CAPE CARTERET — Although voters Nov. 3 narrowly defeated a referendum that would have allowed the town to sell bonds to finance completion of the Cape Carteret Trail, officials are making headway in obtaining money for the project.
The board of commissioners, during its meeting Monday, voted 5-0 to adopt a 2020-21 budget amendment to reflect $44,015 in private donations recently received for the trail, a planned pedestrian and cycling path, to be more than 3 miles long, along Highway 24, Highway 58 and Taylor Notion Road.
During the meeting Monday night, Town Manager Zach Steffey said the money “from several charitable contributions” would be “set aside for future construction expenses.” Specifically, he said $32,600 was set aside for engineering – developing a plan for a future new section – and $11,426 for construction. The money went into the “CC Trail” section of the capital projects ordinance.
Deanna McElmon, owner and operator of The Gym on Taylor Notion Road and a big supporter of the trail and the referendum, said $5,452.16 of the recent donations came from the Trot the Trail event her business put on this Thanksgiving. The money comes from entrance fees from runners.
When the referendum failed by a 756-712 margin, in part because a tax increase would have been needed to pay off the bonds, Ms. McElmon said she knew fundraising efforts like hers weren’t going to be enough to fund completion of the multi-use path. Still, she vowed to continue putting on the popular Thanksgiving morning event. This year, it drew 191 participants despite rain.
Town Commissioner Steve Martin, a longtime trail backer, said in November that he plans to ask staff and commissioners to take a new tack on trail financing. He wants officials to talk to the town’s state delegation – Sen. Norman Sanderson and Rep. Pat McElraft, both Republicans – and to the area’s U.S. Congressman, Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., to help find grant funds or other sources to pay for the trail.
The town originally estimated the trail would cost close to $1 million, and officials said they would pay for construction with grants and donations. As justification for the bond referendum, officials said those revenue sources had 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, Carteret County and the town have provided $125,000 each in tax money for the construction.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.