YEAR IN REVIEW PART TWO: Freeman Park, Boardwalk Project, Fires, Festivals and More

YEAR IN REVIEW PART TWO: Freeman Park, Boardwalk Project, Fires, Festivals and More Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 31 December 2014 05:00

Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Each year the Island Gazette publishes highlights of top stories from through out the year. 2014 was a busy year with a variety of news stories landing on the front page. The following is Part Two of a two-part look back at stories in 2014:

Hurricane Arthur Grazes Cape Fear Region Leaving Minor Damage

Hurricane Arthur grazed the Cape Fear region Thursday July 3, leaving little or no noticeable damage. In Carolina Beach there were reports of strong wind gusts, but National Weather Service reports show wind readings of around 40mph. Very few reports of downed trees, limbs and power lines. The real impact was on tourism and the July 4th holiday that so many businesses depend upon.

Tropical Storm Arthur began showing signs of tropical storm development on Monday June 30th after a string of storms rolled off the North Carolina coast heading south towards Florida. That's when Arthur began to take shape and moved at a snails pace throughout the week in a northerly direction off the Florida coastline.
Arthur eventually reached tropical storm status and passed well off shore of the North Carolina coast on July 3rd at which point it had been updated to hurricane status.
Winds were around 100 mph when it reached a weak category two status. It was far enough off shore that only tropical storm force winds grazed coastal areas.
In Carolina Beach the unofficial wind reading from the National Weather Service for Carolina Beach was 41 mph. In Kure Beach the reading was 71 mph. At Johnny Mercer Pier in Wrightsville Beach is was 61 mph.
Flooding was only reported in isolated areas of New Hanover County.
Many local businesses remained open throughout the storm. People were out sight seeing at the rocks at Fort Fisher Thursday afternoon.
Wind driven rain made it hard for most people to take photos or cell phone video but many people gave it a shot walking along the wooden boardwalk in downtown Kure Beach.
The Independence Day fireworks celebration scheduled for July 3rd was canceled.
Freeman Park on the North End of Pleasure Island was closed until the following morning due to concerns with over wash from strong surf conditions stranding vehicles and people on the undeveloped beachfront within the park.
The following day Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer explained himself, Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin and Building Inspector Richard Lang surveyed the Town and found "no significant damage" other than a few shingles and upside down BBQ grills.
He explained, "We had one tree come down at the lake and that will be removed this morning.  No other limbs or large debris in the Streets were found.  Boardwalk area is being cleaned.  Bathrooms are unlocked and ready.  Port-A-Johns are clean, unlocked and ready for service."
Some traffic lights were being repaired including a signal at Cape Fear Blvd and Lake Park Blvd. Lifeguards returned to work at 9AM the next day.
He explained, "All wells, pump stations and the Waste Water Treatment Plant operations had no problems during the storms."  
Business owners depend upon tourism revenues from the July 4th holiday and many feared Arthur had blown away all hope of a busy weekend.
Traffic on Snow's Cut Bridge leading onto Pleasure Island was backed up at times on Friday and Saturday causing long lines of vehicles to form in both directions on Lake Park Blvd. Sunny weather brought out tourists throughout the remainder of the weekend.

The Kure Beach Pier during the afternoon of July 3rd as Hurricane Arthur passed offshore of southeastern North Carolina coast.

Roads Paved In Time For Carolina Beach Elementary Students Return

Clarendon Avenue at the Carolina Beach Elementary School.  The Town said a utility project on roads around the school would be completed before students returned for the 2015-2016 School Year.  The roads were soon paved.

Vehicles lined up along Atlanta Avenue Tuesday afternoon, August 26th. Parents were ready to pick up their kids after their first day back to school. Roads were recently repaved following a utility project just in time for school opening.

