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 jimmy@tidelandnews.com.

(12) comments

David Collins

So basically they want to turn the failed visitors center into a locker room . 24/7 access ? What could possibly go wrong with that idea .

Motor yachts have their own facilities , sail boats not so much . Sail boaters , while not the cheapest of Mariners , they fall in right behind kayakers , are not known for choosing to pay for much . Rumor has it that marina owners have been known to lock up the toilet paper and accessible lightbulbs when one pulls in for the night . As a money maker or even breaking even the docks are pretty much white elephants , so why would you want to add to it ? Why not sell the old visitors center property and put the cash into a , heck I don’t know , perhaps another parking lot . Yeah , another parking lot . That you can do , eventually .

noitall

As a USCG licensed Captain. The docks are located in strong tidal currents and really hard for larger boats to handle without shore side help. No ice, fuel, or showers. North bound boats will head for Beaufort. Southbound to Wilmington. and Carolina Beach mooring field. If you can't lease the docks, remove them

Speakeasy

Thank you town of Swansboro for wanting to upgrade this facility, pull in more boaters and help provide more commerce for the downtown merchants.

noitall

Why not a mooring field for over-nighters as originally planned. Worked fine in Carolina Beach. Check it out.

noitall

The Visitor's Center was a response to the public and merchant outcry for restrooms. Did not make sense then, and even less now. Do nothing is a good option.

David Collins

You are correct noitall . These docks are “ docks of last resort “ and usually full of day trippers that do not pay . Only benefits a couple of restaurants because , well , there are only a couple left and that is off and on .

That whole dock project was ill conceived and they were warned well in advance . But , in true BORO fashion , never to shy away from a quixotic venture , they had it built anyway . The dock master fiasco immediacy followed and the rest is history . Atta way to go guys . On the sunny side , TD Eure did a great job .

Leah

Such a shame to hear negative comments when we are located in a prime transient location for boaters! Having lived by the Icw in several NC coastal towns as well as boating it, Swansboro has lacked in offering this service. I applaud the effort and monies put into it! The way it is managed has a great deal to do with the success. Thank you Swansboro for being proactive in making our friendly city by the sea even more friendly! Not to mention shopping, dining and exploring downtown and needing a rest area.

noitall

There was private ownership involved , Hal Silvers to be exact. You can buy his share and enjoy the thrill of going down with the ship. I could take a few of those floating docks for the right price.

David Collins

Ah yes , the much heralded public/private partnership farce . No conflict of interest there , not a smidgen . Not going any further out of fear of the delete button . Lot of that going on these days .

Shore Service

"Dock master fiasco"???????

To what do you refer Mr. Collins

David Collins

To be sure , time and administrations have come and gone , but how soon we forget .

During the construction phase the realization that some type of management was needed blinked on like a light bulb . Transients desire amenities , potable water , waste pump outs , toilet facilities and so forth . Plus , help while docking and departing and the collecting of dockage fees . Apparently the call went out and was answered . I thought it was as close to the ideal choice around but then personalities clashed and politics entered the mix . Things get fuzzy but the end result was nothing but the signs you see posted on the dock encouraging the honor system . As far as any revenues collected go , pretty much crickets on a still dark night .

Even though the docks were quite well built , they will need care and maintenance along with eventual replacement . That is a given . Doubt that the revenues that were forecasted to pour in have amounted to much but then what does here in the BORO .

Sad , so much potential , so much poor execution . Guess it really doesn’t matter . Change will come sooner or later , perhaps with the next storm . A new broom sweeps clean , as they say .

noitall

Loser - for example there is a significant on-going monthly charge for each electric ,meter installed. Does Mr Silvers share any loss and profit? profit is doubtful. Swansboro has a knack for creative accounting otherwise this dock would have never been built

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