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jasmine1

Carolina Beach Town Council held their regular monthly meeting last night. The evening kick-off with Councilman Barbee making a motion to table “Parking” that included a text amendment to address private parking lots and awarding a parking contract to Pivot Parking until the next workshop. This came as a surprise to those who attended previous meetings where the discussion of parking has been an urgency, Tim Murphy provided event updates that included this Saturdays Trash to Treasures Yard Sale at the Carolina Beach Lake, the Neon Bike Brigade on the 20th, Nollies Salsa Shred December 4th as well as Carolina Beach Parks and Rec Department’s events with Christmas by the Sea. Murphy also shared that Florida Man will wrap up filming in Carolina Beach at Town Hall December 1st.

Cape Fear Four LLC was back before council with yet request to conditional zoning change for the Proximity Project. During public comment Council heard the same concerns as in the previous meeting in the way of traffic, infrastructure, water supply and some asking council to table the project for the newly elected members. Representative with Cape Fear Four LLC assured the audience they have experts who are reviewing all of their concerns and they want to provide Carolina Beach with a viable development. After discussion the changes were voted in 4-1 with Councilman JoDan Garza the only, “nay.”

The next agenda item brought tree protection to the table. Council heard a proposal that requires one tree per 25 linear feet for proposed new construction or expansion. Mayor Pro Tem Healy made a motion to adopt the tree ordinance that was voted “for” unanimously.

Town Manager Bruce Oakley shared an unfortunate lake dredge update stating the lowest bid the received was a whopping $6.4 Million. The elevated cost was mostly due to having to carry spoils of the Island. Councilman Shuttleworth said after reviewing the bid that it was very complicated and that there was several line items that caused the bid to be so high and he encouraged staff to go back and review.

During the meeting, as a silent show of support Councilman Steve Shuttleworth placed a piece of paper with “Deb LeCompte” written on it in front of his desk placard. Council will discuss how to fill the vacant seat at the next meeting leaving some wondering how they will choose to fill it. In discussion with voters, most felt those who ran for council or even the next vote getter should be considered. Shortly after the election Councilman Barbee shared the following from his social media site, “I am getting a number of inquiries about how the new council will appoint someone to complete the last two years of my term. The process is very simple. Once the new council is sworn in on Dec 14, they will discuss. As your elected representatives they may use whatever process they desire to decide. It will take 3 of the 4 to agree on an appointee. There is no formal time limit, but it usually happens pretty quick. Let’s be patient. Two of the new council members have had less than 24 hours to digest their next steps.

Elections by their nature create divisions, bruised egos, and sometimes even some hurt feelings. If we are to achieve our goal of finding the best possible person, we need time for everyone to heal a bit and remember we are all on the same team.

I was asked if the candidates who came up short would be considered. I think they should be, along with other citizens who have served the town and have demonstrated knowledge and commitment. We need someone who complements the team.”

Thursday, 18 November 2021 01:27

Historical Building Set for Demolition

A demolition permit has been awarded for 123 Harper Avenue in Carolina Beach. The Historical building that had been recognized by the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society for its value to the community will soon be leveled. In an email sent to Mayor and Council from Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin shared, “The Century 21 building on the corner of Harper and LPB has applied for a demolition permit.  The current building has too many maintenance issues for the owners and they believe a new building with a better layout will serve them well.  They have a limited footprint so they don’t anticipate going up with any residential.  They do plan to build back another office building that incorporates additional retail/office space along LPB. 

There has been some concern in the community that we are losing a historic building.  This building does not have a historic designation, however the owners are aware of the concerns and they do want to go back with a building that preserves some of the historic features of the current structure.”

In the 1940’s the location served as the Carolina Beach Drug Store, which was the central focal point in the community for citizens as well as tourists, with a soda fountain and snack bar to accompany the pharmacy with a rooming house upstairs. In 1948 a ultra-modem bus terminal was added to the building and opened to the public for the first time Friday, July 30, 1948. 

The bus stopped there, you could pay your light bill, and even receive advice from the resident pharmacist.” “…The two-story stucco building, with a distinctive, castle like parapet around its roof, was much more than a drug store…for years it doubled as Carolina Beach’s bus station. During World War II, a bus stopped daily to ferry local workers to the shipyard in Wilmington…Besides soft drinks, the drug store boasted a “complete and modern restaurant” with seafood and other entrees according to a 1948 Star-News advertisement. Star News Article 2/24/04 

In the past decade the location has housed former Laney Real Estate and currently Century 21 Sweyer and Associates. Postcards, pictures and history courtesy of federal-point-history.org

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 19:33

2021 Island of Lights Events Announcement

After last Season’s shutdown, volunteers are exciting to bring back the Island of Lights event! This year there will not be an official “Lighting of the Lake” but the displays will be lit up and available for viewing nightly starting November’26th around Carolina Beach Lake!

