The Beacon erred in believing that the Town’s Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee (CIIP) would review at its meeting today the latest design plans for the proposed South Dogwood Trail sidewalk and would include this project in its priority list of improvements for fiscal year 2019-20, even though its funding is separate from other infrastructure projects.

We regret these errors.

The South Dogwood Trail sidewalk project is now under the exclusive auspices of the Southern Shores Town Council, which first must decide whether to fund it by appropriating $1 million from the Town’s general undesignated fund balance. If a majority of the Council approves this monetary transfer, it then will have to make decisions regarding the sidewalk’s design and construction.

The proposed five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk would run along the east side of South Dogwood Trail.

According to Town Manager Peter Rascoe, if and when the Town Council approves the $1 million appropriation, the Town will notify South Dogwood Trail property owners about the project, but staff will not meet personally with them. Instead, a public hearing about the sidewalk design will be held at the Town Council’s regular July meeting and “residents will be invited to comment,” Mr. Rascoe said.

Mr. Rascoe added, however, that South Dogwood Trail property owners are welcome to contact him with their questions, as well as to meet with him. His email address is prascoe@southernshores-nc.gov.

The Town Council’s July meeting is currently scheduled July 9, the same day as the Republican primary runoff election for the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat that was held by the late Congressman Walter Jones. The Pitts Center is a polling place for this election, which will take place from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

When The Beacon asked Mr. Rascoe today about the scheduling conflict, he said he was not aware of it.

You may view the design plans for the South Dogwood Trail sidewalk on the Town’s website at: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/design-plans-s-dogwood-trail-walking-trail/.

The Town Engineer has prepared a design of the proposed sidewalk in two segments: the northern segment runs from the East-North-South Dogwood Trails intersection south to Fairway Drive and the southern segment runs from Fairway Drive to the Southern Shores cemetery. Because of hills and dense forestry, the southern segment is the more problematic of the two.

With a price tag of nearly $1 million, the sidewalk’s construction would far exceed the annual capital improvements budget.

By previous agreement, the Town Council has determined that five cents out of every 22 cents per $100 of property value collected in Town real-estate taxes will be appropriated for the annual capital improvements budget. A motion by Town Councilman Gary McDonald at the Council’s April budget session to increase this tax allocation to seven cents was defeated 2-3, with only Councilman Fred Newberry voting with Mr. McDonald.

In FY 2019-20, the capital budget amount is projected to be $662,340.

A public hearing on the proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget will be held during the Town Council’s June 4 meeting, at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. You may view the budget at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/town-government/administration/public-documents/fy-19-20-managers-proposed-operating-budget-2/.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/30/19

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