It was close, but the Town of Carolina Beach pushed to get crews working on the ongoing Phase 1A water and sewer project to finish and pave roads surrounding the Carolina Beach Elementary School prior to students returning on Tuesday August 26th.
Rain caused delays throughout the summer season causing concern among parents that roads would still be unfinished and cause major traffic problems when dropping off in the morning and picking up kids in the afternoon. Crews worked in the rain in the days leading up to August 26th when parents arrived to drop off their children for the first day of the 2014 school year. Gil Dubois  - Public Utilities Director - for the Town explained, "We have encountered multiple  unforeseen situation and have created long term/permanent solutions to address and
 correct each of them as they are discovered. We sincerely appreciate the help, support and understand of the residents, the officials of the school, parents of students, our council and other parties as we continue to work hard to generate a very good finish product that will serve the town for many years to come."
The Construction crews were working on street preparation last week on Clarendon Ave from 4th to 5th St and on 5th St from Clarendon to Atlanta. They finished the last installation of pipes in the proposed construction area around the school. Crews continued to remove asphalt and dirt as required to put the new road surface down to meet or exceed North Carolina Department of Transportation specifications.
By all accounts, traffic was typical for a school day with lines running up Atlanta Avenue waiting to pull up to the front of the school. Buses were loaded as usual. Work on streets surrounding the school will wrap up as the project progresses to other sections of Town.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk Extension Delayed Again

Photo by: Paul Boroznoff of : The Carolina Beach Boardwalk Improvement Project started in October and should be completed by the Spring of 2015.

The Town of Carolina Beach withdrew a request for a variance from the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission to extend a downtown ocean front wooden boardwalk 875' to the north of the existing walkway during a meeting held October 22nd, in Wilmington.
A project to replace the existing wooden walkway along the oceanfront at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk area started the previous week.
In late February 2014, the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) approved the majority of a variance requested by the Town to renovate their existing oceanfront wooden Boardwalk originally built in 1989. The CRC voted to approve the renovation of the existing boardwalk to include doubling  the width of the boardwalk lane from 8 Ft. to 16 Ft., renovating the landscaped coves, adding windsails for shading, benches, seating areas, swings, improvements to the sound stage gazebo including a new roof over the sound stage, and improved beach access points.
The project cost is estimated at approximately $1,603,000 part of which will be funded through a $250,000 Water Resources grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources that requires a $250,000 match from the Town and a $603,000 CAMA grant from the State Division of Coastal Management. Last summer the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a grant to the town of $500,000 towards the project.
The project would replace the existing wooden boardwalk within a setback area governed by coastal development regulations. Part of the project would extend the existing boardwalk along the beachfront 875' feet north to Pelican Lane and the Town was set to obtain a variance from the rules governing development in that area from the CRC at their July 30th, meeting. That request was later moved to the CRC's October 22nd, meeting.
The Town had to prove that strict application of state law creates a hardship for the project. Phase one of the project was approved under a CAMA Minor Development permit in September 2013. That phase includes replacement of crossover beach accesses, viewing platform improvements, and excavation of non-dune landscaped coves westward of the existing Boardwalk and redistribution of the sand from those areas to enhance dune low spots eastward of the existing Boardwalk.
A portion of phase 2 of the project proposed under a CAMA Minor Development permit was approved by the CRC on the Town's petition for a variance. Specifically, a variance was granted for the demolition of the existing Boardwalk and crossovers, widening of the existing Boardwalk, and installation of five new public beach accesses, the addition of a roof on a viewing platform, installation of showers at the Harper Avenue access, and installation of a splash pad/water park facility. The Town applied for a CAMA Minor Permit in May of this year to extend the Boardwalk 875' feet north from Harper Avenue to Pelican Lane. That permit was denied on June 2, 2014. The design proposed in that permit was identical to that approved for the new southern section of the Boardwalk by the CRC in February at 16' wide with three new 10' wide public accesses, three rebuilt existing private accesses, and five ninety-six square foot bump outs for benches and swings. A lattice trellis is proposed at the Pelican Lane access.
The proposed area for the extension is located in the Town's Central Business District (CBD). There are a total of five property owners adjacent to the proposed extension. There are three hotels, a 76-unit condo complex and a two story single-family residence.
The Town claims the extension, "Creates a unique opportunity for the general public without other means of access to view and access the ocean and dune ecosystem from a variety of locations. With in increased demand for access to the beach and ocean from elderly and handicapped individuals, the northern extension will allow elderly and handicapped individuals convenient beach access as well as the ability to view the dune ecosystem. An undue hardship to the public would be created from strict application of the development rules, standards, or orders issued by the Commission. Specifically, handicapped individuals would be denied a convenient and safe means of accessing the beach and/or viewing the ocean and dune ecosystem. Furthermore, general public's access to the ocean and view the dune ecosystem would be impaired. A lack of safe access, as provided by the proposed Boardwalk could result in damage to the dune ecosystems by those creating their own means of access to the beach."
During the October 22, meeting of the CRC, the Town withdrew their request for a variance to construct an extension.
Mayor Dan Wilcox said the Town withdrew it's request for a
variance due to questions posed by the Coastal Resources Commission during their review of the request. It became apparent after the CRC voted on thre required findings of fact the variance request would likely not be approved. The CRC board asked the Town if they would like to withdraw the request because if it were turned down the Town could not come back at a later date.
The questions covered a range of topics including vegetation, policing the area, benefit of parallel structures along the oceanfront and other topics.
Wilcox said the meeting at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Wilmington was well attended by residents including those opposed to the project.
He said the Town will have to return to the CRC at a later date after addressing questions and further discussions with area property owners.
A project to replace the existing wooden Boardwalk in the downtown area began in mid October with demolition of the old wooden structure. Wilcox said both projects were bid separately so withdrawing the variance request for the boardwalk extension will not stop the current renovations to the older existing boardwalk which are set for completion in the Spring of 2015. The Town is offering sponsorship opportunities ranging from $250 to $2,500 to help fund the project. Current sponsorship opportunities include three options.
For $250 you can personalize a 1/2" thick fish tile made of Corian in an Elderberry blue color engraved with your choice of wording. For example, "The Jones Family, Bob, Mary and Ed."The tile will be embedded in the wooden walkway.
For $2,200 you can have a fish tile embedded in one of seven 10' swing back benches that will be located along the walkway. Each bench can hold up to 10 tiles. For $2,500 you can have a tile placed on one of the nine 6' foot swings that will be located along the walkway offering relaxing views of the ocean. The swings can hold up to 6 tiles each. There's a limited number of spaces available for swings and benches but as the project progresses the Boardwalk Improvement Committee says there will be additional sponsorship opportunities in the future.
The first date for purchase will be Monday, November 17th.  There will be brochures located at businesses around town and at Town Hall at 1121 North Lake Park Blvd.  You can also visit the Town's website at to place your order.
For ordering of Benches and Swings or for questions please contact Hannah Dotson at Town Hall at (910) 458-2999 ext 246 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dragon Boat Festival Raises Over $12,000 For Step Up For Soldiers 