The Island of Lights Christmas Parade will return Friday, December 3rd starting at 7:30pm the parade proceeds from Atlanta Avenue down Lake Park Boulevard to the Federal Point Plaza in Carolina Beach. Floats, bands and Santa Clause will be there to add to the festivities of the season and provide a night of entertainment for families. ​ To be a part of this exciting parade, you can register online at carolinabeach.org, you may also stop in the Carolina Beach Recreation Center for help registering. 

The Island of Lights Flotilla will return Saturday, December 4th starting at 6pm. Fishing boats and pleasure craft electrically decorated with thousands of lights present a spectacular display on the Intracoastal Waterway. They cruise form Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back. The boats compete for prizes and add to the wonderful holiday spirit. A panel of judges will be on hand to choose the winners. Bring the family and enjoy the evening at Carolina Beach.

The Island of Lights Tour of Homes has been canceled but the New Year’s Eve Celebration will be held in Kure Beach Friday December 31st. Starting at 9:00am all are welcomed to enjoy this free family-friendly event will feature a DJ and dancing with refreshments and party favors available for purchase all in Kure Beach’s beautiful Oceanfront Park!

Island of Lights is a non-profit organization that was created to promote tourism on Pleasure Island during the off-season.  For more than 25 years, they have made Pleasure Island one of the top spots to visit during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday and New Year’s Eve.  Throughout the year, IOL puts on many activities the whole family can enjoy. 

The Island of Lights is always looking for volunteers! Members can join various committees that work on each of the events. All events are a group effort and you can meet new people and have fun while supporting the organization. For more information you can call Francis Massey at (910) 458-5507 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

If you are elected on to council, what will be the first thing you do? 

The first thing that I will do is try to meet with each and every department head at town hall to understand their perspective on what is needed to be done and in what order.  I think the town manager and council need to be aligned as to priorities.  I would also ask for an evaluation of the town’s financial situation and what its true borrowing capacity is at this time and also ask for a review of all town owned properties to see if there are any assets to be monetized.

   Do you feel like Carolina Beach Town Staff is working effectively?  

I believe staff is working effectively but not staffed to work efficiently.  There is a difference between effective and efficient.  I would like staff to be more proactive instead of reactive.

 If not, what will you change? 

I would like to review the org structure with the town manager to see if there are gaps in competencies that need to be addressed and for ideas on how we can work smarter.  I know the efficiency study highlighted certain areas that needed to be addressed.  I also know that we need to start the process of looking for replacements as I believe some key individuals are probably nearing retirement.

 What specific skills do you bring to council should you be elected?  

I have had a successful and proven 30 year career in finance. I have an expansive background in investing and searching for the best sources of financing. My expertise is in strategic planning and forward thinking and bringing groups of people with diverse interests to a consensus for the best outcome for now and for the future.  We need to scrutinize every dime we spend in order to ensure we achieve these results. We need to make sure every tax dollar we receive from our residents is used for their best interests.  I have made a career of making and maintaining banking relationships, investor relationships, government relationships and I will do everything I can to do so for the town of Carolina Beach to ensure we tackle the critical issues as well as to maintain the small-town charm.  Additionally, I have served on the senior leadership teams of the companies for whom I have worked and feel that additional leadership capabilities will be needed to help make the difficult decisions that will need to be made.

I asked both Mayoral candidates this in a different form, what was your biggest disappointment made by standing council?  

I think the biggest disappointment is not taking more of a leadership role during the last 2 years.  This was a time that required more, not less, communication.   I know some council members made a very strong attempt at communications (for which I applaud them), but in general there was a lack leadership, communication, and accountability at council.  We can attribute some of that to Covid but I think good leaders find a way to adapt and be more flexible.  We all know what the needs of our town are. Council’s job is to prioritize those needs and I know how to budget, how to invest and how to borrow for those needs.  Our town’s top priorities are to ensure our infrastructure, storm and water sewage systems and flooding are taken care of. This is what our taxpayers pay for and they deserve nothing less.

Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing? 

How do you reassure them?   I have not generally heard such comments, but I think they can be attributed to the fact that there is so much growth and development going on in this town, that people feel that their quality of life is changing.  I think we need to reassure people that change does not have to equal a diminished quality of life.  We need to address the challenges that are in front of us with an open mind.  One thing I think we all can agree on is that we do NOT want to change the family friendly, close-knit community feeling that exists here but there is room for improvement that will be incremental to the vibe of the town.   

Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?  

My final word would be something like this.  I know I am not the best-known candidate that is running for council but, as I have said, this is not a popularity contest.  It is the responsibility of all voters, no matter in what election, to take the time to understand where the candidates are coming from and vote for who you think has the best skill set needed to help run this town.  A vote for a friend or neighbor that may or may not be the most qualified just cancels out a vote for someone who may be better qualified and, in an election where the margin of victory can be a handful of votes, every vote matters.  Council should be working for you, the residents and voters.  Please judge me on my abilities and my unique skill set that may be lacking on council currently.  As this town faces some very expensive infrastructure projects ahead, it would benefit the town to have someone with that finance background.

