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Freeman Park Rules Changed To Address Trash; Human Waste; Furniture

The Council held several public hearings at their April 9th meeting regarding banning household furniture, portable human waste devices and additional penalties for Freeman Park.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council approved several amendments to the code of ordinances governing Freeman Park at their April 9, meeting.
Freeman Park, located at the end of Canal Drive in Carolina Beach, is one of the few areas on the east coast that permits four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach. Camping and campfires are permitted in designated areas. Each vehicle is required to display a pass to enter the park. The cost of the season permit is $100.00 and daily passes are $20.00 at the entrance.  Weekend passes are $40 for 2 days  and $50 for 3 days.
The majority of the park is located in the unincorporated area of New Hanover County. In 2004 the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners agreed to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Town of Carolina Beach. That agreement gave the Town authority to provide law enforcement for the area and to adopt ordinances within reason without the need to return to the County for permission.
The reason for establishing the park was to bring order to chaos. People had complained of a lack of law enforcement in the area and enforcement of environmental issues such as using the bathroom in the dunes and driving behind the dune system.
The original fee in 2004 for vehicle access was set at $10 per day and $40 per year. The Town provided trash pickup, portable restrooms, sand fencing to protect the dune system and private properties and eventually added lifeguard patrols. Various ordinances have been adopted to address issues such as camping and fires.
During the Council's March 12, meeting, Freeman Park Committee member Rick Roggie said the committee unanimously recommended banning couches and other "house hold furniture" from the park. He said if someone pulls up with a couch in a 4x4 pickup, they shouldn't be allowed in the park.
Roggie said trash has always been a problem within the park and before it became Freeman Park there were no trashcans and trash on the beach. He said even with the efforts of the Operations Department to carry away trash, "no matter how many trashcans we have we can't keep up with it."
He explained a few years ago the idea was, "If you pack it in, you pack it out. If you can carry it in full, you can carry it out empty. At this past meeting it was agreed unanimously by everybody on the committee that we really want to give that a try and make a real serious push. You carry it in and you carry it out."
He said another decision that was not unanimous, is a recommendation, "That we would recommend there be no more privately owned port-a-johns" or "Human waste devices" permitted in the park.
Councilmember Sarah Friede said the Town could inform people by mailing out information to current annual pass holders.
Shuttleworth said, "The last time we made a change to Freeman Park on the passes, we did it and we got blistered because we didn't have enough of a hearing. We need to make sure we have some notice."
One example of volumes of trash left behind in the park happen last summer. Freeman Park was trashed Sunday morning May 27, 2012, over Memorial Day weekend due to tides, weather and a broken trashcan machine. Over night the tides washed higher onto the beach due to strong surf conditions and wind. That, combined with light rain, created a situation that drove campers to leave in a hurry. The Town put out additional trashcans in addition to a trailer they have previously positioned within the park to collect refuse.
The Town also obtained a surplus military vehicle that can carry trash. The Town can use backhoes to collect refuse to place in the truck. Bartley said police can issue fines ranging from $50 to $100 to people who don't heed a warning not to leave trash behind.
At the April 9th, meeting Council unanimously voted to no longer allow individual portable potties in the park due to the biohazard of people dumping them in trashcans. Restrooms are provided in the park. A fine was set at $100.
The Council unanimously voted to ban couches and other household furniture in the park. Only "beach" type chairs, umbrellas, tents and other similar equipment. The fine was set at $100.
The Council also unanimously voted to set penalties for those changes as well as increasing the fine for "clinging to a motor vehicle" from $25 to $100.
Animal waste has a fine of $50 except $100 for horses.
Violations can result in revoking daily and annual passes.