Editorial: Town To Try Again For Boardwalk Extension

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 09 September 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Town of Carolina Beach will attempt, again, in November to get a variance to extend our existing brand new 750+ foot long wooden oceanfront boardwalk in the downtown area another 875' feet to the north. They withdrew their last request for a variance when it became apparent the State Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) was not likely to vote in favor of it and they would not be able to return with the same request at a later date. They planned to return to the CRC on April 29th and 30th, to ask again. That didn't happen. So they waited and are now in the process of secretly composing another variance request to be submitted for consideration by the CRC at their  November 18th and 19th meetings.
I say secretly because public records requests for information is typically met with responses such as protected legal advice and preparation materials, etc.
That's why using the word "secret" isn't trumping up the situation, it's 100% accurate.
The location of that meeting is to be determined, but it's a good bet it will be out-of-town. Unlike the last one where the Town withdrew their request at a meeting held in downtown Wilmington.
Guess the Town's playing on the old saying, "Location, location, location" only in this context it's to remove the angry resident factor from the equation to improve their odds.
One of the issues last time was opposition from residents living in the area where the extension would cross their ocean views. That's a valid issue for those property owners to raise because ask any other resident living on the oceanfront if they want a wooden walkway built in between their home and the beach and many will say no.
Among numerous claims presented by the Town to justify the extension such as providing additional public access, preserving the environment and others, they claim it will provide additional ADA handicap access to both view and access the beach front. Additionally, it will connect the downtown Boardwalk area to the Town's Marina several blocks away. First, the existing 750+ foot long boardwalk has never experienced a traffic jam of people needing ADA access. It's was more than adequate and more than doubling that area is akin to building a 50-bedroom house for two people.
Second, it will not connect the street to the beach for public access. Standing in the middle of the extension, you'll have to walk over 400' feet in either direction to access Carolina Beach Avenue North at existing access ramps. If the project is so outstanding, why the secrecy? Why hire additional legal counsel? What is the Town hiding from? We'll just have to wait for the government to decide when it's time for us to know what they've been planning.

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