 

If you are elected on to council, what will be the first thing you do?

I will work with the new council to delegate responsibilities for individual council members. Our collective responsibility model is inefficient because we find ourselves working on the same things. Each council member should have specific areas of expertise and focus on them.

For instance, I would volunteer to oversee stormwater policy, environmental concerns and bike/pedestrian safety. That way, if a citizen has a concern with one of those issues, they’d know who to call. I would work with staff, develop in-depth knowledge of the subjects and communicate to the public. This would free the other council members to focus on their areas of expertise. Efficiency matters!

In the first winter of my term I would push for multiple safety improvements around town that would have an immediate effect. Reclaim the bike lanes on Lake Park Blvd, add a crosswalk at Spartanburg Ave, repaint pavement markings around the school and repair sidewalks in strategic spots, just to name a few.

 Do you feel like Carolina Beach Town Staff is working effectively? 

No.

If not, what will you change?

As I stated previously, Town Council should divide our workload. This will help staff work more efficiently, because it will eliminate distractions and overlapping requests.

Take stormwater for instance. When someone has a problem, they often contact the council member they know. Then the council member calls around, learns about the issue, meets with staff to find a resolution, etc… This is inefficient, distracting to staff and time consuming for Town Council.

A better system is for one council member to focus on stormwater. I would know the systems, know the staff, know the problems and know how to address them. Everyone would know where the buck stops and that’s always the best way to get results. If you want something done – make it someone’s job. It’s a more efficient system for Town Council and staff.

 What specific skills do you bring to council should you be elected?

I’m the only candidate with an engineering degree and stormwater management experience, so I’ll start there. I can provide technical assistance and oversight that is needed right now.

I’ve spent years organizing volunteer crews for environmental stewardship and community improvement projects. This is a great skill to have, because if our citizens help, then town staff can allocate their manpower and resources to other things. This makes for a more sustainable future.

I’m a great communicator. Town Council needs better communication with our citizens and I will provide that. I’ve been writing articles and newsletters for over 15 years. I will focus on my areas of expertise and regularly share information through multiple sources.

I asked both Mayoral candidates this in a different form, what was your biggest disappointment made by standing council?

That so little was done during the Covid shutdown. There was an opportunity to make improvements around town and very little happened.

Here’s an analogy. During the quarantine days, I wasn’t spending time going to lacrosse games, school functions, parties, etc… so I used the free time to make major improvements around my house.

Town staff should have done the same. Think of all the man hours that usually go to running events, emptying trash bins, hosting the parade… I could go on and on. We should have seen more visible improvements around town as a result. (Parks & Rec is exempt from this complaint. They remodeled the Rec Center nicely while it was closed.)

I am employed by New Hanover County. No one in my department missed a day of work during the quarantine. Meanwhile, I had a hard time getting phone calls returned from town hall. An opportunity was missed here.

Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing?  How do you reassure them?    

It’s never too late to focus on the qualities that make our town great. Even as Carolina Beach grows, we can hold on to what makes us special. We need to focus on the specific small town qualities that we hold dear.

Safe routes to school, walkability, shady trees, pleasant biking, convenient parking, affordability… these are all features of a great small town. Make these things a priority and we’ll maintain our quality of life.

Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?  

All of the candidates basically agree on the issues, so you have to look for who will actually be able to generate progress. Experience, expertise and knowledge of local government matter.

Ask the candidates what they’re passionate about. What legacy do you want to leave? Which one or two issues will you work feverishly toward accomplishing? Outside of your basic Town Council duties, what will you do to make your dreams come true? The answer should be clear and specific

I know how to answer those questions… I want to see Carolina Beach become a bike and pedestrian paradise. A town where you feel good about sending your kids or grandkids outside to play. That’s what will motivate me every day.

If you are elected on to council, what will be the first thing you do?

Communicate, Town Staff is asking each standing committee to produce a mission statement and a set of goals. How can this be possible when committees are in place to support the mission of Council, but Council itself does not have a mission statement and a clear set of goals. Therefore, each new Council should develop a mission statement complete with goals to better align their priorities with Staff and committees. This statement should be published and communicated to the public on the Town’s website and kept up to date on a monthly basis complete with a joint statement from all council members.

