Meeting To Discuss Freeman Park Issues Set For Thursday Sept. 18th

Meeting To Discuss Freeman Park Issues Set For Thursday Sept. 18th Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach will hold a special meeting regarding issues at Freeman Park on September 18th, at 6PM and would like to hear from citizens on how to better manage the park.  They are seeking input on management of the park including ideas such as a reservation system for camping, restricting camping and other ways to promote better stewardship of the area. Litter and trash management has long been an issue within the park particularly following holiday weekends. According to a release from the Town on July 15th, "Freeman Park is a huge attraction for the Town of Carolina Beach. Given the large crowds we need to periodically review park policies and ways to keep Freeman Park safe and clean for community, and still accommodate our visitors. The Carolina Beach Town Council is seeking your participation in helping us determine better ways to improve park management in a manner that will provide a positive experience at the park for locals and visitors alike. Please join us in the Council Chambers on Thursday, September 18th at 6:00 p.m. for a community workshop meeting where we hope you will share your comments, ideas and concerns. We have heard from several individual citizens, but we would like to have as much participation as possible as we consider these issues.  If you are unable to make the meeting, please feel free to contact the Mayor or any council member,  or you may reply to this post with your suggestions."
Freeman Park, located beyond the end of Canal Drive on the Northern End of Pleasure Island, is largely outside of the Town's jurisdiction. They have authority to manage the area as a park. That was granted to them by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners some years ago. There is a fee charged for vehicle access to drive on the beachfront within the park. The Town, by it's own admission, doesn't charge people to walk into the park.
They can only charge for four-wheel drive vehicle access.
Town Councilman Steve Shuttleworth commented to a citizen on Facebook stating, "I have been thinking along time about increasing the volume when voicing my concerns related to Freeman Park. As you know I kicked the ant pile last year on Memorial Day about the amount of trash and people and condition they left our environment in . That  sparked some changes but not nearly enough! We had some good in put but not great fall up. In the past year we have been able to get the hatteras ramp installed including permission to place a dumpster at the end. That should help provide our visitors a place to leave their trash rather than on the darn beach. We have also added ash can containers so people can place their fire pit remains somewhere other than just burying it in the sand. We got permission for the 1st time ever to use the beach rake for 2 days after every major holiday and additionally once a month on the North End. That was a huge victory but not the end all to be all."
Shuttleworth explained, "Other Issues I have been pushing, and the Freeman Park Committe have been asking for, is more enforcement of current" rules, "Unfortunately I' not sure these will be enough to solve the problems. I'm thinking we could create a reservation system and limit the number of campers. If they have to make a reservation and leave a deposit perhaps they would be more responsible. We may have to look at even stopping over night camping on major weekends, or during the summer in total. Maybe a day park only like the South End. Call me crazy but they don't seem to have the same problems down there as we do. No fires no camping? Another option is to limit the number of visitors/vehicles each day. This is done across the country at other parks why not here? We could easily start by handing out 55 gallon trash bags to each vehicle as it enters the park and encourage them to pack it in pack it out! Leave no trace! I know these may not be popular but I can't sit by and watch the continued derogation of our natural environment."
Shuttleworth explained, "Dogs on the beach. I want to be able to take my dog to the beach to run. I am a responsible pet owner. I'm tired of feeling like a rule breaker just to throw a ball to my dog. I want to get an area designated a dog area year round. Or perhaps on the beach until 9:30 am and from 7-10 pm? Something. Many communities in the country have dog friendly beach areas. Let me know what you think. Your "rule breaker dog owner" councilmen."
Mayor Dan Wilcox commented earlier this week, "Town Council is monitoring activities at the park and will be holding a special joint  workshop/meeting with the Freeman Park Committee soon after Labor Day to address numerous concerns.
This meeting will be designed to create public participation and discuss possible solutions related to problems and questions mentioned in this thread and in other forums. With the information collected over this summer season, and input from the community, we are hopeful we can identify and implement solutions prior to next season. In the meantime, I am available to meet with any citizen or group to discuss your ideas, as I know other Council Members are."
The cost of the season permit is $100 from January 1 to December 31. Discounted season permits may be purchased at $60 from December 1, to December 31. Daily passes may be purchased for $20 at the entrance of Freeman Park.  Seven day passes are available for $50.
Police Chief Ken Hinkle said the owner of the drumset left on the beach recently was located, cited $150 and returned to take the drums off the beach.

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