The second annual Dragon Boat Festival was held September 20th at the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina. 17 teams competed in races throughout the day ultimately raising $12,000 for Step of for Soldiers.

September 24th : On September 20th,  the Carolina Beach Marina was the place to be with huge crowds joining in on the fun for the 2nd Annual Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival. The two-day event promotes sports, health, wellness, and arts to celebrate our island community with this year’s event proceeds benefitting “Step Up for Soldiers.” This year 17 Teams competed for awards ranging from fastest team to most spirited and best costume! 2nd Annual Division Winners are as follows:  Division A Winners “Organized Chaos” all the way from Charlotte and posted a new course record time 1:18.02! Division B Winners - Gibby's Dock and Dine ”Grinders.” Division C Winners - Coldwell Banker- SeaCoast Realty “SeaCoasters.”  Division D Winners - Cut N Up Hair Salon “Oars and Strokers.” All Women's Division Winners “One World Dragons” Charlotte Club Team. Most Spirited Award - AIC Recycling “Eye of the Tiger.” Best Costumes - Coldwell Banker SeaCoast Realty “SeaCoasters.”  Lastly the No Person Overboard Award was given to “The Island Women.”  
New to this year’s event was
 the Fun Match Races that pitted WECT led by Ashlea Kosikowski  against WWAY led by Randy Aldridge and Carolina Beach’s Mayor Dan Wilcox against Wilmington’s Mayor Bill Saffo! Both were very close matches but WWAY-TV3 pulled out a victory in a closely matched race against WECT-TV6 and Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox and his team edged out Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and his team in a closely contested race. The 2nd Annual Carolina Beach Dragon Boat and Festival Committee wants to send a huge THANK YOU to all of this year’s event participants, sponsors, vendors and especially all our volunteers for helping make this event such a huge success and raising over $12,000 for Step Up For Soldiers. Step Up For Soldiers: An All Volunteer Group Providing Renovations, Recreation,  and Recognition for Recently Disabled Veterans. Mission Statement: To provide disabled veterans who experienced loss of limb and mobility problems with the resources necessary to adjust in a post-war environment. As a result of the events and fundraisers, sponsored by Step Up For Soldiers, we strive to not only enhance their lives and those of their families but also help to restore their confidence and positive self image.  For more information visit:

Thousands Enjoyed The Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival At Fort Fisher

The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce held it's 21st Annual Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival October 11th and 12th at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. Shemekia Copeland gave an outstanding performance prior to headline act Robert Cray taking the stage. Delbert McClinton headlined the show on Sunday night.  