 

We must reconnect our public service institutions. Many people have taken this for granted over the years, but my connection to youth sports, CB Elementary and families with young children have given me the perspective to observe a shift in the Town’s priorities away from the school. The school and Town have had no relationship at the executive leadership level since at least before Hurricane Florence. The Town Manager and Police Chief should be on a first name basis with the Principal. They need to physically go to the school, get a tour, ask what they can do to support the school, students & teachers and then make it happen. Education programming through the Town should be a normal part of the relationship between the two. For instance, ongoing bike safety programs for kids and parents would be beneficial with the increased vehicle traffic in Carolina Beach. There are 415 kids at CBES. The school is an important part of our community.

Residents deserve an update on the status of infrastructure projects. Common challenges everyone in Carolina Beach is facing include the need for the Town to complete planned infrastructure projects, like water, sewer, storm water, Lake dredging, Marina bulkheads and roads. I would begin to tackle these challenges by communicating to the public where we stand with each project, so we can reset expectations for residents, businesses and all other stakeholders. It’s the Town’s responsibility to communicate with residents and visitors, telling them what is going on with our projects and to keep the project locations looking maintained, even when under construction. The info on the Town website is outdated.

Do you feel like Carolina Beach Town Staff is working effectively? 

 I do not. Not to take anything away from some of the hard-working members of Staff, but if citizens don’t feel like Council has clear objectives, then how can Staff be effective? I believe the majority of Staff are doing what they can provided the lack of guidance that is necessary to complete a clear mission. I believe department heads oversee their domain with minimal input from Council except for when problems surface. It should be clear to Town Staff what our priorities are at any given time. Let’s get proactive with our management style as opposed to reactive.

If not, what will you change?

I will encourage Council to implement the above mentioned, mission statement and goals, making stronger lines of communication and oversight.

I look back to Hurricane Florence as a recent marker for the direction we ended up taking as a town. Like Hurricane Hazel in 1954 taught us the importance of needing sand dunes to protect buildings and infrastructure from storms, Hurricane Florence in 2018 taught us that we need to be better prepared for storm events that bring heavy rain. Even the simple heavy rain events we’ve experienced these past two months have revealed deficiencies in our stormwater system. Unfortunately, we didn’t adapt in 2020 and allowed COVID to prevent us from properly maintaining the stormwater system throughout Carolina Beach. That includes no dredge improvements made to the Lake. Private businesses and charitable organizations adapted to keep life going throughout 2020. As a Town, even with countywide restrictions in place, we must be more creative when it comes to servicing something that is one of the most crucial parts of our infrastructure system. That residents were unaware of the lack of maintenance being performed was a lack of communication.

Regarding the “sunny day” flooding that occurs on Canal Drive, I believe we can do much more. For some reason, the Canal Drive Flood committee was disbanded after finding only a partial solution to tidal flooding. Bring it back as an ad hoc committee, including former members as well as opening it up to new people with fresh ideas. We have citizens living with road conditions along Canal Drive that are poor at best. These wonderful citizens are willing to help by communicating the various types of flooding they are witnessing in real time, as well as possible solutions. Troubleshooting efforts should be taken seriously and not written off simply because the road is in a low-lying area. Staff needs to reach out to other coastal communities with similar issues, the State and any organization that could provide information and assistance towards mitigating the problem. Just like with the Lake dredge project, we need an all hands-on deck approach with the willingness to look outside Town Hall at times to help solve the problems. 

The Parks & Rec Department needs to do better with their vision and goals for kids and families living in Carolina Beach. There is no “active” vision for youth and teens. The Town has a role to play by getting behind and bringing together leaders from youth focused organizations around town to help create a more supportive environment for each, as well as to identify common challenges or best practices. Because we don’t currently have that, we have already lost a decade of opportunities. As a volunteer, I have worked to keep kids and families here in Carolina Beach by giving them a viable and affordable youth sports experience close to home, something that makes our community bond stronger. We need more of that for boys and girls. The next Council can list this as a goal. If we make it a priority, the Town can offer more youth sports and activities through a willing volunteer network without hiring an additional employee. This is all part of continuing to offer the amenities and activities that lure families to Carolina Beach while retaining the families already here. Instead of sending parents and kids off the island to spend registration fee money outside of Town, we could put that money to work by organizing and offering additional recreational programs, like flag football, outdoor basketball, and other fun outdoor activities, while simultaneously creating revenue to put back into facilities. The Department says we’re not set up to organize more youth sports in CB… That mindset needs to change. It is important for town leadership to promote the organization of more recreational youth sports programs for Carolina Beach kids. No one has spent more time at Mike Chappell Park over the last several years than I have. A lot of people think I work for the Town, but I don’t. It’s awesome to see youth sports and activities bringing kids and adults together from throughout our community, but if taken for granted, some of them could disappear overnight.

What specific skills do you bring to council should you be elected?

