EMERALD ISLE — Emerald Ise commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to spend up to $10,000 to determine whether it is feasible to relocate the channel that leads to and from the boating access facility on Bogue Sound east of town hall.
The unanimous vote came during the commission’s monthly meeting held virtually on GoToWebinar and in town hall and followed public comments from residents who want the channel moved farther offshore because boat wakes are causing erosion of their waterfront properties, among other problems.
Town manager Matt Zapp said any project that could result from the study might cost as much as $1.5 million, with two-thirds of that perhaps available from the state from the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund.
Those who spoke Tuesday said a project is sorely needed.
“Boat wakes are destroying the marsh grass,” Lee Harris of Sound Drive said.
Joy Brownlow, also of Sound Drive, said in addition to causing erosion, the wakes from speeding boats hurt seafood production because the grass serves as habitat for juveniles of many marine species.
“We need the support of the town,” she said.
Other speakers said boats fly through the channel, endangering those in the water, and a “no wake zone” wouldn’t do much good because those zones are rarely enforced.
Commissioner Jim Normile, who is also chairperson of the Carteret County Beach Commission, which oversees waterway navigation projects, suggested the town employ Moffitt & Nichol, the county’s beach and navigation channel engineering firm, to conduct a feasibility study.
“We don’t know if it can be done,” he said.
Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Floyd Messer agreed.
“I agree with spending the money so we’ll know if we can do something,” he said.
Mayor Eddie Barber called it “an excellent idea,” as did Commissioner Mark Taylor, who made the motion to approve the expenditure of up to $10,000.
The launch facility is at 6800 Highway 58 near mile marker 18. It includes four ramps, parking for 112 vehicle/trailer combinations and a separate parking lot with 18 single vehicle spaces. It’s managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and open every hour of the year. There is no cost to use the launch.
The Wildlife Resources Commission paid for the construction of the access area, which opened in 2011, through funding from motorboat registration receipts and sport fish restoration funds. Emerald Isle purchased the land for $4.25 million, using mostly grant money from the state and county.
It’s the largest such facility on the North Carolina coast, according to Mr. Zapp.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.