EMERALD ISLE — Town commissioners, in a special session after their Dec. 8 meeting, set a number of goals for 2021, including changes in the beach access parking plan.
The goals were set during what Emerald Isle Town Manager Matt Zapp called a “progressive goals roadmap” meeting, which he also conducted last December during his first year with the town.
Before the session, Mr. Zapp told the News-Times the annual session is a chance for the board and staff to look back at things accomplished during the year and to “prioritize some objectives” that can be accomplished in the coming year. For example, in the December 2019 session, the board decided it wanted to improve ocean and beach safety in the wake of four drownings that summer. The goal included designating a person to oversee the program, increase the number and visibility of ocean condition flags on the strand and hire more lifeguards to start work earlier in the spring and work later into fall. All of those goals were accomplished.
The Dec. 8 meeting was conducted via GoToWebinar.
One goal for 2021 is to release a request for tech-based solutions to manage parking spaces in the town’s beach accesses, which are run by the parks and recreation department, headed by Alesia Sanderson. Once the requests for proposals come in, Ms. Sanderson is to submit them so commissioners can pick one to implement at the eastern and western ocean regional access lots for spring.
Currently, the fee is $10 per vehicle per day, and it’s charged Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus holidays, from mid-April through mid-September.
The goal listed from the Dec. 8 meeting states that commissioners support moving to charge the fees seven days a week, and staff recommends moving the start of paid parking from mid-April to mid-March.
The parking fees pay for maintenance of the access facilities and salaries for lifeguards.
Another goal listed is a change in the time period in which driving on the beach is allowed. Generally, it’s been allowed, with a town permit affixed to the vehicle, between September 15 and April 30, with the exception of the 10-day period from the Friday prior to Easter and the Sunday seven days after Easter.
The 2021 goal states that “A majority of the (commissioners) supports a change in the time period from Oct. 1 through March 15.” Commissioners are expected to discuss the change in January or February.
Another goal is to reduce the amount of contractor-generated debris collected and hauled away from roadsides by the public works department in its yard waste collection program.
Emerald Isle has two collection trucks, intended to pick up yard waste put curbside by residents. Prior to August 2013, residents had to call the town to get yard waste picked up. Since then, public works has been making continuous passes through all streets in the town with a goal of picking everything up within one week. However, demand has grown tremendously in recent years, and the idea of reducing contractor-generated waste is intended to help eliminate the need to purchase a third truck.
As listed in the results of the Dec. 8 goals meeting, the town could “continue to allow yard maintenance contractors to place small piles at the roadside for residential collections.”
Public Works Director Artie Dunn, Planning Director Josh Edmundson and Mr. Zapp are to work on a rewrite of the yard debris ordinance, with the goal of having it ready for consideration by commissioners within the first three months of 2021.
Yet another goal is to work with the state Department of Transportation to illuminate 10 additional trees near the gateway to town, just east of the high-rise bridge on Highway 58.
Mr. Zapp said the board is still working on other goals for the year, most of which he said should be “ironed out” in January.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.