I see the town through a resident’s eyes. I graduated from UNCW in 1997 with a communication degree. Since 1993 I have lived in Wilmington, downtown Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach before moving to CB in 2005. I have seen the growth and changes in the Cape Fear region. After college, I worked in laboratory equipment sales where I traveled to more than 30 states, Canada and Europe calling on some of the world’s largest healthcare, personal care and pharmaceutical research companies from 1998 – 2004. I worked for Honeywell, one of the world’s largest companies, implementing residential energy efficiency programs for Duke Energy and Dominion Virginia Power where I worked with and trained a network of hundreds of small business contractors. I have had a real estate license for 17 years, something important when understanding property rights and the challenges we are facing with growth and development.

After traveling for work I wanted to be home with my kids. I am a full-time volunteer in CB. For years, I have been immersed in youth sports on the island. I am a Community Leader through youth baseball. I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work. You can find me with my straw hat on taking care of the ball fields at Mike Chappell Park. I do that because I want kids and families to be proud of the park. I collaborate with leagues and organizations outside the community that we can mutually benefit from. Most people don’t realize this, but Pleasure Island Youth Baseball is an all-volunteer 501c3 charitable organization. I have small business responsibilities that are necessary to maintain. I am organized, I am a communicator, problem solver, calm, committed, reliable and persistent. I have the ability to anticipate and the willingness to adapt. From June 1, 2020 through the end of May 2021, Pleasure Island Youth Baseball organized over 600 team activities for kids while parts of the Town and other organizations were shut down. We even adapted to offering winter programming when rec basketball was canceled and parents asked me to offer programming to give their kids some recreation and social time with other kids. I haven’t done it all on my own, but I’m proud of my decision to get involved with youth baseball because serving the community is the right thing for me to be doing. Pleasure Island Youth Baseball is Carolina Beach’s largest all-volunteer youth sports organization. We need more like it. We grew from 45 kids in the fall of 2016 to 185 kids this past spring and then 160 this fall (that’s big for fall). We have been inclusive and have adapted to challenges along the way. We’ve created this growth through Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence and nearly two years of COVID. I’m excited and proud that we just started up girls’ softball, as there are not enough activities in Carolina Beach for just the girls. We need to have recreation flag football, outdoor basketball, soccer, tennis, golf and more for kids in CB….especially the 12 & under age groups. We need to have the older kids be involved with the youth sports. They can help assistant coach or umpire / referee games. We need to include the teenagers. There isn’t much for them on the island.

I asked both Mayoral candidates this in a different form, what was your biggest disappointment made by standing council?

 As a body, standing council appears to be disconnected from residents. COVID created an environment that caused Staff and Council to completely withdraw from being visible in the community. Council allowed Town Hall to be closed off from residents and business owners for far too long. During the same time period, Council allowed Staff to pull back on maintaining the stormwater system, something that surfaced in the past two months with the rain events we recently experienced.

Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing? 

How do you reassure them? Most of us moved to Carolina Beach to enjoy all that the town has to offer. My wife and I have lived here for 16 years and I agree with residents who are seeing quality of life issues begin to surface. We are all concerned with overall maintenance issues around all parts of town. Whether you are talking about roads, sidewalks, storm water, water, sewer, Mike Chappell Park, the Lake, Marina, etc… The Town has struggled to keep up with basic maintenance.

 Another hot topic is parking. Parking is stressful during the peak season. You can’t even park to run in and get take-out from our restaurants. You don’t know what is a Town lot and what’s a private lot. Parking meters are constantly not working. Private lots not being able to take money after a certain date….makes no sense and the residents and visitors have no idea what is going on. This is a problem that will persist until Council brings in stakeholders to solve the problem. We will always have issues around peak season, but we can certainly manage the experience better for everyone.

Residents love local businesses. A lot of our business owners are residents too. They have families in CB. Their kids go to our school. All of the businesses should have a good relationship with the Town Staff and Council. Businesses should be incentivized to keep up their buildings and businesses. We need to really crack down on the boardwalk. All buildings at the boardwalk should be well maintained. If we are going to be a family beach, we should have an ordinance that says the boardwalk businesses can’t have their windows covered with bongs. We have boardwalk businesses spending lots of money, time and resources making things beautiful and inviting, while we have some businesses that make locals not want to bring their families to the boardwalk. That’s not right. Clean it up.

 Residents don’t feel welcome in Town Hall. The general attitude of staff towards residents and business owners is not positive. Residents feel like it is an “Us vs Them” attitude. This is our town. We need to take it back. We need to make sure the elected officials get back to being leaders and making sure that the community vibe stays strong.

If residents know their Council has a clear set of goals, these quality of life issues should be addressed. It goes back to creating that mission statement and list of goals. That way, even if we see interruptions from storms or pandemics, we have clear objectives to fall back on when the Town’s business is able to resume. Additionally, some of the problems require input from stakeholders to help solve properly.

Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?  I was the last council candidate to file to run for office because I didn’t see any other candidates who shared my family’s vision for the community. I’ve lived in Carolina Beach with my wife for 16 years. We have two little boys (9 & 12). Running for office is my way of trying to represent all those who feel like their voices and concerns have not been heard over the years. It is time for a new and complimentary perspective on Council. Just over the course of the last couple of months, we’ve been able to shift the conversation of some of the other candidates back to family, community and things that matter to where we live, learn, work and play. Win or lose, I will continue to push leadership in this town to refocus on the thing that makes our community so great, the people. I referenced this in the first campaign video my son Jimmy and I made together. My sons, Willie & Jimmy and I made some videos that talked about different topics. Go back and check out our videos on www.Facebook.com/MattDunnforCB. There will be more to come as we get ready to head out to Vote! When you see me around town, please stop, say hi and let me what’s on your mind!!!

 

If you are elected on to council, what will be the first thing you do?

Establish a quorum on Council directing the Town Manager and Finance officer to provide Council with options (e.g. competitive bond issuance, low-interest State loans) on funding the remaining 4 phases of infrastructure, which includes the North End Water and Wastewater project, as well as increasing water capacity and its relocation to our leased property in the Buffer Zone. Fixing the town’s crumbling infrastructure needs to be the priority. Not to mention, with a total price tag around $40 million, securing the funds at today’s low interest rates, rates which are sure to rise, will reduce the Town’s long-term debt. 

Do you feel like Carolina Beach Town Staff is working effectively? 

Generally speaking, I do believe that Town staff is working effectively. We have an outstanding Town Manager at the helm. Credit goes to the sitting Council for bringing Bruce Oakley on board. Bruce has very talented and experienced department heads overseeing the efforts of hard-working men and women, many of whom we see out across. All of them love the town they serve. 

However, there are process changes that need to made. Two come to mind: the permitting process and work orders. First, the permit approval process is too slow. Over the past 3 months, I’ve heard this concern from several residents. Second, there’s confusion associated with the submission of work orders. Residents have complained to me about their calls not being returned when calling to check the status of their work order. In both cases, I believe automation can help. From permit application to approval, a shorter timeline with preset deadlines for each reviewing authority must be established. Electronic notifications with a deadline for review completion will alert those involved in the application process. Before leaving the Planning Department or hitting submit on the Town website, the applicant should know the date when the permit will be approved.

The status of submitted work orders should be discoverable on the Town website and depicted in a ‘stop-light’ fashion. The work order will be marked on a map of CB. Here again technology and automation come in to play. Following submission via either phone or City Works, workers in the field acknowledge receipt of the work order with a click on their tablet. Until actions have been taken on the work order, the work order, depicted by a circle, is red. As soon as work begins, the status switches to yellow. Comments on the work being done and an estimation of completion can be found by moving the cursor over the circle. Finally, the circle switches to green upon completion. 

As a former Mayor, what do you bring back to the table as already serving on council?

 Having previously served on Council, I was fortunate to routinely work with Federal, State and County agencies on large projects which benefitted Carolina Beach. One example is partnering with the County and US Army Corps of Engineers on a very successful beach renourishment, which took place February and March of 2019. Serving on the executive committee of the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), which involved the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (US Army), surrounding municipalities and other State and County agencies, is another example. The end result of the JLUS were expanded permissions to use our leased property in the Buffer Zone for future infrastructure projects and recreation activities. Alongside the CB Inlet Association, working with the US Coast Guard in Spring of 2019 proved critical in keeping the inlet open for commercial and recreational interests as well as access to the open ocean for rescue and recovery. If elected onto Council, I bring the experience of working with multiple agencies on several projects, the results of which proved fruitful for CB. 

I asked both Mayoral candidates this in a different form, what was your biggest disappointment made by standing council?

The sitting Council did a lot of good for the community in spite of the challenges associated with a pandemic. If anything stands out in terms of a disappointment, it would be the fiscal year 2021-2022 tax rate, which came on the heels of an average property reappraisal increase of 34%. Council lowered the tax rate to 21.5 cents per $100 of appraised value, representing a substantial 21% tax increase. If on Council at the time, I would have asked for a list of expenses totaling ~$950,000 to be considered for budget cuts in order to establish a revenue-neutral tax rate of just over 17 cents. However, I wasn’t privy to all the constraints that the Town Manager and Council faced as they entered budget season.            

As former Mayor, what was your biggest disappointment while you were on council?

In June 2019, I asked the acting Town Manager rank-order the top 6 chronic storm water hot spots across Town. I asked that he update Council on the time, cost and actions needed (e.g. engineering designs, DOT permits etc.) to resolve each of the “top 6.” The Town Manager provided updates at the regular Council meetings as well as our workshops. At the end of my term six months later, two of the six had been resolved. Looking back, I should have worked harder at establishing a quorum on Council to direct the necessary funds and required Town Staff actions, such as DOT engagement, in order to resolve the remaining four. 

Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing?  How do you reassure them? The principal mission of any municipality of any size is to pursue action that support public health, safety and welfare. Over the past three months, the overriding concerns brought to my attention include the need to resolve storm water issues and enhance pedestrian safety. These two issues have a direct impact on quality of life. My assurance to my fellow CB residents is that I will prioritize action on modernizing our aging and, in some cases, crumbling infrastructure, which includes the storm water system. Many residents express a concern for their safety, especially at pedestrian crosswalks. To that end, I will continue the work undertaken by the past two Councils in partnering with NCDOT and make additional safety modifications to Dow Rd and Lake Park Blvd, such as traffic beacons and road calming measures, in order to make CB an even more friendly bike and pedestrian community.

Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?  I was fortunate to have been part of a Council which accomplished much good for our town. During those same years of service as mayor, I remained accessible and accountable, never once turning down a resident’s request to meet. If elected back to Council, I pledge to remain the same—accessible and accountable, while tirelessly working on improving our quality of life. Thank you for your time.  

If you are elected on to council, what will be the first thing you do? The first thing I want to see our new council tackle is prioritizing our much-needed infrastructure projects, as well as an improved schedule of maintenance for these capital improvements.  For too many years, we have put off much needed maintenance to our water and sewer because no one wanted to spend the necessary dollars for regular maintenance and upkeep, and we are left with decades of crumbling infrastructure.  We can no longer afford to place bandaids on our hemorrhaging infrastructure.

Do you feel like Carolina Beach Town Staff is working effectively? I have run a successful business for 17 years and understand the dynamics in a workplace; there is always room for improvement.  One of the things I hear most is that our citizens have a hard time communicating with town staff and getting answers on a wide variety of issues.  Over the last few months, while attending Council Meetings and Workshops, several unexpected and unbudgeted expenditures transpired.  There was a buy out of a cell phone contract that cost us $59,000 and the buy out of the parking company contract which cost us $36,000. In addition, our lake dredge permit expired which will be costly.  These mistakes should not have occurred, and I believe continuity is the reason for these mistakes.  Our Town Manager turnover the last few years has left a gap in executing policy that Council sets.  Our Town Manager answers directly to Council and Council needs to give clear guidance and direction. 

If not, what will you change? We need accountability measures in place when costly mistakes are made.  We also need a thorough review of all existing contracts and leases.  We need improved and streamlined customer service. One of my goals is to not only have continued conversations with department heads but, staff that are out on the streets making the repairs, picking up trash as well as those sitting in our customer service windows. 

What specific skills do you bring to council should you be elected? One of my strongest traits is that of an organizer; I effectively execute goals with results.  I am someone who thoroughly researches the issue at hand, in order to understand the impacts of that issue.  I believe Planning & Zoning prepares its members for being on council because it hears many town issues prior to council, therefore my service as current Chair for Planning & Zoning and Vice Chair term prior to that has prepared me to better serve as a council member.

I asked both Mayoral candidates this in a different form, what was your biggest disappointment made by standing council? My biggest disappointment is that for three election cycles we have discussed the Lake Dredge Project which has yet to be completed.  While the lake is a wonderful place for activities, it is also one of our biggest assets for storm water mitigation.  I am excited to hear we have the funding to complete this project but am disappointed that for six years we still do not have a plan for placement of the spoils, and that our permit was allowed to expire, which means we will spend more tax dollars for the permit reissuance. 

Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing.  How do you reassure them?   Our quality of life must be our number one priority.  For the last 10+ years, I have spoken at council meetings about the importance of putting our infrastructure ahead of amenity projects.  While I agree the amenity projects are much more fun, I always ask the question, what good are they if our infrastructure continues to decline and decay?  I will continue to put our resident’s quality of life issues at the top of my priorities.

Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council? This community is special and unique. Through my volunteer efforts, I have been told time and time again by outside agencies that they have never seen a community that pulls together during times of need like we do.  That is the spirit I want to keep alive in Carolina Beach.  I must tell you; I have a hard time talking about myself and telling you why you should vote for me because I serve with intention, not for attention. My efforts are through teamwork.  What I will ask, is let my actions and service speak to my character, my experience, and my willingness to serve and I would appreciate your vote on November 2.   

Island Gazette: We are heading into an election for council, can you give us the inside scoop of being a council member in CB?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Council is all about teamwork.  Unlike in the private sector where a leader can form their own team and surround themselves with individuals of complementary skills, Council members are elected.  We come from all walks of life, all levels of education and experience. The outgoing council worked hard to put their ego’s aside, drop their personal agendas and work together.  This allowed this council to hit the ground running immediately in Dec 2019.  That is what’s most critical, open-minded individuals, good listeners, who want to work together for their town.