The Robert Cray Band was the headline act Saturday October 11th at the Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival in Fort Fisher. Thousands of people enjoyed food, art and live entertainment wrapping up with Delbert Mcclinton Sunday night.

Crowds enjoying music at 21st Annual Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival October 11th.

October 15th : This past Saturday and Sunday marked the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Annual Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival. This year the organizers brought two headliners to the event, Robert Cray Band who did not disappoint as the legendary Blues Icon played for a huge crowd and returning performer, Delbert McClinton who closed out the last day with a bang. The two-day festival featured thirteen other blues and jazz groups on two stages including Shemekia Copeland and Damon Fowler, all compliments of Bryant Real Estate and the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce at the beautiful Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. In addition to award winning music festival attendees enjoyed an awesome food selection including Michael’s Seafood’s Award winning chowder, hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, Italian ice and everyone’s fair favorites like fried pickles, funnel cakes wraps, pitas and more! Silver Coast Winery, Noni Bacca and Duplin Winery served up an awesome selection of local wines. Special thanks to all of this year’s sponsors, organizers and volunteers for making the festival a huge success! For more information on the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce like how to join or upcoming events visit them online at

Former Sheriff Dies While In Custody At Jail

July 15th : Federal inmate Ronald Emery Hewett died shortly after 2PM on July 12th, while in the New Hanover County Detention Facility. Hewett was being held at the County jail under a Federal Detainer after federal ATF officials  found firearms in his Supply, NC home. Hewett was being moved within the jail to visit with family members when an altercation took placed between Hewett and a deputy. A taser was used on Hewett. No deputies were put on leave or disciplined.
The maximum sentence for Hewett would have been 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and several years of supervised probation. Hewett resigned in 2008 after serving as Sheriff of Brunswick County for 14 years.
The federal government indicted Hewett in 2007 for felony embezzlement and corruption charges. He served prison
 time for obstruction of justice and was released in 2010. Hewett's death is being investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
An autopsy report showed that Hewett died as the result of a heart condition. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as "Dilated cardiomyopathy" with other significant conditions listed as, "Chronic alcohol use, subdual in custody."

