Editorial: Many Taxpayers Will Have To Camp Elsewhere

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 14 January 2015 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

If you are a taxpaying citizen of Carolina Beach, or New Hanover County, you'll have to race to the reservation system this summer or sit on the sidelines watching non-taxpayers enjoy camping at Freeman Park on the North End of Carolina Beach while you pack up your pop-up tent and toss the beach towels in the truck only to be forced off the beach after a certain amount of time each summer day. (See report on page 1)
In a town were elections have often been decided by less than ten votes, this issue will certainly be a topic during the upcoming election in November right after many voting Freeman Park pass holders have become angry with the new camping restrictions. As a taxpayer, how will you react when told that even after you pay taxes, paid a hefty price for a vehicle pass to the park, you can't go out on the beach, camp and wake up to a beautiful sunrise because the Town Council limited it to 100 camp sites that tourists reserved online.
Too bad if you and the wife decided Saturday afternoon that you wanted to go camping with friends that night. You'll be out of luck. No more spur of the moment camping trips to Freeman Park.
And it will be hard for officials to explain to the public when each night it will be clearly visible that large areas of the park are vast vacant open areas where people could put up a small tent and enjoy camping with their families.
The major holiday weekends are when park attendance skyrockets and presents logistical issues regarding trash, alcohol, etc. Perhaps the Town should consider limiting camping restrictions to just those high traffic weekends.
The Town is depending on revenues from park passes to help fund beach nourishment and inlet dredging. If Council adopts the new camping restrictions in February, that revenue stream will diminish to some degree.
Knowing that Council has good intentions to protect the environment and promote a family friendly park, it should also be pointed out that the worse way to do that is turn away the families who simply want to camp. Focusing on people causing problems would be a more prudent action.

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