The blue outline on this map marks the bulk of the property county officials and the N.C. Coastal Federation purchased for environmental conservation, as well as a new headquarters for the federation an a new public boating access for the county. (Mike Shutak photo)

OCEAN — The property has been acquired, but it will be several years before the N.C. Coastal Federation is ready to cut the ribbon on its new headquarters.

The NCCF recently announced it and Carteret County officials purchased 76.25 acres in the Ocean community between Morada Bay Subdivision and Red Barn Road. A 10-acre section of the land will be used for a new NCCF Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration, which will act as the headquarters and central district office for the federation.

However, NCCF Development Director Sarah King said Tuesday in an interview with the News-Times that the federation is still working on the conceptual plans for its proposed center, and it will likely be three to four years before the center is built.

“The plans are preliminary,” Ms. King said. “Our intent is to include as many conservation development practices as possible.”

Among the practices federation staff is considering for the design are using recycled building materials, installing rain gardens, using pervious pavement and including energy conservation features to the building.

The federation said in its official announcement it intends to use the center to “showcase low impact development techniques…as well as habitat restoration approaches.”

Ms. King said the lot has some shoreline erosion, “which is why (installing) a living shoreline is a priority.”

“There are some areas which were farmed and have since grown over,” Ms. King said. “We’ll possibly look at planting native species (in these areas).”

According to Ms. King, the county owns the bulk of the property, and county officials intend to partner with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to build a public boating access on the property.

County Assistant Manager Eugene Foxworth said county officials began looking for property for a boating access at the western end of the county two years ago.

“With the limited access on that end of the county, we continued to see and hear from citizens about a need for this type of facility,” Mr. Foxworth said. “The county commissioners spearheaded the initiative and brought the coastal federation on as a partner.”

Mr. Foxworth said County Commissioner Robin Comer has lead the effort to build a new boating access. As of Tuesday, county officials are working with WRC officials to raise funds to build the access.

“While we know this access will have approximately 180 parking spaces for trucks and trailers, we haven’t completed the finite details of design,” Mr. Foxworth said. “NCWRC has made an aggressive effort to incorporate LID (low impact development) features into many of the newer and renovated facilities they design.”

Ms. King said there have been “some conversations” between the federation and the county officials about adding walking trails on the county’s section of the property. Mr. Foxworth confirmed this, saying they plan to “offer other passive recreation opportunities on this tract.”

“The first of those is a system of trails that we’re working with the Coastal Federation with on design and construction,” he said. “Preliminarily, we plan for the trails to wind from the central portion of the property towards the north, adjacent to the upland wetland ecosystems.”

Mr. Foxowrth said the federation is seeking funding for these trails.

“The acquisition of this tract truly presents a wonderful opportunity for recreation in Carteret County,” he said.

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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