Residents Attend "Listening Session" For Future Of Snow's Cut Land

September 30th : Residents attended a "listening session" held by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Thursday night September 30th, at the American Legion in Carolina Beach. The purpose of the meeting was to present information to residents living along Snow's Cut about the Corp's future plans for land located on either side of the banks of Snow's Cut; the Intracoastal Waterway.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) informed the Town of Carolina Beach earlier this year it is planning to obtain a change of status for land they own along Snow's Cut - the Intracoastal Waterway - in Carolina Beach. The land runs from Snow's Cut Bridge east between Snow's Cut and homes located on Spencer Farlow Drive down to the North Carolina Wildlife Boat Ramp on Annie Drive.
The change in status could bring commercial activity to a largely undeveloped area of the waterway right behind residential homes.
Elected leaders and adjacent property owners expressed concerns about relocating various industrial activities in a residential area. The Corp of Engineers already utilizes a portion of the property along Snow's Cut to support dredging operations. That area is contained within a fence with barbed wire on top and a gate. There is a dock for dredge vessels. The entrance to that area is located on Annie Drive just before the North Carolina Wildlife Boat Access Ramp.
The Snow’s Cut property was identified as the top candidate for relocating the Corp of Engineer's operations from land they use near the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The property is zoned R-1 which allows for single and two family development. The proposed use could best be described as light industrial. Local zoning regulations do not apply on Federal property/projects; however the ACOE does have criteria for how their properties are developed. The Snow's Cut walking and bike trail was installed some years ago by the Town of Carolina Beach and runs from the end of Bridge Barrier Road east through the wooded area between homes on Spencer Farlow Drive and the Snow's Cut waterway. The trail ends at the Wildlife Boat Ramp on Annie Drive. There are approximately a dozen residential properties that would see a new fence erected. Currently four properties are adjacent to the existing fence.
The Army informed the Town earlier this year the land would relocate the Snow's Cut Walking and Bike Path and bring the installation of a fenced topped with barbed wire running behind residential homes. Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) maintains a repair yard and survey offices located on Eagle Island adjacent to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. Due to flooding, maintenance issues, and future design modifications associated with the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, the Eagle Island ACOE location is expected to be abandoned in the next 5 to 20 years, depending on their budget. Those operations could be moved to the land along Snow's Cut.
Town Manager Michael Cramer explained to Council members, "This week I discussed the Army Corp of Engineers plans for their Snow’s Cut property with ACOE representatives.  During this discussion I was told that the plans for the property have been scaled back."
Cramer explained, "ACOE will move a 3-10 man survey office to the Snow’s Cut area within the next 6-18 months. This move will include the placement of a small office building and survey boats on trailers on the property currently contained within their security fence.  This will entail enhancements to the existing dock area and fence, as well as installing small boat lifts adjacent to the dock for the survey boats. All improvements will be located within the existing maintenance compound area."
He explained, "The ACOE will be moving the existing fence between the residential property owners and the ACOE property 4 to 8 feet further inside their property.  The fence will include the same fencing material and security features that are established on the existing fence.  To accommodate their security needs trees
between the property line and 24 to 30 feet within the ACOE property will be removed."
Cramer explained the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) will soon request an amendment to their ACOE Master Plan that will adjust the recreational designation of the remainder of their property on Carolina Beach to “Operational”. This action will not change the established recreational use of the property under the Town of Carolina Beach’s sublease with New Hanover County which has a lease with the ACOE for use of the land.
He explained, "Town of Carolina Beach must better manage the property that we sublease from New Hanover County and the ACOE" and, "Better management of the property"  would include:
• Enforce “NO Tree Removal or Grass Cutting” on the ACOE property, except within the area of the bike path.  The property is intended as a natural buffer and should not be denuded.  Trees could be replanted in areas previously denuded.
• Addition of split rail fencing and signage next to the water to delineate areas that the public should not enter.  Significant erosion is taking place, due to people walking down the banks to fish.
• Maintain existing split rail fence on property line. Areas of the fence delineating the property line have been removed by adjacent property owners and must be replaced.
At the start of the September 30th, "listening session", officials with the Army Corp of Engineers gave a brief description of the meeting process and then directed the public to meet with representatives in groups to discuss various aspects of updating their Master Plan and potential for future uses of the land.
Several residents commented, "This is not what I expected" referring to the format of the meeting. Some had hoped for a more structured meeting rather than breaking into groups circulating around the room.
The message of the day was that no funding has been approved for relocating major operations to the land. At this time the ACOE is updating their Master Plan that was last updated in 1994. That will reclassify areas of land along both sides of Snow's Cut with some areas labeled as environmentally sensitive and others reclassified to "Operational" laying the framework to utilize the undeveloped land in other ways sometime in the future.
One official continued to emphasize there is currently no funding for the major activity on the land. An environmental study will be conducted prior to reclassifying land in the area.

Council Adopts Restrictions For Alcohol, Camping At Freeman Park

Freeman Park was a hot topic for the Carolina Beach Town Council in 2014. Earlier this year the Council voted to implement new restrictions on camping, raised vehicle pass rates and agreed to prohibit alcohol delivery. 

People will leave just about anything behind when they leave Freeman Park. This time, a drum set. (Photo: Michelle Gautier)

