Editorial: Greenway In Kure Beach A Bad Idea

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 12 February 2020 03:16

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Recently Kure Beach Commissioner Joseph Whitley issued a statement to citizens in regards to questions about extending the Island Greenway in Carolina Beach south into Kure Beach.

You can read his statement below...

Whitley is correct in all of his points. Many residents in Carolina Beach were opposed to the Island Greenway for various reasons including security, long-term costs and other issues. And to extend the Greenway south into Kure Beach would absolutely exceed the cost of the Carolina Beach project by millions of dollars. Over the last decade federal and state grant funds have been available to cities and towns to create bike friendly paths in Towns that are willing to apply for those grants. While paths such as the ones constructed in Wilmington along busy roads serve to facilitate safe bike and pedestrian travel separated from high volume thoroughfares, in Towns like Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, there are numerous streets parallel to a limited number of busy thoroughfares that provide safe areas of travel compared to high volume traffic areas. And when required, pedestrians and bicyclists can cross at stop lights and crosswalks.

Extending the Island Greenway in Carolina Beach south into Kure Beach would be a waste of money. It would also create an issue of security concern. Build a multi-use path behind numerous homes  and it will be  cause for homeowner's concern about people lurking behind their homes with less than kind motives.
Perhaps erecting signs to create a virtual extension on existing roads is the best, most secure and less expensive option.

Commissioner Addresses Questions Of Extending Island Greenway

KURE BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach completed a new multi-use bike and pedestrian path in 2019. The 1.2 mile paved 10’ multi-use path borders residential neighborhoods such as Carolina Sands and land owned by the U.S. Army's Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) from Mike Chappel Park on Dow Road south to Alabama Avenue.

According to Kure Beach Town Commissioner Joseph Whitley, some residents recently raised the question of extending that path south into Kure Beach. The issue has come up a couple of times over the past ten years, and many residents and leaders have resisted the idea of extending any type of multi-use path behind homes in Kure Beach.

Last week Whitley published a statement on the Town's website. He explained, "There has been some discussion of late about extending the Carolina Beach Greenway through Kure Beach to the Ferry Landing. I wanted address the topic since this question was also asked the evening of our Forum prior to the election. First, let’s take a look at the Carolina Beach portion of the Greenway. They received grants for their section, 1.2 miles, but still the Town spent approximately $350k from the total just over one million dollars. For our section we would be looking at just over three miles. So even if at this point we could receive those same grants, our total would be just over one million dollars."

Whitley explained, "There are several obstacles for the Greenway being extended through Kure Beach also. I will list these with the challenge: Where to build it? Town property or MOTSU? We don’t have a clear line to build on and I strongly feel MOTSU would not allow on their property at this point.  Building over Dow Remains. Those remains are still buried across the island. You can see them in the Ocean, before the curve on Dow and on MOTSU property. Their presence could lead to environmental impact study."

He explained, "Building behind the homes on Settler’s Lane. The forty-six home owners have valid concerns with people biking, walking or jogging 25 feet from their decks or patios. This would be a huge hurdle to overcome to start moving forward even a tiny bit. Wetlands on the south side of Town. If the path goes through MOTSU property south of K Ave., there would be a tremendous effort for approval from the State. To even access the area to build would be destructive, needing to cut trees or fill in, unless it was a raised structure, leading to higher costs for building and eventual maintenance."

He explained, "Fort Fisher AIr Force Base. Permission to build across their property will be difficult to obtain, adding further layers of approval with subsequent delays. Historic Fort Fisher. With their new building planned and the already delicate nature of their Site, approval again would be time-consuming and need State backing. Extend beyond Historic Fort Fisher to Ferry Landing: Again, looking at crossing substantial wetlands with State approval required for environmental reasons."

Whitley explained, "The extension of the Greenway is a layered, difficult topic with several players involved, the Town, State, citizens of Kure Beach and our neighbors across the river. There is not any easy answer. Council is not opposed to the extension. However, with some lessons learned from Florence, we are currently focusing on improving drainage throughout Town to better protect properties of the citizens. That will be our focus going forward, working closely with MOTSU on clearing our 3.2 miles of ditches, a drainage line down the Fire Lane on Settler’s Lane, and other projects to improve to the greater good for the whole Town. Any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Council."

Citizens View from 2014:

In 2014, the issue came up before the Town Council, resident Judy Larrick wrote a letter to the editor stating:

As a resident of Kure Beach, I sympathize with Carolina Beach residents who are protesting a bike path in isolated areas of the MOTSU (Sunny Point) land behind their homes. 

This is exactly the same situation that occurred in Kure Beach in 2008 when the “Greenway” was proposed by the Wilmington-Metropolitan Planning Org. (WMPO) to travel through Sunny Point land behind homes in KB.  The Kure Beach Council sided with the residents and rejected that plan because of safety, fire and crime concerns as well as resident’s privacy issues. 

Also at that time, the federal government denied the proposed path through Ft. Fisher Air Force Recreation Area, and the State denied the path to run through State land south of the island. 

Furthermore, Kure Beach officials objected also to the later WMPO proposal that the path would run from Alabama Ave down FT. Fisher Blvd. through the Town of Kure Beach. 

Residents advocated for an off-road bike lane along right-of-way on Dow Road.  If WMPO had adopted that idea into their Plan, it might now be completed along with the recent upgrades to Dow Road.

In the WMPO Greenway Plan in June, 2012, they state the project vision “As vegetated buffers, greenways also protect natural habitats, improve water quality and reduce the impacts of flooding in floodplain areas.”  This plan for Carolina Beach does none of that.  In fact, it would destroy hundreds of trees and increase storm water run-off with 10-ft (overkill?) of asphalt in what is now a pristine natural habitat and maritime forest.  And the addition of a costly required “prison” fence should have killed this project entirely. (Does anyone believe the Army will EVER have enough funds to install their own fence on this land in our lifetime?)  Surely that money would be better spent on a bike path, off-road, in the right-of-way of an existing road, such as Dow Rd, Ocean Blvd, or Cape Fear Blvd, and in open view for safety.  The residents have good reasons to be concerned about this path.  Imagine the potential for misuse of this area, especially at night, creating opportunities for crime as well as illegal fireworks, skateboarding, noise, etc.  I don’t believe anyone would want to live with that behind their homes.  Residents should also be concerned about using an area completely hidden from public view and readily available help if needed.  Do you want your kids there alone?

The Sunny Point land and pristine maritime forest now entirely off-limits from use, development and man’s destruction is a gift for ALL Pleasure Island residents and should be protected.  I also remember in 2008 that MOTSU would not allow use of their land without approval of BOTH KURE BEACH AND CAROLINA BEACH.
Of course, Commanders at Sunny Point have changed hands since 2008, but I would hope they now would review and reconsider this use for their land, especially in view of the past and present resident’s opposition and the potential that opening one section would encourage unauthorized use in other areas as well.
I also hope that the Carolina Beach Town Council will agree with their residents that this path is not in the best interest of the Town, residents or the best use of the funds required.

I also can’t help but be suspicious of WMPO’s future goals after this CB path which would end at Alabama with nowhere to go from there?  Is Kure Beach going to have to fight this again?   I believe the WMPO’s Island Greenway Plan has been flawed from the beginning and it is time to put it to a FINAL rest.

Judy F. Larrick,

Kure Beach, NC

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