Officials open new waterfront neighborhood park, separate launch site in Cape Carteret

Cape Carteret Public Works Department director Ryan Hutchinson cuts the ribbon to officially open Old Ferry Park Tuesday as, from left, Mayor Will Baker, Commissioner Mike King, Commissioner Jeff Waters, town manager Zach Steffey and public works department technician Adam Littleton watch. (Brad Rich photo)

CAPE CARTERET — Town commissioners and staff, joined by a handful of residents, officially opened Cape Carteret’s newest neighborhood water access, Old Ferry Park, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.

The park, at the end of Lejeune Road on Bogue Sound and a canal, is also a part of the town’s history, as the site it occupies was the landing for the old ferry used to transport people from western Carteret County’s mainland to Emerald Isle and back before the B. Cameron Langston Bridge opened in 1971.

One person on hand for the event was Paxon Holz, whose father, W.B. McLean, loaned the N.C. Department of Transportation the land for the ferry landing during that time. She remembers it well and appreciates the town preserving some of her family’s history.

“I used to walk onto the ferry a lot because I kept a car on both sides,” she said. “The building (on the park land) was free restrooms and the pump house, because of course we didn’t have water there then.”

Ms. Holz said she thinks the town did a great job constructing the park. Cape Carteret bought the 15,000-square-foot strip this spring for $100,000 and since then has added a white, vinyl fence – built by the public works department – installed a new bulkhead along the canal frontage and furbished three picnic tables, a grill and two wood swings facing Bogue Sound.

“We might have to put a time limit on the swings,” town manager Zach Steffey quipped before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Sarah Wax, a resident of the Star Hill neighborhood and a town commission candidate this November, was there with her daughter, Summer, and complimented the town for preserving and important part of its history.

Mayor Will Baker praised the public works staff, led by director Ryan Hutchinson, for its work and Mr. Steffey for putting the project together. About all that’s left to do is put down sod in the swing area.

“They did a fantastic job,” the mayor said before the ceremony. “This is one more opportunity for citizens of Cape Carteret to get out and enjoy the waterfront, bring the kids and enjoy this beautiful view.”

It’s intended primarily as a neighborhood park, but anyone can use it.

Mike King, a town commissioner who pushed hard for the purchase of the land, wanted the town to purchase a larger chunk of property at the site for $300,000, but lost that vote. He’s still very happy with the end result.

“I saw the potential in it,” he said. “It was worth the money.”

Mr. King, who is not running for reelection after serving the town in a number of roles – planning board, commissioner and part-time code enforcement officer – said he has tried to improve access to the water for residents and visitors.

“I grew up in a town with a lot of water access … and when I moved here a long time ago, there really wasn’t any,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. We have lots of waterfront parks now, and the town did a great job with this one.”

Mr. Hutchinson cut the ribbon to officials open the space.

“Let’s get this done and get this bad boy open for people to enjoy,” the mayor said as Mr. Hutchinson snipped the red ribbon tied between two swings.

Later Tuesday, the town officially opened a kayak, canoe and paddleboard launch site in Pettiford Creek, off Highway 58, with a similar ceremony. The facility, at 920 Highway 58 North includes a 20-space gravel parking lot and a concrete sidewalk to the launches.

The town purchased that land, about 1.5 acres, from a homeowner in May 2019 for $124,000, utilizing a state grant paired with town money. The town also obtained a grant to construct the launch facility. Mr. Steffey shepherded both grants through the state approval process.

 

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

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