The Town of Carolina Beach started selling 2015 Freeman Park passes on December 1st. The pass comes with a notice that camping regulations are "currently being drafted, and may be subject to change at anytime." That's because the Town will not officially implement new restrictions until they hold public hearings in January. 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.
The notice presented to people at the time they purchase an annual pass states:
• Camping overnight will now require online reservations in advance.
• Camping overnight will cost of $10.00 per night in addition to the normal park fees (daily and annual).
• Camping overnight is only allowed in Town assigned/designated camp sites on the dune side of the park.
• NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING ALLOWED on ocean side of park.
With the statement informing the rules may change at a later date.
The Town Council scheduled public hearings on new rule changes during their December 9th, meeting. The date for those hearings is January 13th during the Council's regular monthly meeting. Those hearings will cover camping, adjusting penalties, leaping from commercial fishing piers, digging holes on the beach, and vending within Freeman Park.
On October 14, 2014, the Town Council approved a recommendation by the Freeman Park Advisory Committee to increase access fees onto Freeman Park.  Effective December 1, 2014 through December 15, 2014 the town will offer an Annual 2015 Freeman Park Pass for $75.00.  The pass must be applied for in person at Island Tackle and Hardware, Town Hall or the Town Parking Office to receive the discounted rate. All other Annual 2015 Freemen Park Passes sold after December 15th will be sold at a rate of $150.00 and will be offered on-line or at the above mentioned locations.  Effective January 1, 2015, daily passes will be sold on-line or at the
Freeman Park Entrance Gate for $30.00.  A new rate has been approved for all Daily Holiday Access Passes.  On the four days around the holidays of Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day the access pass to drive on Freeman Park will be $50.00 per day.
The Council voted at their November 10th, meeting to implement new rules and restrict camping within Freeman Park. Starting next year visitors to the park will be required to make advance reservations to camp within 92 to 100 campsites. Currently the estimated number in the summer has been  around 875 sites.
Cramer explained, "We anticipate that by raising the rates on the access passes and increasing the penalty for improper activity on the beach that we will help strengthen the environmental stewardship of our visitors."
Cramer supplied Council with a map of the park showing "92 to 100" campsites near the sand dunes far removed from the area near the water.
According to a study given to the Council by Cramer, "During the 2014 Memorial Day Weekend the Police Department physically counted an estimated 857 camping locations on Freeman Park per day." Legally the town is not able to limit the access of individuals walking into the park, however, we can limit the number of campsites approved for visitors and require a reservation to camp. Restricting the number of campsites would in theory limit the number of people in the park and address issues such as litter.
Cramer told the Council the issue of controlling camping is "far too complex to complete in a single year" and recommended a pilot program.
He explained, "One of the challenges is how to delineate a camp site and what rules will be in place to regulate camping at those locations. Along with that is a concern that if we arbitrarily decide on a number of camping locations for the whole area of Freeman
Park we may damage the attractiveness of the park and turn people away from experiencing it. We recommend that we establish a pilot program that allows individuals to reserve a defined campsite against the dunes during the prime season between April 1st and October 31st, at a rate of $10.00 per night."
Under the proposed pilot program, all other campsites would be free and on a first come, first served basis. As people purchase daily or annual passes the Town could ask questions about camping and develop statistical information on the number of campsites and when they are being used.
Cramer said with that information they would be able to analyze the general number of users, campers to non-campers and other statistical information to better adjust their management strategies for the following year. That would include a vehicle counting device at the entrance.
There were discussions of how to manage camping permits including hiring seasonal park rangers at $15 to $20 an hour to enforce camping rules and reservation requirements.
Cramer recommended a Crawl, Walk, Run approach. That included:
- 2014 – CRAWL: Educate Visitors about Rules / Limited Enforcement.
- 2015 – WALK: Address Camping Slowly / Increase Enforcement
- 2016 – RUN:     Finalize Camping Rules / Enforce Fully
Council member Sarah Friede said it would be counter productive to make people reserve campsites next to the dunes and then, "Allow the oceanside to be the free for all that it has been. How many ever people packed in doing whatever they are doing. That doesn't make sense."
The Council voted to move forward with the camping restrictions for 2015. Mayor Dan Wilcox voted against the move saying limiting it to 100 sites was a 90% reduction and he wasn't in favor of picking an arbitrary number that could impact overall revenues that are used for other expenses such as beach nourishment projects.

Boardwalk Arcade, Restaurant, Damaged by Fire September 25th

Fire destroyed the Arcade at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Thursday morning September 25th, just before noon. Fire crews were able to quickly control the fire and prevent it from spreading to other Boardwalk properties. 

Arcade fire at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk September 25th. 

Firefighters taking a break after bring a fire under control on September 25th, at an arcade on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.

