By ROBERT LEWIS
Carolina Beach Town Councilman
On the Federal level they call it pork barrel spending. On the local level they just call it wasting our hard-earned tax dollars.
As many of you may of read in recent editions of the Island Gazette there is a controversial issue being brought before council on the proposed purchase of a lot located on Canal Drive.
One of the things you may of seen in last week’s edition is the fact that our town already owns a 25’ wide lot that adjoins the lot in question on Canal.
The 25’ lot we already own has a nice gazebo constructed over the water and is part of a town water access area. We also have a $50,000.00 grant approved to add additional improvements to the current water access area.
Directly across the street from this lot is a town owned parking lot, (The Sandpiper Lot) which also houses bathroom facilities with space to expand those facilities if so desired.
We have a beach access area directly across the street from the town parking lot as well. Knowing all these facts your Mayor Joel Macon and Councilman Dan Wilcox have decided the Town of Carolina Beach is in dire need to purchase the adjoining lot and and a half from the current owner at a price in the neighborhood of $600,000.00.
The reasons that Mayor Macon and Councilman Wilcox are providing town resident’s so far is we need to buy this property to provide a place to launch Kayak’s and to put Carolina Beach on the map with boater’s.
I live on the yacht basin myself, and just to clarify one point, there are numerous places to launch Kayak’s all around Carolina Beach including in the yacht basin for free. So clearly this is not a valid reason to spend taxpayer’s money to buy this lot.
What do you think?
Secondly, in his comments in recent Island Gazette reports Mayor Joel Macon stated that the purchase of this lot will "Put Carolina Beach on the Map" in a positive way. As a resident and property owner in Carolina Beach I am sincerely offended by the Mayor’s statement.
I feel Carolina Beach is already on the map and wasting $600,000.00 for an additional lot sitting on Canal is not going to improve our position on that map. In my opinion what has put Carolina Beach on the map is all the wonderful and friendly people who live here, our great beaches, the families with children growing up here and the tremendous generous nature of our town residents who support numerous charities even in these tough economic times.
On top of that we have a business community and active Chamber of Commerce who continue to invest in our town contributing to the improvement of our quality of life. I can not see the logic behind Councilman Wilcox’s and Mayor Macon’s desire to waste taxpayer’s money on the purchase of this lot when we already have land on the yacht basin with a grant to improve the area. Additionally, we recently invested in a new transient dock area in the marina with a pump out station within the Central Business District to support all types of boaters who want to visit our town.
We are also working through the process of implementing a mooring field in the yacht basin as well.
When Mayor Macon and Councilman Wilcox speak of boaters they are not talking about the boaters in our community but about rich or well to do individuals who travel up and down the East coast and own large sailing and motor yachts. How much more of our community taxes has to go to supporting this special interest group?
The above should have been reason enough to drop the subject, but both Mayor Macon and Councilman Wilcox are on a full court press to try to get a council vote to approve an offer to the owners of this lot.
This brings to question the financial part of this land deal and it opens up an even bigger question in my mind.
In 2009 our Carolina Beach town attorney, Steve Coggins had this same property appraised by certified appraisers from Worsley Real Estate Appraisals and as this publication reported last week that certified appraisal came back in at $385,000.00.
After viewing this appraisal from 2009 I am even more confused as to why Councilman Wilcox thinks the lot has a value anywhere close to $600,000.00?
Did I miss something, and the real estate market in Carolina Beach is on a huge upswing? Do you believe that property values have risen in value over 35% in Carolina Beach since 2009?
Are you as confused as I am?
What has not been disclosed to the general public is that if this lot was to be purchased by the town we would have to invest significant taxpayers money to develop the lot and most likely will need to have the bulkhead rebuilt and the lot resurfaced.
I see this whole issue as a total insult to the taxpaying public in our community and calls the question as to what is the motivation behind this proposal by Councilman Wilcox and Mayor Macon.
It could be they do not realize we are in the midst of the worst economic recession since the great depression of the 1920’s. Maybe they do not believe the huge unemployment numbers recently released by the State of North Carolina. Possibly they have not watched the news or read a newspaper lately about the number of foreclosures in our area. They may not be talking to the Carolina Beach residents who are retirees on fixed social security incomes who for the second year in a row are not receiving a cost of living increase and are looking at dramatic increases in the cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
Maybe they forgot about the water damage to numerous residential and commercial properties just a couple weeks ago during the 20+-inch rainfall with loss estimates for property owner’s in the hundred’s of thousands.
What do you think?
I like to think I am living the dream at the beach in our great town, but I too have felt the financial pressures of today’s real estate market having lost all the equity in my Carolina Beach properties and I've seen my personal monthly income drastically reduced due to this economy.
What about you?
I would like to reiterate that both Councilman Lonnie Lashley and I strongly oppose the proposal by Councilman Dan Wilcox and Mayor Joel Macon to waste taxpayer’s money on the purchase this property.
I do not personally speak for Lonnie, but I think he has the same passion that I have in fighting for you and trying to instill a sense of fiscal responsibility within our local town government. I want to ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely and provide real value to all our residents.
As I stated before, we have a wide range of infrastructure improvement needs without the money to fund them including roadwork, major improvements to our water system, lift stations for sewage treatment, the proposed pier project, dredging and changes to the lake, expansion of the fire station and the list goes on. I truly appreciate everyone who has talked to me, called me and emailed me personally about his or her concerns over this issue. I encourage the rest of the town’s residents to make their voices heard before this deal becomes a reality.
Town manager, Tim Owens recently told me that Mayor, Joel Macon would like to hold a special meeting of council very soon to get a vote from council on making an offer to buy this property. I guess time is of the essence…
These views are my own and do not represent those of anyone else on town council.
You can also find me on Facebook, Bob Lewis – Carolina Beach
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