Island Greenway Project Cost Could Rise Due To Fence

Island Greenway Project Cost Could Rise Due To Fence Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 18 February 2015 05:00

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Town Council held a public meeting on February 11th, to discuss options for location of a 1.2 mile long Island Greenway bike path that will border residential neighborhoods land owned by the U.S. Army's Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU).
Several options were presented to the Council and the public during the meeting. One issue that has upset area residents is the location of a proposed six-foot tall chain link fence topped with three-strand bard wire. Many residents describe the appearance as a prison style fence and feel it will impact their property values and quality of life.
Installing a more appealing ornamental fence could drastically drive up the cost of the project. 
The Town previously held a workshop on November 18th at Town Hall to give residents an opportunity to offer input on the bike path.
The path will be funded by a $586,031 grant. The Town will be required to match that grant with $146,508 for a total project cost of $732,539.
Area residents were upset over a plan to install a chain link fence topped with barbed wire along the path to run from the area of Mike Chappel Park on Dow Road south to Alabama Avenue.
Residents living in the Carolina Sands neighborhood were upset because the path was previously planned to follow a line west of a retention pond behind their neighborhood. Recently they learned a map showed the path running east of that retention pond directly behind homes in their subdivision.
Residents were upset because they were never notified of the change in the plan and only found out about the change when neighbors spoke to survey crews when they were mapping the property line for the MOTSU land.
Town officials have said the path will be located on land owned by the U.S. Army as a buffer zone for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU). The terminal is the largest ammunition depot on the East Coast. Operations are located on the other side of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County and the "buffer zone" occupies a large portion of Pleasure Island encompassing land in both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach on the riverside of the Island.
Since the Army owns the land, the Town has to meet their requirement to install a fence.
A fence was erected by the Town last year on land behind the Seagrove subdivision to stop people from dumping trash on MOTSU land. It is the same style fence that would be installed along the Greenway path.
Col. Chris Hart of MOTSU  explained in December, "With explosive safety as the foremost concern, the only options that we can support are the pathways that circumnavigate the outer boundary of the buffer zone and most closely follow our property boundary. That path most closely coincides with option 4 on the east side of the retention pond. Additionally, we believe that we can consider option 3 on the west side of the retention pond but lack final approval at this point in time. The west-side path would require fence lines on either side of the path to eliminate reasonable access to federal property and the retention pond. Similarly, there would simultaneously need to be a fence that transverses the east-side."
Hart explained, "In my short time as MOTSU commander, I have come to the conclusion that the pathway on the east-side of the pond evolved for good reason. An improved path along our buffer zone boundary would serve as a good fire break as well as provide a transportation corridor for pedestrians/cyclists who would otherwise be intruding in the buffer zone."
He concluded stating, "We previously stated the minimum requirement for fencing was the FE-6; a six-foot chain-link fence topped with three-strand barbed wire outriggers. We can, however, approve the use of a higher-rated security fence that may be more aesthetically pleasing."
During the February 11th, meeting that position was presented to the Council and the public attending the meeting.
Town Manager Michael Cramer explained that even without a bike path in that area, the Town will still be required to install a fence around the retention pond.
He said, "My recommendation from a Town fiscal standpoint is to go with alternative A. No it doesn't make the homeowners happy. It does however, if we put a combination fence and make it more appealing on the property line, at least from an aesthetic standpoint, it does limit the Town's liability and we don't have to worry about additional fair market costs that we have each and every year. The Town meets it's obligations to prohibit pedestrian and vehicle access to MOTSU property from Town property because of the fence. It's an enhancement in that regard. It would still have a bike path along it so it would increase the Town's infrastructure to support jogging, walking and biking and so forth. From a financial standpoint, it would be the most responsible just from the standpoint of how do you get all of these things and be the least impactful on the budget. That is why my suggestion would be the alternative A."
In addition to the cost of the path, under the proposal for Alternate A, the cost of the chain-link fence with bard wire on top at $18 per linear foot at 5,941 feet would be $106,938. For the more attractive ornamental fence similar to a black rod iron fence, that cost would rise to $302,991.
A combination of the two types of fences could be used with the more appealing ornamental fence positioned in areas more easily viewed from residential properties. That would bring the cost down to around $162,000.
Mayor Dan Wilcox reminded the audience that no decision was being made that evening and likely more research would be needed on other issues.
Following the meeting Councilman Gary Doetsch explained to Cramer, "Please have any additional engineering cost, mitigation cost, bridge cost and any additional other cost for path option on west side of storm retention pond using a FE-6 fence only. Please also have estimates including decorative fence for just Carolina Sands area for option east of retention pond. These are the only combinations I would consider understanding the amount of the grant and the length of time we have spent discussing this issue. I would like to see council vote on this issue during our next meeting scheduled and move ahead."
To move the path to the west side of the pond, a bridge would be required over a drainage area that would likely require wetlands permits from the Army Corp of Engineers.
Many residents expressed concerns with positioning the path directly behind their homes. Resident Mark Miller said people living along the path would erect privacy fences and with a fence on the military property it would create an unappealing tunnel fenced on both sides.
Another resident echoed a previous proposal to utilize area streets for a bike route rather than installing the path.
Cramer pointed out in the meeting that Alternate Plan B would cost more because of the additional linear feet of fencing required plus the requirement to pay "fair-market value" in a lease to the Army annually similar to what they are now required to pay for well-water sites located on Army land.


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