Carolina Beach Votes On Route For Island Greenway

Carolina Beach Votes On Route For Island Greenway Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 11 March 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council voted to approve the route of  a 1.2 mile long $732,539.00 "Island Greenway" multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path during their March 10th, meeting.
The path will border residential neighborhoods and land owned by the U.S. Army's Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) from Mike Chappel Park south to Alabama Avenue.
The Council previously held a meeting February 11th to consider several routes. 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 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.
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."
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."
Several options were presented to the Council during the February 11th meeting including locating the path on the west and east sides of the retention pond including options to install a more expensive ornamental style fence that would be more visually appealing than one with barbwire on top.  The cost ranged from $106,938 to $302,991.
It was unclear if locating the path on the west side of the retention pond would require additional cost to deal with potential wetlands permits and a small bridge for the path.
Cramer recommended Council chose the option to locate the path on the east side of the pond because it was more fiscally responsible.
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."
Cramer presented updated information to the Council at their Wednesday March 4th workshop meeting.
Two options were presented. The first option, called Option B, is to locate the path along the west side of the retention pond behind the Carolina Sands neighborhood. That option will not require wetlands permits from the Army Corp of Engineers and no changes to the pond or piping of a drainage outfall will be required. The fence is estimated to cost $112,752 for 6,262 linear feet of chain link fence with three-strand barb wire on top. A pedestrian bridge for the path will cost between $35,000 and $50,000. The current cost estimate is $204,302 to $219,302. That's a portion of the overall cost for the project at $732,539.
Cramer will not recommend the option "Alternate D" recommended by a local resident which calls for using area roads south of the retention pond area to eliminate the need to locate the path behind properties bordering the path south of Carolina Sands to Alabama Avenue.
Cramer's presentation notes that Multi-Use Paths (MUP's) require - where possible - separation from vehicular traffic and other accompanying hazards, conflicts and distractions. He indicates the "zig-zag route"  in the "Alternate D" plan is confusing and distracting to users. Additionally, all streets would require widening five feet on each side with utilities, stormwater and landscaping work to meet North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) requirements.
Cramer explained, "In this area the adopted Bike Plan calls for streets with 90' right-of-ways be developed with MUP's that serve as neighborhood collectors and connectors between Lake Park Blvd and Greenway, not right-of-way of 50' or less."
Cramer explained current pavement widths in the area are 18' to 22' and over 40 driveway cuts and as many as 84 properties would be impacted.
Additionally, "Alternate D" would cost an estimated $204,302 to $305,994.
Cramer will recommend "Alternate B" because he says it's the most visually attractive option and Town liability can be controlled through regulation and enforcement. Also, it meets the Town's obligation to prohibit pedestrian and vehicle access to MOTSU property and increases the Town's infrastructure to support walking, jogging and biking activities.
During the Council's March 10th meeting, the Council discussed the liability of the retention pond adjacent to the path as well as how to address issues such as prohibiting fishing. There was discussion of turning the pond area into a future park and letting the Town's Parks and Recreation Committee take on the task of researching that option.
Mayor Dan Wilcox explained, "My motion would be this. To have the FE-6 fence along the path, that it be on the west side of the pond. That we would defer that pond area to Parks and Rec to see what ideas they come up with. In the meantime, we would apply signage and I think we should probably have some trash receptacles out there and some picnic tables. It is a natural area by itself. It's a feature. At this point in time, unless Parks and Rec comes back with something substantial I don't want to spend a lot of money developing a park that has minimal access to the citizens at large."
Wilcox said the FE-6 fence is the best cost effective option compared to a more expensive ornamental fence considering the lifespan in a salt air environment and future replacement costs.
The Council voted unanimously. Councilman Steve Shuttleworth was not at the meeting.

UPDATE: The Town of Carolina Beach issued a press release on Friday March 13th:

A decision has been made for the Island Greenway Project Plans! During the March 10th meeting the Carolina Beach Town Council approved the “Alternate B” trail route around the scenic west side of a Town storm water pond in the wooded MOTSU buffer zone. The route was one of several options considered by Town officials in a series of public workshops and meetings over the past few months. Residents of the Carolina Sands neighborhood had voiced concerns over the close proximity of the trail to the rear of their homes in the previously proposed “Alternate A” route. In an effort to heed these concerns, Town staff and consultants investigated various associated costs and obstacles with the route options. Town Manager, Michael Cramer, recommended “Alternate B” as a visually attractive option. This option not only meets the requirements to the MOTSU property, it also provides pedestrians with an expanded area for walking, jogging and biking. The Council approval included direction to install standard FE-6 fencing along the west side of the trail as required by MOTSU, add signage, trash receptacles and other amenities. The Town Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will meet to discuss further options to emphasize the park atmosphere.

This section of trail is part of a 1.2 mile paved 10’ multi-use path within the wooded MOTSU buffer zone from the Town’s Mike Chappell Park south to Alabama Avenue. The project is funded through a combination of local dollars and a STP-DA grant administered by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. Design and permitting for the project is expected to be complete by late summer 2015, with construction beginning in December and completion mid-summer 2016. Additional information is available on the Town website at http://www.carolinabeach.org/projects/island_greenway.php Look for more updates on this exciting upcoming Town feature on the Town of Carolina Beach website!

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