Island Gazette: What was the biggest surprise for you after you were sworn in?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The serious limitations on municipal government by the state.  Council cannot tackle many if the initiatives residents want.  We can only work within the legal framework given to us.  To make the change at the state level takes years to accomplish, often longer than most local officials’ tenure.  We must stick to a consistent vision that transcends any one council.

Island Gazette: You mentioned this council getting off to a fast start in 2019.  What do you see as the major accomplishments of this 2019-2021 Council? 

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The results are quite remarkable.  COVID helped the town and council focus.  Not a single meeting or workshop was missed.  I think we all learned how to be effective with technology and many meetings moved online.  We continued to meet with County, State and Federal partners as usual but in a more focused fashion with less travel time and distraction.  As for accomplishments, the list is very long, but we stabilized the town administration by hiring a town manager almost immediately.  Working with him and his team, we were able to navigate COVID and ensure that our first responders and employees were kept safe and healthy.  Council immediately went to work on beach nourishment by appointing Councilman Shuttleworth to continue his work, ensuring we renewed our permitting.  We stabilized the turnover in the police department. Mayor Pro Tem Healy has led the charge on a renewed relationship with MOTSU. Lastly, we have put the town on a significantly better financial footing by growing our reserve funds.  These were the top goals in 2019.

Councilman Lynn Barbee: I’d like to add that navigating COVID was not easy.  We fall under the county health department, and as many know the information was changing rapidly.  I must give tremendous credit to Mayor Pierce.  While we consulted on most every matter, she was the face of the town and much of the weight was on her shoulders.  I have heard it said that Mayor Pierce didn’t have the opportunity she deserved as Mayor.  I disagree.  I think Mayor Pierce was the exact leader for the time.  It has been an honor to serve with her.

Island Gazette: What has been the biggest disappointment?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The Lake Dredge Project.  I remember when running for office thinking “How hard can this be?”.  I remember sitting in with the engineering firms listening to them explain hydraulic pressure, sloughing off of sand-based structures, and transportation of a slurry type material.  It was an eye opener to how difficult this project would be.  I am happy to report that the project is moving, it is just way more complicated than we knew.  It’ll get done.

Island Gazette: Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing?  How do you reassure them?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Change is hard.  I remember earlier times of great change, when subdivisions like Carolina Sands were built.  I remember the Condo boom in the early 80’s.  Change is inevitable.  Many years ago, I was reminiscing about the glory days to a visiting friend.  He said something that stuck with me, “Nothing will stay the same over time, it will change, that doesn’t mean it is not fantastic, just different”.  I learned to separate my pining for the past from objective observations about today.  We live in the best town.  We have a community with a huge heart.  Our quality of life is top shelf.  Let’s not lose sight of that.  We need to celebrate that and let it fuel us thru the coming years.  It is Fantastic!

Island Gazette: With the pressure of change that we all feel, how are we going to navigate thru this growth period without losing what we have?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Our quality of life is provided by a symbiotic relationship among the businesses, residents, and our visitors.  It’s a three-legged chair.  If one fails, the chair falls over.  I have lived here when businesses were closed after Labor Day.  Trust me the quality of life is impacted when going OTB is your only option.  If the tourists stop coming, the businesses are hard to sustain year-round.  So, we need to embrace them.  Without the taxes tourist pay, the tax burden on residents would make it more difficult for many to live here.  We need each other.

Island Gazette: Can you be a little more specific?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: We must adjust and stabilize the revenue streams that provide town services.  Highest priority for me is relaxing the use constraints on the room occupancy tax.  Visitors are paying significant taxes, but we have been restricted by the state on how we can spend it.  We need amenities and services to make sure our visitors have a quality experience here.  We need to adapt to the changing times.  Second, as the county grows, we are not going to be able to handle every visitor.  We just can’t.  We are full now on peak weekends.  This is a problem we have never had.  For most of my life every possible visitor was wanted.  We need to ensure that everyone is paying their share and it is applied to the services they utilize or benefit from.

Island Gazette: Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?

Councilman Lynn Barbee:  Love where you live!  We are more alike than different.  Lift your head up from some of the tactical issues and remember to enjoy what we have here.  Democracy works.  Vote your conscious and the next council will be fine.

The Island Women will host their Flock of Food Trucks this Sunday August 29th at the Carolina Beach Lake from noon until 5:00pm. This fun-filled, family friendly, fundraiser that will include food trucks, live music from Bacon Grease and the Port City Shakedown, corn hole, 50/50 raffle, Beer and Wine and a Kidszone! Presale tickets are available at eventbrite.com, then search Island Women Flock of Food Truck.

Island Women is a non-profit community action organization open to all women interested in improving the amenities that Pleasure Island has to offer. As a diverse group of local women with many talents and resources, our objective is to enhance the quality of life on Pleasure Island for residents and guests. For more information follow the “Island Women on facebook or visit www.islandwomen.org!

 



 

 

 

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