials moved forward with the borrowing.
Deanna McElmon, owner of The Gym on Taylor Notion Road, site of an already completed portion of the trail, said “It was disappointing to hear the referendum did not pass.
“It’s virtually impossible to raise that type of of money through fundraisers. This was a missed opportunity to gains something great for the community,” she continued.
Former town commissioner Charlie Evans, who has supported the trail but opposed holding the referendum because he doesn’t want a tax increase, said he fears town leaders “will use the votes as an opportunity to abandon any support they may have had for the trail.”
Commissioner Mike King said regardless of the result, the people got their chance to weigh in on the financing and let the board of commissioners know how it should proceed.
“It should be in the hands of the people, not five commissioners,” he said, and the idea behind the referendum was “we’d do whatever they tell us.”
Although there did not appear to be any organized opposition to the bond referendum’s passage, it was a hot topic on social media, with potential voters split.
Proponents said it would be a safe place for runners, pedestrians and cyclists and would increase property values along the path. Opponents said it wouldn’t be safe for many to use, because they’d have to cross busy Highway 24 in some places to get to it.
The town originally estimated the roughly 3-mile trail would cost close to $1 million and said it would pay for construction with mostly grants and donations. As justification for the bond referendum, officials have said those revenue sources have dried up, leaving much of the trail – about 1.9 miles – unfinished.
The commission approved the project by a 5-0 vote in February 2015, with the goal of finishing by 2018. So far, the county and the town have provided $125,000 each in tax dollars for construction.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.