Fire destroyed the Arcade at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Thursday morning September 25th just before noon. No one was injured and the fire was largely confined to the Arcade building. Damage to neighboring buildings such as Frank's Pizza had not been fully examined at 1PM but crews were concerned for safety of firefighters. The roof of the Arcade building collapsed. A vacant apartment above the arcade was also destroyed.
The Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and New Hanover County fire departments all responded to the scene along with support from the Wilmington Fire Department.  The Carolina Beach Fire Department was dispatched at 11:29 am and arrived at 11:31:51 am.
Carolina Beach Fire Chief Alan Griffin said, "We've got it down to the area of origin" but have not yet discovered the actual cause of the fire. He said the cause might ultimately be ruled "undetermined."
Griffin said the investigation involved officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who were working to retrieve data from cameras recovered from inside the arcade building.
Griffin said, "We turned over that equipment to ATF and they will take it to their lab in Atlanta. They are professionals and have more experience in that type of data retrieval."
Griffin noted that, "Nothing at this time makes us think this was a suspicious fire. It was a natural progression inside the building. It started near the henna tattoo shop area located within the arcade structure."
The tattoo shop was the obvious focal point of the fire. The largest area of the roof that collapsed was above that portion of the arcade building.
The henna tattoo shop was added some time ago as a sectioned off retail space within the arcade with separate access.
Fire crews were on scene overnight through 6PM the following day dealing with hot spots that continued to flare up.
The adjacent Frank's Pizza was severely damaged.
A notice posted on their Facebook page September 26th, stated, "We know this goes without saying, but due to the arcade fire, we will be closed indefinitely. The firewall separating us from the arcade stopped the fire from burning straight through, but the fire did climb the firewall and destroyed bits of our roof. We sustained heavy smoke damage and water damage, and our entire left half of our ceiling was knocked down with bits of the roof burnt through. The arcade is a complete loss. We thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers, and will keep you posted on any new information."
The building was condemned and boarded up.
Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox thanked the fire departments for their hard work and quick response times. He said, "Carolina Beach Fire Department did a great job containing  and dousing the flames" and, "Thanks to the Fire Department response and to Bobby Nivens (Britt's Donuts) for seeing it early and calling 911."
The last major fire in the Boardwalk area was the Astor Hotel fire in June 2005.
A major fire destroyed approximately 30 businesses in the Boardwalk area on September 19th, 1940. County records show the arcade building that burned last week was built in 1941.
Frank's Pizza is planning to reopen in a building located across from it's original location and right next to Britt's Donuts.

Suspect In Carolina Beach Fires Charged With Two Counts Of First Degree Murder

Condo fire early morning hours of December 6th on Carolina Beach Avenue South in Carolina Beach, NC. Firefighters responded to two additional fires that morning. Police later charged Marshal Hudson Doran with 1st Degree Murder for the deaths of two people trapped inside the condo fire at 409 Carolina Beach Avenue South.

December 11, 2014 : Marshal Hudson Doran, 22 of Kure Beach, NC, was charged with two counts of first degree murder during a hearing in New Hanover County Court 9am Monday December 11th for the deaths of two people in a 12-unit condominium fire on December 6th, 2014. He was not given a bond. More charges are expected as District Attorney Ben David said he'll ask a grand jury to indict Doran on other charges including damage to property and attempted murder for others who escaped the flames.
The identities of the two Carolina Beach residents found in the rubble of the Sands IV 12-unit condo building at 409 Carolina Beach Avenue South that was consumed by fire in the early morning hours of December 6th, were confirmed following an autopsy conducted Monday December 8th. Police identified 43-year-old Darlene Ann Maslar and 72-year-old Mary Angeline Cochran as residents who lived in the building.
Firefighters responded to a total of three fires that morning. Two on Carolina Beach Avenue South and another at the Sea Ranch Motel in Carolina Beach. The first started sometime around 2am at an oceanfront Sands IV 12-unit condo building at 409 Carolina Beach Avenue South. Then another several blocks south of the first fire at an oceanfront 12-unit condo building at 811 Carolina Beach Avenue South called Blue Water. Then farther south at the Sea Ranch Motel at 1123 South Lake Park Blvd.
Police arrested Doran that morning following the fires and charged him with attempted first-degree burglary at 611 Carolina Beach Avenue South. There were no reports of fire at that property.
Doran was charged earlier this year with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle when two people died in a hit and run incident on I-40 in Wake County, NC. Those charges were later reduced to second-degree murder. He was out on bond awaiting trial in Wake County.
He was also charged in that incident with driving impaired and felony drug possession in addition to resisting arrest.
The Pleasure Island Community came together through volunteer efforts to help provide food, clothing, lodging and other needs for those impacted by the fires. In total, the Pleasure Island Fire Relief Fund raised almost $90,000.00. 

The Carolina Beach Town Council voted earlier this year to fund $8,500.00 a year for Wave Transit Route 301 which serves the Carolina Beach area connecting to routes throughout Wilmington, New Hanover County and surrounding areas.

The Carolina Beach Town Council decided in early December not to convert Cape Fear Blvd east of Lake Park Blvd at the Boardwalk to a one-way traffic pattern following completion of a water, sewer and stormwater project. 

18 new recycling and trash containers were delivered to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Monday July 14th. The new bins were made possible by a grant from New Hanover County and replace large blue residential recycling carts.


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