In a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, the Swansboro Tourism Development Authority approved spending up to $30,000 on improvements to the Swansboro Visitor Center.
Despite the fact that the four members participating – Scott Chadwick, Sherrie Hancock, Randy Swanson and Linda Thornley – roundly supported the project, it generated a lot of discussion during the meeting, which took place remotely under the Zoom platform.
Since the Swansboro Area Chamber of Commerce vacated the Visitor Center at the corner of Water and Church streets, town officials have taken over the operation. And, with the encouragement of downtown merchants, have looked for ways to broaden the building’s appeal.
The center is the boyhood home of Tucker R. Littleton, a noted Swansboro historian and award-winning writer who died in 1983. It was moved from its original location just up Water Street.
The center is also just a block away from the Church Street Dock, a town facility on the White Oak River and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, available for transient boaters to overnight.
With that in mind, perhaps, the plans to improve the visitor center include improving the restroom facilities and adding showers.
The TDA was presented a couple of different plans for that project on Jan. 21.
“I like what we’re looking at,” Chadwick said. But, he added, the improvements need to go farther. He cited the findings of a study conducted by East Carolina University that indicate ways to make the Church Street Dock more appealing to boaters.
According to the ECU study, Chadwick said, “They are not looking for grocery stores, but they are looking for showers and a washer and dryer.” So, he added, it would be wise to include a coin-operated washer and dryer in the center. TDA members indicated supported for the idea.
Chadwick’s other suggestion, also supported by the TDA, was ensuring that the funds gathered for the project not only be in an amount sufficient to cover all the improvements needed, but also shared by the appropriate agencies.
With that in mind, Chadwick suggested the full plans be submitted to the board of commissioners for approval so that costs could be nailed down, before the TDA acts.
“We are all, to some degree, in agreement that we want to assist,” Thornley said. But she said she wants information on not only the plans but also other funding sources. Specifically, she wants to make sure the Onslow County TDA helps share in the cost.
Chadwick said that is why it is important for the town commissioners to approve the full plans. “If we had a concrete plan then we could apply to the county too.”
“That is certainly what we can do,” Chris Seaberg, town manager, said of getting the commissioners’ approval on the plans. It could likely be handled at the Feb. 9 regular meeting. “I think conceptually the board is very supportive of what we discussed.”
Perhaps referring to the transient boater season quickly approaching, Swanson said action is needed.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. And, he added, he wants town commissioners to know the TDA is supportive.
A motion to approve up to $30,000 in TDA funding for the project, once there is an approved plan from the board of commissioners, was approved by a 4-0 vote.
Email Jimmy Williams at email@example.com.