Editorial: Safety On Rock Wall Not Kure Beach's Problem

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 29 July 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

I applaud Kure Beach Council member Emilie Swearingen for her concern about the safety of people who walk across "The Rocks" at Fort Fisher on the southern most tip of Pleasure Island. However, it's not the Town of Kure Beach's responsibility.
She presented the idea of charging a fee for emergency responses to public calls for assistance in that area and inquired about whether or not the Town - possibly in partnership with another government entity - could install a type of fence to prevent people from walking on the rocks.
Again, it's a discussion born out of good intentions but it's not the Town's responsibility.
First, as the Town Attorney noted during their July 22nd, meeting, New Inlet Dam (Referred to as "The Rocks") is largely outside of New Hanover County and located in Brunswick County.
Swearingen said she had a discussion with the fire chief about his department responding to calls for water rescues in that area and people getting stranded during high tides.
A couple of observations are in order. You can tell someone, "Don't Do This" and some people will inevitably do it anyway.
I'm guilty of walking across the rock wall many years ago knowing there was a chance that if I didn't head back soon it would mean waiting for the tide to go out. That takes several hours. I only did that once. Lesson learned.
The wall is not safe in many areas because of shifting rocks, gaps and of course it's often slippery when wet.
Erecting a fence would mean expense and enforcement.
People will almost certainly find a way around it.
It's not within the Town's jurisdiction. If rescue calls are an issue, and I've not seen the data, perhaps it's time for Brunswick County to either pay Kure Beach per call for service through an interlocal agreement or put a boat in the water every time a call comes in.
The wall is a popular way for people to enjoy wildlife including bird watching and fishing. The view in that area is outstanding and erecting a fence at the area leading out to the rocks would be a horrific addition to landscape.
Swearingen has raised an important question: Who is responsible for responding to emergency calls in that area and why is Kure Beach expected to perform that service?
Fortunately they have been responding when called upon but that's because they are emergency responders and they're mission is to save lives when called upon. Kure Beach always lives up to that mission.

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