The Town Council budget work session scheduled at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Pitts Center is noteworthy for its emphasis on a review of the proposed East Dogwood Trail “walking path,” whose construction startup is tentatively budgeted in FY 2018-19 for a scaled-back $250,000.
Deel Engineering will present design plan options for the 5-foot-wide walkway, which will start at the N-S-E Dogwood trails intersection in the woods and run about 4,325 feet to NC 12 (Duck Road), BEFORE Town Manager and Budget Officer Peter Rascoe and Town Finance Officer Bonnie Swain go over projected expenses and revenues with Mayor Tom Bennett and the four Town Council members.
Deel Engineering, PLLC, which is associated with Anlauf Engineering, PLLC, both of Kitty Hawk, has a multi-year contract with the Town to provide engineering, architectural, and other construction-related services on infrastructure projects.
The Beacon urges anyone interested in the future of East Dogwood Trail and South Dogwood Trail, and the impact walkway construction will have on homeowners, to attend at least the first hour of the budget session—or send a friend.
Besides the low-ball cost figure proffered by Deel/Anlauf for the East Dogwood Trail walkway, other noteworthy numbers in the draft budget submitted by Mr. Rascoe are a request of $267,700 for “architectural services” in support of the new Southern Shores fire station, a project expected to cost, in total, well in excess of $6 million; an increase in annual capital street appropriation of $138,870; and an update of the beach vulnerability survey, which was previously done, for $94,000.
(Southern Shores’ financial obligation for last summer’s beach nourishment project in front of Pelican Watch, at the southern end of town, was $500,000, $150,000 of which is expected to be paid by Pelican Watch homeowners through a tax assessment. According to a video on the town website, the project added 180 feet to the beach width, but earlier this month, a representative of the Pelican Watch homeowners assn. appealed to the Town Council at its regular meeting for help with restoring the dune, which he claimed had been damaged in a March 2018 storm.)
Currently projected FY 2018-19 expenses total $6,388,835, an amount that is $296,261 more than projected income. The Beacon does not recall a projected Town budget ever showing a shortfall between income and expenses.
Town expenses for salaried employees constitute roughly 35-40 percent of the total projected expenses. Southern Shores has among the highest salaried employees on the Outer Banks. The town manager’s position costs the Town more than $200,000 annually.
In FY 2018-19, Mr. Rascoe will have help with administering his job. Town Planning Director Wes Haskett will be salaried as a part-time deputy town manager, a job he has already assumed, in addition to his planning department duties and responsibilities.
The Beacon is curious to know why the Town thought this reallocation/expansion of duties was necessary. We do not recall being informed in the newsletter about this change, the reasoning behind it, and the anticipated consequences it will have.
DOGWOOD TRAIL WALKWAY OPTIONS: Concrete, Asphalt, or Flexi®-Pave? Lowest-Impact, Eco-Friendly Surface Proposed Also Most Costly; Public Forum Urged
Deel/Anlauf have submitted preliminary engineering cost estimates for three design options for the proposed East Dogwood Trail “path,” each of which is constructed of a different material. The cheapest option calls for a concrete walkway. The most expensive, and most environmentally friendly, calls for KBI (K.B. Industries) Flexi®-pave, which, The Beacon has learned from an online search, is a heavy-duty porous material made from recycled tires and stone. The third option is an asphalt walkway, which, like the concrete path, would be impervious.
According to some online engineering claims, Flexi-pave actually cleans rainwater as it passes through.
According to an April 10, 2018 memorandum from engineer Joseph Anlauf to Mr. Rascoe, the $250,000 expense included in the draft FY 2018-19 budget for the East Dogwood Trail walkway covers only construction of a concrete “main path” along East Dogwood Trail from the Dogwoods intersection to NC 12. The estimated expense does not include:
*asphalt demolition, previously proposed in order to narrow East Dogwood Trail in the divided-roadway section in the dunes;
*any new asphalt and associated curbing that would be required;
*shade trellises, park benches, bike racks, municipal garbage cans/recycling cans and other niceties proposed to be built or positioned along the walkway; and
*any crosswalks to perpendicular streets
Since the South and East Dogwoods Task Force filed its final report in January 2017, the South and East Dogwood Trails walkway project has become a neglected and/or protracted and certainly confusing project.
The task force, chaired by Michael Fletcher, recommended a 5-foot-wide path that would meander around trees and would have “elements of a greenway.”
Before a decision is made on the surface material to use and other design details and on the money to expend on this massive, community-altering construction project—some property owners will lose much of their front yards—The Beacon urges the Town to hold a public forum to explain what is contemplated and how it will benefit and infringe upon property owners. This is follow-up that hasn’t occurred and should.
Anecdotally speaking, The Beacon finds that many homeowners on the affected streets are unaware of the walkways being contemplated.
Public officials should do more to inform property owners than just refer them to online material that is difficult to access and assess.
The Beacon is also concerned about the lack of long-range planning being discussed by the Town Manager, Finance Officer, and the Town Council, despite several requests by Town Council members at their regular meetings for such planning. The Beacon especially would like to know how much the Town will be paying annually, and in total, for the new fire station, while it’s also paying for other big-ticket items, such as the Dogwoods walkways and, potentially, another beach-nourishment project.
Beacon Editorial Board, April 16, 2017