CAPE CARTERET — The town of Cape Carteret will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Tuesday to celebrate the official opening of the long-awaited new kayak, canoe and paddleboard launch facility off Highway 58.
Workers were busy Friday sprucing up the entrance, making sure everything would look nice for the opening.
Town manager Zach Steffey said the facility, at 920 Highway 58 North, also includes a 20-space gravel parking lot and a concrete sidewalk to the launches. In addition, there’s a new right-turn lane into the park – Pettiford Creek Launch Site – for safety reasons. The wooded site is just past the highway’s dangerous intersection with Taylor Notion Road, and that’s why the N.C. Department of Transportation agreed to install the short turn lane. In addition, for safety reasons, visitors must exit the facility by turning right onto Highway 58.
Town Commissioner Steve Martin, among the biggest advocates for the facility for several years, said Thursday he’s pleased to see it completed and ready to open.
“It’s been a long process, longer than I thought it would be, but we’ve finally reached the end, and I’m very happy about that,” he said.
The town purchased the land, about 1.5 acres, from a homeowner in May 2019 for $124,000 using a $105,000 grant from the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, plus $18,100 in town money.
Cape Carteret also obtained an $83,000 DCM launch grant for construction of the facility, and the town provided a $22,000 match for that effort. Mr. Steffey shepherded both grants through the state approval process.
The contract to build the right-turn lane into the picturesque park from Highway 58 and to construct the parking lot, went to Able Paving of Jacksonville for $45,000.
Commissioners went back and forth on whether to accept the grants, provide the matches and buy the property, in part because it was during a very tight budget period in the wake of Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
Mr. Martin said it all worked out well and he looks forward to seeing the parking lot full of kayakers and other paddlers. He added it’s a great time for the facility to open.
“I’ve been out there on those waters, and fall is a beautiful time to be out there,” he said. “It’s a beautiful area in the Croatan (National Forest).”
The creek connects to the White Oak River, and paddlers can get one of the prettiest trips in the region in a secluded, little-traveled area teeming with wildlife. A sign near the entrance warns visitors not to feed or disturb the alligators and prohibits swimming.
Mr. Martin has said he envisions the facility, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, being popular throughout the region, perhaps drawing a business or two to serve the paddlers.
The facility will be open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.